The Pittsburgh Pirates promoted outfield prospect Keon Broxton to the major league roster a few days ago. Broxton hasn't received much attention outside of Pirates circles this year but he's actually an intriguing talent worthy of notice. Let's do our due diligence and take a look at who Broxton is and what he can do for a team.
Broxton was originally drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009, a third round pick from Santa Fe Community College in Florida. He was considered to be raw but had the strength and athleticism to provide both power and speed on offense and good defense in the outfield, provided he could close up some holes in his swing and add general polish with the glove. Early results were mixed: he hit just .228/.316/.360 in the Midwest League in 2010, fanning 172 times. He did draw 65 walks and steal 21 bases, but the general sense of rawness remained.
After another mediocre campaign in 2011 Broxton made progress tapping his power in the California League in 2012, hitting .267/.326/.437 with 19 homers and 21 steals, though he still had some contact/plate discipline issues (40 walks, 135 strikeouts.) Moved up to Double-A in 2013, he had a poor season (.231/.296/.359) and his stock was down to the point that the Diamondbacks simply sold his contract to the Pirates at the end of the year.
The change in organizations revitalized him: he hit .275/.369/.484 in Double-A in 2014, with 15 homers, 25 steals, better strike zone judgment, and sharper defense. Broxton continued progressing in 2015, hitting .273/.357/.438 with 27 doubles, 12 triples, 10 homers, 39 steals, 66 walks, 156 strikeouts in 456 at-bats in Double-A and Triple-A.
Broxton is a right-handed hitter and thrower, 6-3, 195, born May 7, 1990. On any given day he's one of the best athletes on the baseball diamond but his baseball skills took time to refine. He is still vulnerable to strikeouts and isn't the type of hitter to bat .300 over a broad sample, but his power and speed combination has value and he can provide quality glovework at all three outfield positions.