While writing up the Chicago White Sox Top 20 Pre-season prospect review yesterday, I noticed that I neglected to do a Rookie Report on Pale Hose outfielder Jason Coats when he was promoted to the majors back in June. His playing time has been limited: 14 games, 29 at-bats, hitting .172/.333/.310, but he's a rookie and he is an interesting case study. Let's take a look.
First, the basics from the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book
Jason Coats, OF, Chicago White Sox
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-2 WT: 200 DOB: February 24, 1990
Coats was a 29th round pick in 2012 out of Texas Christian University. That was a deceptive slot: he was considered a second-round talent entering his junior year in 2012 but a poor campaign, followed by a knee injury, ruined his stock and cost him many thousands of dollars: his ultimate bonus was just the $1,000 courtesy check as a college senior in ‘13. Coats isn’t especially athletic and his physical tools are all considered rather fringy, but he does a good job getting to his power and adapted well to Triple-A pitching last year. He’s nothing special as a fielder or runner but is entering his prime power surge years at age 26. He could plausibly become a Scott Van Slyke or Jerry Sands-like role bat, with an outside chance to go Khris Davis on us if he maximizes his power. Grade C.
Coats hit .270/.313/.438 in Triple-A in 2015 with 17 homers and 11 steals in 489 at-bats. This year he is hitting a robust .329/.390'/.512 in Triple-A with eight homers, 19 walks, and 57 strikeouts in 246 at-bats. As noted above he has 29 at-bats in the majors and hasn't done much, but the sample is too small to mean anything really. It is notable that he's drawn five walks in his brief major league time,a much higher walk rate than typical for Coats, but again he'd need to repeat that in a larger sample.
The pre-season take hasn't changed. He can handle Triple-A pitching well and has a reputation for being willing and able to make adjustments at the plate. He won't win the 60-yard dash and isn't Roberto Clemente or Devon White with the glove, but he's not a slug on the bases and is a credible defender at the outfield corners. It seems plausible he can hit .250 with some power in the majors, enough to make him a viable role player. That's a nice thing to find in the 29th round.
Coats' power is generally to the pull side but he'll occasionally knock an opposite-way blast, as shown below.