Following their senior year of high school, most 17- and 18-year-olds would be preparing for their first semester of college, but Austin Beck and Heliot Ramos will be training for the start of their professional careers.
With the sixth overall pick, the Oakland A’s selected Beck out of North Davidson High School while the San Francisco Giants selected Ramos with the 19th overall pick out of Leadership Christian Academy.
A season after tearing his left ACL, an injury which forced him to side on the sidelines during last summer and fall, Beck made his way back onto the field and proved he was worthy of Mike Trout comparisons.
In his senior season at North Davidson, Beck posted video-game numbers, batting .590 with an on-base percentage of .700 while slugging 12 home runs and driving in 38 runs.
Beck initially committed to play for the University of North Carolina, but with such a high selection plus the suggested $5.3 million coming with that spot, the outfielder made the easy decision to go pro.
Prior to the draft, the A’s hosted a workout at the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum and the team was impressed by the 18-year-old’s ability to clear the fence and then some. “He hit in our stadium like big-leaguers hit in our stadium,” said Oakland’s scouting director Eric Kubota in a SF Gate article.
Scouts have lauded Beck’s potential to become a five-tool phenomenon. Based on multiple showcases, Beck has proven he has both great speed and a great arm, posting a 6.52 60-yard dash time while touching 92 MPH from the outfield prior to his junior year.
“His hitting approach is outstanding, with a balanced set up and directional stride at the plate,” said David Rawnsley, Perfect Game’s vice president of player personnel.
Beck hasn’t displayed any glaring weaknesses in his game thus far, although missing significant time because of injury robbed scouts of seeing him perform against a high level of competition.
While Oakland has an All-Star caliber left fielder in Khris Davis, who currently leads the A’s with 17 home runs through 68 games and slugged a career-high 42 home runs last season, the team’s center and right field situation remains more ambiguous.
According to FanGraphs’ depth charts, Oakland’s center field depth ranks 29th in the league while their right field depth ranks 24th.
The A’s only have four outfielders among the organization’s top 30 prospects, the highest ranked being Lázaro Armenteros at No. 8. Daulton Jefferies, former pitcher for the Cal baseball team, is currently ranked No. 6.
San Francisco’s outfield unit has struggled all season long; through 71 games, outfielders are hitting a combined .244/.295/.347 (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage) with a WAR of -0.6.
The organization drafted Bryan Reynolds out of Vanderbilt last season with their first selection in the draft and are following suit by selecting another outfielder in Ramos.
Scouts list Ramos as a power-hitting right-handed bat who many also consider to have five-tool potential, especially as one of the younger players in this year’s draft.
San Francisco’s selection of Ramos came as a bit of a surprise, especially with collegiate pitchers such as Oregon southpaw David Peterson who surprisingly fell out of the top 10, but the organization’s tolerance of the outfield has grown thin.
Manager Bruce Bochy has started 10 different players in left field and Pence and Span have struggled to stay on the field, further pushing the Giants to draft Ramos.
The Giants’ need of a quality outfielder is clear, but the organization’s farm system has struggled to develop their outfield prospects. Former highly touted first-round selection Gary Brown had his cup of coffee but never developed into an everyday player while the duo of Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson haven’t panned out.
Ramos verbally committed to Florida International, but will sign for around $3.1 million.