At 18 years old, most kids spend their summer getting ready for college, moving out from their parents' houses, or making plans to find employment. While most give up pencils for work boots, some get the chance to play sports professionally. A select few will take on a new endeavor completely.
A young man by the name of Eric Jenkins is taking on new endeavors in the Arizona Rookie League this summer. Jenkins was drafted in the second round, 45th Overall by the Texas Rangers in this year's MLB Draft. Jenkins hails from North Carolina and was committed to University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
Draft experts differed on their opinion of Jenkins. Some at Baseball America had Jenkins as high as # 40 whereas, Keith Law had him all the way at # 78. Jenkins received a two-million-dollar signing bonus to join the Rangers. His bonus was about $700,000 above the slot value which was approximately $1.3 million. The Rangers wanted to make certain that Jenkins would immediately join their organization and not head off to college.
After being drafted Jenkins started appearing on a lot of prospect lists. On MLBpipeline.com, Jenkins is rated the ninth best prospect in the Rangers Farm System.
Jenkins is listed at 6 feet, 1 inch and 170 pounds but, as you can see from the picture above Jenkins has a wiry frame. Jenkins bats from the left side and in the AZL, he has primarily played center field. Jenkins best tool is his speed, in a showcase in high school Jenkins ran a 6.32 second 60 yard dash.
In the AZL this year, Jenkins has held his own, considering he is approximately two years younger than the average player. In 177 plate appearances, Jenkins is hitting .248/.337/.344 with 19 walks and 51 strikeouts. Power is relatively sparse. Jenkins has no home runs but, does have three doubles and six triples. In the AZL, six is enough to put him in a tie for second in triples. Although it isn't showing up yet, I think there is potential for Jenkins to hit for more power as he matures.
With that said, Jenkins has shown that when he gets on base he is a nightmare to the opposing team. Jenkins has swiped 22 bases in 25 attempts. Jenkins is top ten in walks, runs, and stolen bases however he is striking out almost 29 percent of the time.
When it comes to the field, Jenkins appears to be at ease, only fumbling three balls all year. Jenkins also has three outfield assists and a turned double play, from the outfield. The major league best for double-plays from center field in 2014 was three by, Billy Hamiliton.
Eric Jenkins possess bits and pieces of all five tools. Jenkins has blistering speed around the bases that allows him to steal bases and extend singles to doubles, and doubles to triples. If Jenkins can continue to steal bases and improve his ability to hit for contact, he could move through the system expeditiously. The power may never show up in the form of home runs but, with Jenkins' base-path speed he may never need it.
I expect him to make his full-season debut next year in Low-A, with the expectation that he will be ready for big league service in 2019. I still think he is at least four years away from being serviceable to the Rangers. My comparison: on the high-end is Billy Hamiliton or on the low-end Adam Eaton.
Here is Eric Jenkins prospect video from mlbpipeline.com: