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).
University of Arkansas
Baseball America 78
Despite being ranked as the 10th-best prep outfield prospect in the country per Perfect Game as of 2016, Fletcher went undrafted due to his strong verbal commitment to the University of Arkansas. While his defense had been top-notch during his first two seasons with the Razorbacks, Fletcher’s offensive game still needed improvement. So far during his junior campaign, he’s beginning to answer some of his doubters — especially those concerned about his swing-and-miss issues. Here are his stats through May 1, 2019:
2017 220 AB, .291/.356/.495, 7 2B, 1 3B, 12 HR, 37 RBIs, 1-of-1 SB, 17 BB, 36 K
2018 267 AB, .288/.348/.468, 16 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 49 RBIs, 1-of-4 SB, 20 BB, 53 K
2019 189 AB, .328/.393/.556, 19 2B, 0 3B, 8 HR, 41 RBIs, 1-of-2 SB, 20 BB, 35 K
Actually. what was most disconcerting about Fletcher’s offense during his first two seasons were not his strikeouts, but his strikeout-to-walk ratio. While he struck out 14.4% and 17.9% respectively during his first two seasons, his walk ratio was quite low, at 6.80% and 6.73%. Thus, what’s more impressive this year than a slightly reduced K-rate (16.4%) is that his walk rate has increased to 9.4% so far.
Fletcher’s more muscular than his size (5´10´´, 185 pounds) would indicate. If all goes well, his upside would be that of a 20 homer per year hitter. As indicated by his low number of stolen bases, Fletcher doesn’t run especially well; in fact, Perfect Game has him running the 60-yard-dash at 7.09 seconds.
Fletcher’s skills play better defensively, as he has a plus arm, solid route-running instincts, and the ability to make difficult plays look easy. In fact, Baseball America rated Fletcher the top defensive outfielder in its preseason rankings of MLB draft prospects. It’s possible that his instincts and skills could atone for his lack of running speed, giving him the ability to play an above-average center field a la Jim Edmonds. If not center field, Fletcher’s arm and skill set would be just fine at either corner position, provided he hits enough to justify those placements.
Fletcher, who’s the younger brother of Angels infielder David Fletcher, has a reasonably high floor as a reserve outfielder due to his tremendous defensive skills. As his ceiling is limited due to a lack of speed, Fletcher will have to continue taking more walks and hitting more homers in order to become a regular MLB outfielder.
Based on draft projections, Fletcher likely could fall between the White Sox’s second and third round selections. It would be too much of a stretch for the White Sox to consider him in the second round, especially as his plate discipline isn’t quite as polished as the team would prefer. The third round (or perhaps the fourth) may be a more viable selection due to the high floor/low-to-medium ceiling he’d provide.
Here’s a video of Fletcher playing against USC in February, courtesy of 2080 Baseball:
Previously, on Draft Prospects You Should Know
C.J. Abrams, Blessed Trinity (Ga.) H.S. SS
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
Jonathan French, Parkview (Ga.) H.S. C
Ethan Hearn, Mobile Christian (Ala.) H.S. C
Rece Hinds, IMG Baseball Academy (Fla.) 3B
Jason Hodges, Marist (Ill.) H.S. OF-1B
Will Holland, Auburn University SS
Seth Johnson, University of Oregon RHSP
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
Landon Sims, South Forsyth (Ga.) H.S., RHSP
Andrew Vaughn, University of California, 1B
Matt Wallner, Southern Miss University OF
Kenyon Yovan, University of Oregon RHSP