The 6-foot-1, 185 pound outfielder went undrafted out of high school, despite having a good tool set. He's developed well in three years with the Hokies, hitting .397 in 194 at-bats his sophomore season. He has shown good instincts on the bases, getting caught just four times in 35 opportunities over the past two seasons. He also rarely strikes out. He doesn't walk much, either, but with his speed, putting the ball in play is a good thing.
Wates also has a pretty good toolkit in the outfield. He has the speed to play in center field, though there are some questions about his arm strength. The odd thing is the Astros drafted him as a right fielder. While that makes sense from a route running perspective (Wates doesn't always get great jumps), his arm may not play there long-term. He can be a good defender in time, but his best tool is definitely his bat.
If his defensive ability doesn't translate well, he'll end up in left field. He doesn't have the raw power to hold down a corner spot, so that might be a problem. Also, he might be more prone to wild fluctuations in his BABiP with his speed being a big component of his batting average. Still, his best tool is his hitting ability, and that means his floor is going to be pretty good. He fits right into the profile of guys like J.B. Shuck, Brian Kemp and Grant Hogue.
With a little luck, Wates could be a batting champ. That's the kind of hitter he can be. He's also pretty advanced, so he can be ready quickly, if Carlos Lee gets traded next season. His power is not considered to be a strength, but he can definitely post a .450 to .500 slugging percentage in his best years, based on his doubles and triples power. With his speed and stroke, he could easily hit 40 or 50 doubles a year. I should also note that some scouts are optimistic that he might be able to add muscle and power as he matures.
Will the Astros Sign Him?
Since he was going to sign for slot money in the second round, there's no telling if he'll take less in the third. It seems, though, that he's a good signability risk. He does have the option to go back to VaTech for another season, but I'm not sure there's a lot left to prove. He won't develop more power (he hit just 14 home runs with aluminum bats in three years) and probably won't go as high as the third round next season. Wates will probably start off in Tri-City and could be a quick riser through the system.