The Chicago White Sox waited until the 5th round before they selected a position player in the 2010 MLB Draft. The Sox had drafted pitchers with their first 5 picks before they turned to University of Arkansas first baseman Andy Wilkins.
Wilkins, 21, was previously drafted in the 25th round of the 2007 draft out of high school by the Texas Rangers. At the time, he was considered the best high school hitter in Oklahoma with a short, strong lefthanded stroke. He slipped to the 25th round due to signability issues and because scouts did not feel he would be able to stick at 3B.
During Wilkins’ first two years as a Razorback, playing predominantly at 1B, he did nothing but hit, putting up a .331/.411/.588 line as a freshman and a .319/.442/.638 line as a sophomore. As a junior, Wilkins’ numbers decreased slightly to .276/.394/.547, but he did walk more than he struck out with 43 BB/42 SO. He has had problems with the strikeout, whiffing in 16.7% of his PA’s at Arkansas, but that number has gotten gradual better during his career. As a freshman he struck out in 18.4% of his PA’s, that number fell to 17.4% as a sophomore and then to 15.1% as a junior. It is this type of development that you like to see in a young hitter and it shows Wilkins’ ability to improve his pitch recognition.
The scouting reports indicate that Wilkins has very good power potential, and this is backed up by the college numbers, but the scouts also see holes in Wilkins’ swing and suggest that he could have major problems hitting quality breaking pitches. Scouts also see him as a player who could take a while to adjust to hitting with a wood bat, although he put in a decent showing at the ’08 Cape Cod League hitting .271/.356/.450 with Yarmouth-Dennis. Defensively he is at least average at 1B. General consensus had Wilkins listed as a 7th to 10th round prospect, making him a slight overdraft here in the 5th round.
At best, Andy Wilkins could become a prototypical high OBP slugger at the Major League level. At worst, Wilkins could flame out at the Double-A level if it turns out that he cannot hit the quality breaking pitches that he would likely face there. He profiles well statistically and having done some analysis into his game, I like the pick quite a bit. He’s kind of a “wait and see” type prospect, but one who I feel may surprise.