White Sox draft high school speedster James Beard in fourth round

Courtney Hawkins was the last Chicago White Sox first round draft pick out of high school in 2012, and following the selection of California first baseman Andrew Vaughn, the streak continues. However, the White Sox selected three consecutive prep products in rounds 2-4. Centerfielder James Beard becomes the latest addition to a freshly bolstered high school draft approach.

Beard is considered by some the fastest player in this draft class out of Lloyd Star High School in Mississippi. His best tool is his 80-grade speed, which allows him to beat out routine groundballs on occasion, but his bat-speed and strength in his hands could translate to plus hitting tools with modest power as he enters the professional scene.

Beard has game-changing ability on the base paths with his plus speed. At 6-feet tall and 190-pounds as an 18-year-old, Beard possesses an already built frame with room to grow. MLB Pipeline ranked Beard as the 127th best prospect in the class and the White Sox got him at pick No. 110.

From MLB Pipeline:

He clocked a 6.21-second 60-yard dash at a Prospect Development Pipeline event last June and wreaked havoc on the bases at the East Coast Pro showcase in August. He has almost no history against quality pitching and faces weak prep competition, so scouts aren’t sure what to make of his bat, but he has enough promise that he could go as early as the third round. Beard shows the potential to make some impact at the plate. He’ll have to prove he can manage the strike zone and handle breaking pitches, but he has the upside of at least an average hitter with double-digit home run power.

Here his MLB.com’s evaluation of James Beard with video highlights:

The approximate slot value of the fourth round pick is $527,800. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s an advanced college first baseman in the first round, followed by high school right-hander Matthew Thompson, high school right-hander Andrew Dunquist and now a high school speedster with a healthy ceiling in James Beard.

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