SDI Prospect Rankings – #14 Eric Jenkins
The 45th overall pick in the 2015 Amatuer Draft, Eric Jenkins checks in at #14 on the SDI prospect list. To see the rest of the SDI Rankings just click below.
A speedy center fielder, Jenkins has two carrying traits to hitch his wagon to – his legs and his glove. While MLB.com has his wheels graded out at a 6 (plus), I have seen home to first times that would put the tool at a 7 (plus plus). Anyone who can run and play well at a premium position immediately is less risky than other prospects. Even if nearly all of his development goes wrong, those two abilities maintain him as a valuable asset.
At the plate, the 18-year-old North Carolina product is raw. Having not seen him, there is little insight I can provide past what MLB.com has to offer (the Arizona League is kind of a black hole for information). Below is the write-up, courtesy of the MLB.com prospect team, who have a future 5 (average) and 4 (minus) on his hit and power tools:
Unlike a lot of speedsters, Jenkins can do more than just slap at the ball. He has quickness to his left-handed swing and some feel for manipulating the bat head. He won’t be a slugger but he has some pull power and could reach double figures in homers once he adds strength.
A year ago, Jenkins was very groundball heavy with 54.9% of his balls in play coming on the ground. While not ideal, this wouldn’t be all bad for a speedster if his spray chart (below, from MLBfarm.com) didn’t show a pull-heavy groundball spread. It isn’t easy to beat out grounders to the first or second baseman.
This likely was a large reason for his struggles in 2015. Keep in mind that any Arizona League statistics must be taken with a very fine grain of salt. In 200 AZL plate appearances Jenkins slashed .249/.342/.339 while stealing 27 bases on 30 attempts and striking out/walking 27.8%/11.2% of the time. In a very small Low-A Hickory sample size, he managed seven hits in 18 at-bats.
Likely, Eric Jenkins will start 2016 in Hickory and finish 2016 in Hickory. He will start the season at just 19 years of age which would make him very young for the league, but Texas tends to be aggressive with the assignments of its hitting prospects. If everything goes right with Jenkins development, he’ll become an above average everyday center fielder. If not, he still possibly receives big league service time as either a 4th/5th outfielder or as an emergency or September call-up.