Continuing our series of 2017 MLB Draft profiles, we turn to the college hitter ranks with a look at Evan White, first baseman from the University of Kentucky Wildcats. One of the most dangerous hitters in the elite SEC, White’s combination of hitting, defense, and general athleticism makes him a candidate for the first round. Let’s take a look.
Evan White is from Gahanna, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. Although known to scouts as a prep, he was strongly committed to the University of Kentucky and was undrafted coming out of high school in 2014. He earned a regular spot in the Wildcats lineup as a freshman and has maintained it while improving his production each season.
In 599 college at-bats he’s hit .359/.414/.528 including a .391/.467/.679 mark in 156 at-bats this season, his playing time reduced some by hamstring issues.
White is a right-handed hitter but a left-handed thrower (an unconventional physical profile), listed at 6-3, 200, born March 26th, 1996.
White was listed at 6-3, 180 in high school but has filled out and added strength in college ball. Although he’s improved his power production from season to season (his isolated power marks rising from .092 to .159 to .288 over three years), his swing is geared more for line drives than home runs.
Opinions are mixed about how much home run power he’ll show at the highest levels. That said, his pure hitting skills are among the best in the college ranks and he’s expected to hit for average everywhere.
As interesting as the bat is, White stands out for his defense: he is a terrific defender at first base, a possible gold glover if he hits enough to play regularly in the majors. Both his arm strength and running speed are impressive and he would be an above-average defender at either outfield corner.
As noted above, long-term home run projection is the main question, plus the hits-right/fields-left profile is a traditional caution flag for scouts. White won’t have the platoon edge against pitchers most of the time and will have to maximize his offensive potential to play regularly at a corner in the majors. It isn’t a giant handicap if he hits as expected but it does add a bit more risk.
White’s polished bat will get him drafted early, perhaps in the back half of the first round to a team that believes in his power potential and certainly no later than the second round.
Video from 2080 Baseball