Continuing our series of player profiles for the 2017 MLB Draft, we go back to the college ranks with a look at Texas Christian University catcher Evan Skoug. He has one of the most powerful bats available, albeit with some questions.
Skoug grew up in Libertyville, Illinois. He was on the scouting radar in high school but as an excellent student with a strong commitment to Texas Christian, he lasted until the 34th round in the 2014 draft where he was selected by the Washington Nationals. Obviously he didn’t sign.
He was a starter immediately as a freshman, hitting .285/.365/.426. He improved to .301/.390/.502 as a sophomore, following up with a .258/.301/.351 trek through the Cape Cod League in 2016.
Expected to be a first-rounder for 2017, he got off to a very slow start, hurting his stock in the early going and hitting under .200 for the first month. He warmed up in April and regained much of the lost ground, currently hitting .278/.387/.547 with 18 homers, 38 walks, and 84 strikeouts in 234 at-bats.
Skoug is listed at 5-11, 200, a left-handed hitter born October 21st, 1995. He features at least 60-grade raw power and is one of the most dangerous hitters in college baseball when he’s going well, generating power to all fields with a short, powerful swing. He’ll work a count and can draw walks.
On defense, Skoug has an average arm but his release is reasonably quick, throwing out 31% of runners on the season. Everyone praises his work ethic and ability to lead pitchers and run the infield.
Early in the year Skoug lost the touch with his hitting approach, lengthening his swing. Although Skoug heated up in Big 12 play and has demonstrated his power in recent weeks, he’ll have to show he can keep his swing from getting too long in pro ball. He didn’t hit especially well in the Cape Cod League, fanning 24 times in 97 at-bats with just five walks, adding a bit more uncertainty.
Some scouts question his receiving skills and project a move to first base. His effort behind the plate is unquestioned but he remains rather error-prone. This can improve with more experience but like his early hitting slump, it adds uncertainty.
Skoug was a projected first round pick six months ago. His stock dropped as low as third round range after his slow start, but his hot hitting in recent weeks has moved him back up.
Right now he looks like a second round choice, but there’s still a chance he can come off the board sooner than that for a team coveting his power and willing to be patient with his glove.