My personal favorite draft prospect, Josh Sale is a strong, lefty-hitting high school outfielder. His gorgeous swing and elite bat speed caught my eye the first time I saw video of him. He might be the best hitter in this draft class this side of Bryce Harper, with plus power potential and an advanced approach at the plate. The bad news? He only has average athleticism, and his best position is clearly in the batter's box. He will be a corner outfielder or perhaps a first baseman at the next level, though he does have the arm strength to play right field.
I already mentioned that Sale has an advanced approach at the plate and a great swing. Take a look at this article about his approach to hitting; it's textbook Moneyball-esque patience, and just the ticket for a high on-base percentage. With his swing and his plate discipline, he may have the highest offensive floor of any high school position player in this draft. Of course, Sale will have adjustments to make in pro ball even at the plate, and he has a lot of learning left to do on defense, but he seems about as safe a bet as you'll find among high school prospects.
Opinions on Sale's power ceiling vary from "solidly above average" to "plus-plus". I'm going with the latter. From all the videos I've seen, nobody else in this draft has his bat speed. As PNR Scouting puts it, he's "short to and long through the ball". He's already a strong kid, and as he fills out more, he'll gain even more power. If everything goes right, Sale could be a star.
Will the Astros pick him? If so, where?
Sale is one of several prospects who have been linked strongly with the Astros. Because of the tendencies of the other teams who pick before the Astros, there's a very strong possibility that Sale will make it to No. 8. He could even fall to No. 19, but if the Astros like his bat enough, they may not take that chance.
Sale is also reportedly very signable. The only question is whether Bobby Heck's scouting department is willing to take a player without a good defensive position; his previous two first round position player picks, Jason Castro and Jiovanni Mier, both profile as plus defenders at skill positions. That said, the farm system could use more impact bats, and if the team plans to take one in the first round this time around, Sale might be the best available player who fits that profile.
Where is he projected to go right now?
Keith Law has him at No. 8 to the Astros.
Andy Seiler has him at No. 17 to the Rays.
Deep Leagues has him at No. 7 to the Mets.
Jonathan Mayo has him at No. 11 to the Blue Jays.
Perfect Game USA has him at No. 14 to the Brewers.
Baseball America has him at No. 8 to the Astros.
Frankie Piliere has him at No. 17 to the Rays.
Kevin Goldstein has him at No. 11 to the Blue Jays.
John Sickels has him at No. 19 to the Astros.
Bibliography (Scouting Reports and video)
Below the jump.
...a bat-first prep talent with the rare characteristic of a refined swing and solid approach at the high school level. His bat speed will produce solid plus power as a pro, and combined with his short path should help him with identifying and handling more advanced off-speed and breaking stuff. So long as he continues to fine-tune his approach at each level he should be able to hit for a solid average, as well. There are legitimate concerns on the defensive side, with his actions and footspeed limiting him to a corner outfield spot and a fair amount of work still to go to make him an average defender there (particularly if he is going to reach his ceiling value as a right fielder). Watching Sale hit, it is readily apparent that he has spent hundreds of hours honing his swing and his ability to make consistent hard contact. He certainly doesn't lack for confidence in the lefty box and his poses after contact can rub some the wrong way. Regardless, Sale's drafting team will be getting a rare high-upside/relatively good bet bat from the prep ranks and, perhaps most importantly, a young player that already has an idea about the daily refinement and tweaking that is required in order to maintain a steady and productive pro bat.
After performing well on the national showcase scene, Sale had positioned himself to be one of the better high school bats in this Draft class. He's done nothing this spring to hurt his stock. He's got as much power as anyone in the class, though there is mild concern about his ability to make enough contact to tap into that power. Sale is a tireless worker who has improved his arm to the point where he now looks like he could fit the mold of the prototypical, power-hitting right fielder. His offensive potential looks like it could get him off the board in the opeing round.
STRENGTHS: Plus, plus raw left-handed power. Strong hands, throws bat head, gets arms extended, drives through ball. Aggressive cut, concept of plate discipline and strike zone. Raw power to RF and CF, occasional power to LF now but should develop power to all fields. Should be average ML hitter, will take some strikeouts, but will be strong enough to put hard pitches in play.
WEAKNESSES: Below-average athleticism on ML scale, below-average arm and runner. Future position is a question, would like to try him at catcher.
SUMMARY: Willie Stargell-like body type with similar power. Strong hands give him ability to continue becoming better hitter as pro. Needs to condition and watch body in order to field a position as everyday ML player; definite LHH power for 1B, rare guy with this body type whose power will play. Needs to make sure other tools improve so he doesn’t make himself too one-dimensional too soon.
Sale uses his thick lower half and plus bat speed to generate big-time power. It?s that same build, however, that may prevent him from offering anything more than average defensive value, though he does a good job tracking fly balls and offers enough arm strength to profile in a corner outfield spot.
His swing isn?t exactly clean and he?ll get out in front on occasion, but he?s so strong and quick to the ball that he makes up for busy hands at the start of his swing path.
Sale may end up at first base down the road, but makes enough contact to mix with the raw power to profile anywhere on the diamond. To top it off, Sale possesses tremendous work ethic and good baseball makeup.