Blue Jays prospect Reggie Pruitt is entering his ‘prove it’ years as a prospect after a slow start to his career at the plate
Reggie Pruitt fits the blueprint of an Alex Anthopoulos outfielder perfectly.
Now 19, Pruitt is an exceptional athlete with true plus speed and the ability to stick in centre-field long term. This puts him in the same lane as Anthony Alford, Dalton Pompey, Anthony Gose, Roemon Fields, D.J. Davis, and others.
Pruitt’s make-or-break tool, not surprisingly, is his bat. Because of this, the gap between his potential ceiling and potential floor may be as wide as any prospect in the Blue Jays’ organization.
To the prospect optimist who dares to dream, there’s plenty to like.
Name: Reggie Pruitt
Position: CF Age: 20
Height: 6’0” Age: 169 lbs.
Throws: Right Bats: Right
Acquired: 2015, MLB Draft (Round 24)
Don’t allow Pruitt’s draft slot to trick you. Much like fellow prospect Rowdy Tellez, Pruitt saw his stock plummet as many teams believed that his college commitment would be too strong to sign him away from.
The Blue Jays decided to take the risk, and were able to tempt him away from Vanderbilt with a $500,000 signing bonus. Had Pruitt’s draft stock not been impacted by that variable, it was very likely that he would have been selected in the first five rounds.
After debuting in the Gulf Coast league in 2015, Pruitt was moved to the Bluefield Blue Jays in the Appalachian League this summer where his numbers remained relatively similar.
It’s important to note with Pruitt — or any player in rookie ball — that these seasons are not necessarily long enough to draw sweeping conclusions from. Across both seasons, Pruitt has appeared in just 82 games with under 350 at-bats, which by itself would be a “short” season for prospects in the upper minors.
One area where Pruitt has succeeded is on the bases. While his stolen base totals may not jump off the page, 31 steals on 35 attempts (89%) over 82 games is very impressive.
Pruitt is not a power hitter and will never need to be, but his ability to drive the ball to the outfield will be a significant asset to his prospect development. Given his speed, a shallow single can quickly turn into a double and a double can quickly turn into a triple.
Looking at Pruitt’s swing in slow motion from his draft year, it’s easy to see why some evaluators suggested at the time that his swing might need to be rebuilt.
Pay close attention to his front foot towards the end of the swing. With the high leg kick early in his swing, Pruitt’s foot falls early and moves slightly back towards his plant foot (right foot).
This is where power and balance can be lost for young hitters. At the time of contact, Pruitt’s hips are still somewhat stiff (which is related to that leg kick), and that forced him to rely very heavily on his arms and hands in the swing. For a hulking first-baseman, that might work out fine in a pinch. For a 169-pound speedster, it’s not ideal.
That’s the pessimist’s view, however. Looking to the positive side of Pruitt’s swing, he appears to have all of the necessary hand quickness and natural bat-on-ball ability. If you give the exact same swing mechanics to Pruitt and an “average” prospect, Pruitt’s raw athleticism and tools will make him win 10 times out of 10.
His hit tool will not need to carry him, either. Pruitt’s defence has the potential to be a strong plus while scouts like his arm (which is often the one defensive weakness found in prospects similar to Pruitt). If Pruitt can drag that OPS up past the .600 mark and towards .700 — at least for the time being — his legs and glove will be more than enough to keep his prospect shine alive for the next season or two.
The big question with Pruitt is how the Blue Jays will handle his development. On one hand, there’s a sensible case to be made for bringing Pruitt along slowly and managing his offensive game very closely.
On the other hand, it would also be understandable if the Blue Jays would like to get Pruitt to Lansing as quickly as possible where he could rack up more at-bats. Reps could be the name of the game, and depending on the prospect’s personality, that can be a beneficial route to take (I’ve heard nothing to suggest that Pruitt does not have the makeup to handle that very well).
In terms of “lottery tickets”, Pruitt is among the Blue Jays’ best on the positional side. Just as D.J. Davis has been given a very long leash based on his raw talent, Pruitt should receive the same.
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