The top college outfielders in the 2016 MLB Draft class are (in alphabetical order) Kyle Lewis of Mercer, Corey Ray of Louisville, and Bryan Reynolds of Vanderbilt. Anfernee Grier of Auburn and Buddy Reed of Florida aren't far behind and should also be early picks. One player who has started to receive positive attention in recent weeks is Ronnie Dawson of Ohio State. He didn't get as much pre-season play as the others, but there's a lot to like here.
Dawson is from Grove City, Ohio. He wasn't drafted in 2013 as he was seen mainly as a football player but he chose baseball for college. His freshman year at The Ohio State University was loud enough to get noticed: .337/.396/.454 as a full-time player and leading his team in both OBP and SLG while stealing 10 bases. His 2015 season wasn't as good: .279/.363/.465 with 16 steals. He went to the Cape Cod League and hit .243/.333/.383 with 10 steals, 14 walks, and 32 strikeouts in 115 at-bats for Orleans. That was enough to keep him in the picture but not quite enough to ease some concerns about his bat.
His junior year has been outstanding: .329/.423/.617 with 23 doubles, 13 homers, 20 steals in 24 attempts, and a 37/42 BB/K in 243 at-bats. He leads the Big 10 Conference in total bases and doubles, is second in homers, and tied for third in stolen bases. THAT will get you noticed, especially when combined with athleticism and positive makeup.
Dawson is a 6-2, 225 pound left-handed hitter and thrower, age 21. His best tool is above-average raw power. He also has a strong throwing arm that would fit well in right field, though he's been mainly in left field in college. His running speed is average but he is intelligently aggressive on the bases and is an adept stealer. Early in his college career there were questions about his swing mechanics and batting eye, but both have shown considerable improvement this spring. He isn't likely to be a .300+ hitter at higher levels, but he should draw walks, hit for power, and steal bases at a good percentage, making him a fine secondary average player.
Pre-season rumors had Dawson in third round territory based on his tools and first two college seasons. He's moved at least into the second round now with a good chance to be a compensation round choice. It is also plausible that he could go sooner than anticipated if someone loves the bat and can strike an underslot deal.
He shows some skill with baseball cliches here and there's a look at some hitting starting at 41 seconds.
This Prospect Junkies video from last spring is interesting. Dawson has some rough moments in this clip but watching the way he reacts to negatives outside of his control is instructive. Also note that his hitting mechanics have been cleaned up a bit since last year and he's shown more bat speed and power this spring.