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2017 MLB Draft Profile: Evan White, 1B, University of Kentucky

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One of the biggest risers of the college class, White has made a mockery of college pitching in 2017 and has some surprising tools to boot.

Tale of the Tape

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 205 lbs.

Position(s): First base, left field

Year: Junior

Player Summary

A unique prospect with a set of tools that doesn’t typically crop up at his position, White has been an elite performer two seasons running at a top collegiate baseball program. The team’s leading hitter as a sophomore with a .376/.419/.535 triple slash and 23 extra base knocks, White has somehow taken a step forward in 2017. Currently boasting a .391/.467/.679 line with 8 home runs, White has been among the top hitters in the country while playing against some of the best competition the college game has to offer. What does he offer to professional clubs?

The Wildcats’ first baseman immediately stands out with his feel for hitting. His setup is quiet and he has excellent balance through his swing, which is efficient with above average bat speed. He consistently barrels balls and has only struck out 23 times in 2017. He doesn’t sport outstanding walk rates at this point but does show a patient approach and it is reasonable to expect he can improve in this regard as he moves to higher levels of competition. His hit tool draws an easy plus grade from me, and for a bat-first prospect that is the most important part of the evaluation.

While there are very few gripes one can find with White’s game, the biggest one is certainly his lack of power. He will be confined to either first base or corner outfield duties, so it is important that he is able to provide something in this department. He has a narrow build that doesn’t evidence significant raw pop, but his ability to consistently barrel up pitches will allow his average power to play up. I do not have significant concerns about White in this regard, but I certainly do not see him as a future slugger. Consistently providing 15 home runs per season would be a very strong outcome for White in the pros.

Although the bat is certainly his mealticket, White helps his case with the rest of his toolkit. He draws outstanding reviews for his defense at first base and is yet to commit an error in 2017. If that does end up being his long term home, he projects as a plus defender at the position. That said, he also brings above average speed to the table and has played some outfield at the college level. Most think he would be able to handle left field given the opportunity, and some teams may see him as offering more value at that spot given his mediocre power. A bat-and-glove first base prospect, White has a unique profile that is difficult to project but will be very enticing to teams that value those skills highly.

Projected Draft Round

White seems to have cemented himself as a first-round pick with his outstanding college play, and currently looks poised to go in the mid-to-late first.

Does he make sense for the Astros?

I see White as more of a backup plan for Houston in the first round, but he could be an excellent option if players like Jake Burger are off the board and the front office wants to go the college hitter route.

Will he sign?

With nothing left to prove at the college level, White would be foolish to return to school at this point.

MLB Comparison

It is difficult to compare White to a current big-league first baseman given his unique profile. He could provide production reminiscent of Joe Mauer’s at the position- a high average, lots of doubles, and a healthy walk rate. If White can provide that type of offense and grade as a plus defender at first, big-league regular status looks like a great possibility.

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