At 6'4", 262 pounds, the first thing you notice about Chase McDonald is that he's huge. A right-handed hitter out of Greenville, North Carolina, McDonald was a three-year starter at East Carolina. His awards are extensive: Conference All-Freshman in 2011, followed by Offensive Player of the Year in the Coastal Plains League, where he ranked second in the league in home runs (with 13 in 181 at-bats) and total bases, tied the single-season record in RBI, and put up the second-highest batting average in CPL history. That summer, he had an OPS of 1.132.
His sophomore season at East Carolina was a nice blend of burgeoning power and patience, and the following Summer he continued that trend, with five home runs and twelve walks in the Cape Cod League, with a .444 slugging percentage and an on-base percentage of .346. But he was still saving the best for last.
In a very competitive Conference USA during his junior year, McDonald slashed .299/.398/.519 with a conference-high 11 home runs, 31 walks, and 33 strikeouts. His OBP was ranked 17th in the conference among hitters with at least 100 at-bats. His led the conference in slugging, and his walk rate ranked 11th. All told, over the course of his career at East Carolina, he slashed .300/.380/.454.
That's what you're getting with Chase McDonald: Someone who has established himself as a good contact hitter who draws walks, strikes out some, and who has shown flashes of outrageous power. He's got quick hands that get through the zone, and he's shown tremendous power to both sides of the field.
Not bad for a 12th-round pick.
McDonald should look polished in the low minors. Expect good numbers in the New York-Penn League; something similar to what Jobduan Morales put up offensively in 2012. Lancaster should also be a good hitting environment for him. He could establish himself as a star in the low minors, with good walk rates and decent power numbers that will play up if his plate discipline improves.
The high minors will be a real proving ground for McDonald, though his strikeout rates are good for a hitter who makes as much contact as he does. Playing first base doesn't leave a lot of room for error, but he's shown the ability to be a truly dominating hitter in college and summer leagues.
Realistically, McDonald's ceiling reminds me of guys like Lyle Overbay - a steady, consistent performer who draws walks, hits for good power with a decent average, and doesn't strike out an overwhelming amount. (It's also hard not to think of Preston Tucker, but we can't exactly count that as a ceiling yet, since he's still a minor leaguer.)
Will He Sign?
It's conceivable that McDonald might go back to college to try and improve his stock, but this is a guy who hit .299/.398/.519 with 11 home runs and went in the 12th round. It's hard to see how he could perform much better, and he would simply be a year older with the same skillset.
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And now, Chase McDonald: