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White Sox outfielder crisis opens door for Jason Coats

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With Austin Jackson ailing and Melky Cabrera out with a family emergency, there's room for 29th-round draft pick from 2012

Jason Coats
Jason Coats
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The last time I did one of these, it didn't end well. Hopefully, Jason Coats gets to actually play. Whether he's better than what the White Sox currently have available is an open question. However, Coats does have the the advantage of being the shiny, new toy adorned with gaudy Triple-A numbers, and with Melky Cabrera out and Austin Jackson ailing, now's as good a time as any.

The White Sox drafted Coats in the 29th round in 2012. Despite his late-roundedness, he merited a write-up from me when he signed - and for those who follow my (lack of) draft coverage, you know that's an unusual use of my time. The right-handed hitter's unusual circumstances played a part, as he was signed more than six months after the draft:

Coats was considered a 6th-10th round talent prior to tearing the ACL in his right knee in a game against San Diego State in May 2012. As a senior, the White Sox had until May 2013 to sign him.

The Orioles drafted Coats in the 12th round of the 2011 draft but Coats chose to return to TCU after his monetary demands were not met by Baltimore, who are believed to have offered him 4th round money while Coats was looking for 2nd or 3rd round money. That looks to have been at least a poor financial decisions, as the White Sox are believed to have given him a $1,000 signing bonus.

However, as suggested by the above, he did have a pedigree. He had some pop and decent speed, though it was already clear that he would be limited to a corner and, at 23, he was comparatively old. He spent all of 2013 in Low-A, nearly all of 2014 in High-A, played 31 games between 2014 and 2015 in Double-A and then spent the rest 2015 in Triple-A.

Until he got to Charlotte, his profile was pretty much what was expected: not a lot of walks, not a lot of strikeouts, mediocre batting average, some pop, decent speed. When he got to Triple-A, the strikeout rate jumped up quite a bit but he had a big cushion and his 18 percent is still a bit below league-average.

This season,  he's batted .335/.399/.567. A whole lot of that is BABIP, as he's sporting a .390, and he's not the type of player who has the ability to sustain anything more than an average-ish BABIP. So he's gotten a significant amount of luck. He's also benefited from the very offense-friendly home park to the tune of .366/.441/.634. And, as one would expect, he's historically hit better against lefties but this season his slugging is actually a hair higher against righties.

So that's a long way of saying that there's a lot of smoke this season obscuring his true talent. However, even prior to this season, he was on the radar as a possible fifth outfielder in the majors. What I said:

Jason Coats is very left-fielderish but can somehow fake it in the other two spots. He may not even have one average tool but he's a sorta interesting case study in having all just below-average tools.

And I still think that's about right. People can quibble with whether I'm selling him a bit short on power or arm but I don't think you'd find many who would argue that he has any tools that are higher than average-ish.