When you have the No. 3 overall pick, it’s never too soon to take a quick peek into this year’s MLB draft. This year’s draft class is loaded with excellent hitting prospects, but is relatively weak on the pitching side.
Draft Prospects You Should Know is a new series that features prospects who the White Sox could pursue in this year’s draft. As the June draft nears, we’ll return to many of these athletes and provide updates on whether their stocks are rising (or falling).
Age listed as of Day One of the Draft (June 3).
Mobile Christian H.S. (Mobile, Ala.)
Baseball America 57
Ethan Hearn is a powerfully built catcher — even sturdier than his 6´0´´, 190-pound frame would testify. In high school, the hard-nosed kid also played linebacker for his playoff-bound prep squad. Named Coastal Alabama’s Male Athlete of the Year for 2017-18 and recipient of the Jimmy Smothers Courage Award by the Alabama Sports Writers Association in 2016, Hearn had to deal with plenty of adversity, as his mother passed away unexpectedly in the fall of 2016.
Hearn’s defense far outranks his offense at this stage of his career. He possesses above-average arm strength and an impressive 1.80 pop time according to Perfect Game. While his blocking skills are still developing, especially in regards to footwork, he has the glove and skill set to be a frontline catcher going forward.
Scouts vary as to their assessment of Hearn’s bat. Perfect Game says the left-handed batter produces line-drive contact and shows strength in his swing especially when pulling the ball. Baseball America applauds the smoothness of Hearn’s swing, as well as his toughness and 90-plus mph exit velocity. Yet FanGraphs says that Hearn possesses “above average raw power, but needs a reworked swing and may never be more than a 40 bat.”
Based upon where he’s ranked by Baseball America and FanGraphs, Hearn could be selected between the second and third White Sox selections in this year’s draft. By most accounts, the Mississippi State commit is rated the third-best catching prospect in this year’s draft, behind Oregon State’s Adley Rutschman and Baylor’s Shea Langeliers.
Would the White Sox consider drafting Hearn in the second or third rounds, considering the organization’s need for quality defensive catchers? While anything’s possible, it’d be highly unlikely. First, the team’s preference for college athletes has been well noted. Also, the team’s inability to develop players with glaring weaknesses (catchers’ defense, hitting) has been equally noted. While Hearn’s defensive deficiencies appear to be easily correctable, his hitting may not be. The Sox would likely seek more polished prospects in the second or third rounds. If Hearn should somehow fall from the third round, the Sox may be willing to take a chance and pay over-slot to pry him from his Mississippi State commitment. Don’t expect that to happen, but you never know.
Here’s a video of Hearn in last year’s Perfect Game National Showcase in Tampa, courtesy of 2080 Baseball:
Previously, on Draft Prospects You Should Know
Hunter Bishop, Arizona State University OF
Cameron Cannon, University of Arizona 2B/3B
Matt Cronin, University of Arkansas LHRP
Tyler Dyson, University of Florida RHSP
Daniel Espino, Georgia Premier Academy RHSP
Rece Hinds, IMG Baseball Academy (Fla.) 3B
Jason Hodges, Marist (Ill.) H.S. OF-1B
Jack Leiter, Delbarton (N.J.) H.S. RHSP
Chris Newell, Malvern (Pa.) Prep H.S. OF
Quinn Priester, Cary-Grove (Ill.) H.S. RHSP
Adley Rutschman, Oregon State University C
Andrew Vaughn, University of California, 1B
Matt Wallner, Southern Miss University OF