Entering 2012, without much argument, Baseball America ranked the Chicago White Sox as the team in Major League Baseball with the worst minor league system. Baseball Prospectus’ Up and In podcast deemed the White Sox prospect talent as practically unworthy of discussion. Enter Courtney Hawkins.
Corpus Christi, Texas has put itself on the baseball talent map with the recent success of Mike Adams and David Freese (although raised in Missouri, Freese was born in this port town on the Gulf of Mexico). The White Sox have looked to the Sparkling City for another gem and found one. Out of Mary Carroll High School comes Hawkins as the 13th overall pick in the 2012 first-year player draft. The procurement of players with the combination of both a diverse athletic skill set and a potentially explosive bat is the most cost effective way to build a major league lineup. Six or seven years of pre-free agency Hawkins could prove to be the key for success on the South Side.
What impresses about Hawkins is that he appears to have baseball savvy to go along with his exciting talents. Besides being an offensive and athletic juggernaut, he was shoving it as a high school pitcher leading his team to a Texas state championship in 2010. On the base paths, he seems to get good jumps and has been proficient stealing bases in his brief professional debut this year. Obviously the proof will be in the pudding, but at the very least there seems to be no reason to significantly discount Hawkins’ baseball acumen relative to that of other 2012 draftees.
Many have harped on the swing and miss in his swing. (Why do we call it the ‘swing and miss,’ and not the ‘miss’ since I suppose we want our hitters to swing?) While I am sure that he will get his fair share of strikeouts, I am not certain why it’s such a concern at this point. His swing and approach looks prolific and vicious, but not that noisy. There is some wrap to his swing, but the bat goes from point A to B pretty efficiently and quickly. Even assuming that his step back and forward with his front foot leaves him a little off balance at times, his strength should allow him to makeup for that.
Hawkins, in a matter of months, went from graduating high school to playing in the Carolina League playoffs where he pulled two home runs for the Dash. In 229 professional at bats spread out over the Appy, the Sally, and the Carolina League, Hawkins has put up some very respectable numbers (.284/.324/.480). The White Sox have been aggressive in promoting him thus far, and if they continue that strategy then Hawkins might find himself in Chicago sooner than the prognosticators are expecting.
With his youth, athleticism, baseball skills, and early professional results, Courtney Hawkins has a chance to leave opposing pitchers and Las Medias Blancas fans spellbound for years to come. One cannot help but feel that the Mets missed in the draft yet again.