When we released our Mid-Season Top 50 Prospects eBook last week (which you can purchase here and get reports on all 50 prospects), we had a few extra profiles written up in the event that a player was traded away, released, or named later. Sure enough, the day we published the book, Chris Bostick was designated for assignment, and was later traded to the Marlins.
Bostick was our number 36 ranked prospect in the system, and his departure opens a spot at the back of the list. Conner Uselton was next up for us, and moves into our top 50 with the departure of Bostick.
We had a few questions about where Uselton was ranked, and pointed out in the past that he was just outside of the top 50. Other outlets have him rated much higher. We had him lower due to a combination of the poor performance this year, the reduction in speed after his hamstring injury last year, and the older age for a guy coming out of high school.
I feel like the status of a big bonus, second round pick is still elevating Uselton in some rankings. We ignore those factors and only focus on the player. In this case, you’ve got a player who has some upside and projection, with a lot of raw power potential, but who hasn’t seen that translate to the stats, and who has struggled while losing some speed after an injury. Uselton has some upside, but is a project, reflecting his standing in the back of the top 50. Here is the report we wrote up for the book:
Uselton was drafted 72nd overall last year out of high school and the Pirates gave him a $900,000 bonus. He was an athletic 6’3″ righty bat with big power potential, who profiled as a corner outfielder, but he could possibly play some center field. We were there to see him pick up three hits in his pro debut and it was a good thing we showed up then, because he was injured in his second game. Uselton had a small tear in his hamstring, which put him out for the season. We rated him 33rd overall in our 2018 guide which was lower than most. That was due to the unknown from the injury, the lost time and the fact that he was old for his draft class, turning 19 weeks before the draft.
Uselton impressed at the plate in Extended Spring Training this year with his ability to make hard contact. He didn’t have the best results, but he was doing much better than what we have seen with Bristol this season. His .570 OPS through play on August 2nd had him just four spots above the worst hitter in the league and he is still looking for his first homer in pro ball. The athleticism we heard about has not shown, as he’s an average runner at best and he doesn’t cover much ground in right field, making center field very unlikely for his future. His one strength this season has been an above average arm, though he’s still looking for his first outfield assist.