Prospect Talk

Prospect Spotlight: Sebastian Walcott

A bronze statue stands behind the left field seats. A hitter finishing his swing, frozen for all eternity. A reminder to all of those who walk past it, this man, this player, was a special talent and a force to be reckoned with. The pose is just as iconic as a Nolan Ryan fastball, or a Ken Griffey Jr. home run swing. The left hand, alone on the bat, finishes the majestic swing high into the air. The right hand, off the bat and in front of the chest, as if trying to hold on tight to the heart of the player. A one-of-a-kind swing, belonging to a Hall of Fame inductee, but is it one of a kind?

At the start of the 2023 season, on a dirt field in the Dominican Republic, a young 17-year-old kid steps to the plate to begin his pro career. Sebastian Walcott had just signed out of Nassau, Bahamas for one of the larger bonuses of the 2023 J15 International Class, $3.2 million. Would he light the Dominican Summer League (DSL) on fire? Would he dominate as a reflection of the large signing bonus? It was more like a whimper, as he would play in just nine games and hit a measly .191. Despite his play, the Texas Rangers decided to get aggressive with his assignment and promote him stateside to Rookie-ball in the Arizona Complex League. 

After a week off to allow for travel and adjustment, Walcott got into his first game at Rookie-ball and didn’t disappoint. A reported 432-foot home run, with an exit velocity of 109 mph, would announce his quick climb up prospect rankings. It was a swing that was reminiscent of a Hall of Famer, upright stance, bat on the shoulder, left hand finishing the swing high, with the right hand coming across the chest. Was this Frank Thomas playing a prank on everyone, no it was Walcott displaying his immense talents that the Rangers expected to see from him. The veil had been lifted and this special player would ascend after mashing at Rookie-ball. In 35 games, he would show off his power with seven home runs and nine doubles. It didn’t matter that he was one of the youngest players night in and night out, he would end up putting up a triple slash line of .273/.325/.525. Even though it seemed like everything was coming up sunshine and rainbows for him, there was a big hole in his game that was holding him back, making contact. He had a 32.5% strikeout rate and a 6.4% walk rate in those 35 games. 

Towards the end of the season, the Rangers opted to give Walcott more experience and gave him an ultra-aggressive assignment to High-A. It wasn’t many games, only four, but the exposure to much better starting pitchers was undoubtedly the goal. He did have three walks, which was a great sign that he could take walks against tougher competition. He also managed to rope a double down the left field line in his first at-bat, showing that even at 17 years old in High-A, he wasn’t overmatched. 

2024 Fantasy Outlook

The 2023 season was just a showcase for Walcott, a sort of sampler for the fans. The 2024 season is where the real work begins. Expect Walcott to start out at High-A if the Rangers continue being aggressive with his assignments. He will need to show big improvements with the swing-and-miss aspect of his game. He could do this by shortening his leg kick load, or by removing it altogether as it can cause timing issues the higher a prospect moves up through the minors. Standing at 6’4” already, he doesn’t necessarily need the big load to produce power. Regardless, he will need to find a way to make a lot more contact while also recognizing pitches and being patient enough to draw walks. If everything comes together for him, look for his prospect ranking to jump again, this time into the overall top 40.

The Author

Brian Labude

Brian Labude

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