2013 Top Prospects #27: Chris Hawkins
By Kyle Matte
The number 27 prospect on the countdown is an outfielder who raised expectations extremely high with a monstrous 2011 season, and failed to live up to them in the much tougher Midwest League environment.
Chris Hawkins at a Perfect Game showcase event (Image courtesy PerfectGame.org)
Name: Chris Hawkins
Position: Corner Outfield
Date of Birth: 8/17/1991 (21)
Acquired: Selected in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft ($350,000 USD)
High School: North Gwinnett (Sugar Hill, Georgia)
College: Had commitment to Tennessee
Height/Weight: 6’2”/195 lbs
Awards and Accomplishments:
- Ranked 15th on 2012 Top 30 prospects list
- 2012 Midwest League Mid-Season All Star
- 2011 #11 prospect in Appalachian League (Baseball America)
- 2011 Appalachian League Post-Season All Star
- 2010 Southeast All Region 2nd Team
2012 Statistics and Analysis
491 AB, .269/.331/.332 (.663 OPS), 17 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR, 43 RBI, 11 SB, 46/78 BB/K
After a breakout 2011 season with Bluefield, expectations were raised for the follow up in Lansing. The year started off quite well for Hawkins, as in the first two months of the year, he put together a .321/.355/.409 slash line. Things then fell of precipitously, particularly in the power department. Over the remaining 76 games, Hawkins would manage only nine doubles, one triple, and one home run, for a .282 slugging percentage and 47 ISO. It was a very puzzling development, as in 68 games for Bluefield in the previous season, he had a .492 slugging percentage and 174 ISO. While the disappearance of the power was disappointing, Hawkins made improvements with his plate discipline, and continued to excel o the base paths.
Video (via MLBProspectPortal.com)
Hawkins sets himself at the plate with his front foot open and a crouched stance. His swing is very simple and clean, without any obvious hitches. The swing path is short, allowing Hawkins to be quick to the ball while possessing good, but not great bat speed. He has a very shallow swing angle, as his game isn’t focused on generating loft. Hawkins covers the outer half of the plate well, and has shown a willingness to use all fields as opposed to focusing on pulling everything.
Hawkins has a very well rounded set of skills. The bat is the premium tool in the workshop, as while he possesses merely average bat speed, he has an advanced plate approach and excellent plate coverage. A potentially plus tool, the bat needs a greater contribution from the power to reach its ceiling. Hawkins is eager to put the ball in play, and while he has the ability to do so and find grass, he might be better served waiting for a more ideal pitch that he could drive with authority. Despite a strong frame the power is presently well below average, and it’s hard to project anything beyond average at this point.
With plus athleticism and good instincts, Hawkins is an excellent base runner. It could be argued that his athleticism is his most valuable trait, as it’s allowed him to make a smooth transition from shortstop, to third base, to the outfield corner. The reasoning behind the defensive shift is that while Hawkins has the aforementioned athleticism, his movements aren’t as smooth as those required by an infielder. In the outfield, he can cut loose and use his natural ability to be an above average defender. His arm is focused more towards accuracy than raw strength, but he sets up well for his throws and has excelled at throwing out base runners. Hawkins could play in right field, but ultimately unless the power makes big strides he has more of a left field profile.
The perfect world projection for Chris Hawkins would be an everyday corner outfielder whose skill set allows him to be a versatile number two hitter; 2nd division starter.
2013 Outlook, Risk, and ETA
Despite the lackluster finish with Lansing, Hawkins will receive a promotion to High-A with the Dunedin Blue Jays. There, he’ll attempt to rediscover his power stroke, something that could prove to be exceedingly difficult given the humidity, heavy air, and low elevations of the Florida State League. The risk is greater now than it was a year ago, as it’s hard to foresee a corner outfielder finding long term success without a positive contribution from his power. With that being said, if Hawkins puts the pieces back together, he could move very quickly. He does the things well that coaches really like, and his overall game should be capable of handling the upper levels of the minor leagues. If things break right, he could seemingly find his way to Toronto in the first half of 2015.