Reinforcements Have Arrived
Words almost cannot express how excited Kevin Whitaker was
when the Astros selected Austin Wates in the third round, 90th
overall, in this year’s draft. I was sitting next to him during our live chat
and he was astonished, to say the least, when he realized that Wates had fallen
that far. Kevin and I had watched film and studied most of the top talents that
were available to the Astros (and occasionally watched some Bryce Harper
footage just for the wow factor), and
Wates was considered one of the top college bats in the entire draft. And
Houston got him at 90! He will arrive here in Troy tomorrow afternoon.
In Keith Law’s draft-day chat, Kevin asked him if he liked
the Wates signing:
“Love it. Teams doubt his ultimate position
- no real evidence he can play CF beyond his speed, and he doesn’t look great
out there in practice. But at 90, you have to take a chance on that swing and
Did the Astros just draft another J.D. Martinez and get one of the
biggest steals of the draft? Possibly.
BaseballBeginnings.com has been studying and watching Wates for years
and they have been a fan for a long time. John Klima, a contributing writer for
Baseball Beginnings, had this to say about the former Hokie:
“I loved Virginia Tech outfielder Austin Wates when I saw
him on the Cape in 2009. For my money, I want guys who give me more than one
tool. Obviously they have to hit, but I want guys who can help the club win in
more ways that one”.
There’s that “love” word again. Seems like Keith Law isn’t the only
one that thinks the Astros might have gotten one of the best players in the
draft. Wates is a four-tool player. He has above-average speed, great plate
discipline, can hit to the gaps, should hit for average, has great range, and
has an average to above-average arm. What is there not to like? Here’s the rest
of the Baseball Beginnings scouting report on Wates (numbers are based on an
80-point system, with 80 being the highest and 20 being the lowest):
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Average height, lean, long and loose athletic
frame, loose hands and wrists, much physical projection in front of him.
STRENGTHS: Above-average speed, good first step out of the box, graceful and
controlled runner. Good hands, line-drive approach, modest power, should have
gap-to-gap ability. Average arm, good accuracy. Rangy defensive outfielder, can
play all three OF positions.
WEAKNESSES: Doesn’t have one glaring tool weakness.
SUMMARY: Excellent all-around OF prospect with above-average speed,
athleticism and hitting ability. Lack of well above-average power shouldn’t
dissuade a team from giving him an opportunity.
Hit – 40/60
Power – 35/60?
Run – 70/70?
Arm – 50/50?
Field – 50/60
Overall Future Potential – 60
So he has no glaring weaknesses? Sign me up and put him out on the field ASAP.
The talk amongst Kevin and I put him in left field, giving the ValleyCats an
outfield of Wates (LF), Adamson (CF), and Bailey (RF) for the playoff push. Add
Wates to an offense that is raking the ball in August (seventh in overall
batting average at .256, third overall in RBI with 67, and first in both
categories in the Stedler Division), and you have a team that, combined with
excellent pitching, could make a serious run in the playoffs.
Did the Astros draft a better version of J.D. Martinez (Wates is
better defensively and has a lot better speed)? Only time will tell.
But if Wates comes as advertised, the Astros could have a phenomenal outfield
for the future with J.D. in left and Wates in right.