Moments after making the 13th overall pick in Mondays opening round of the first-year player draft, White Sox general manager Kenny Williams had good reason to hold his breath as his first pick, Courtney Hawkins, back-flipped through the air in an Ozzie Smith-like fashion. Needless to say, Williams deemed it the final backflip performance we will be seeing from the prospect now that he is White Sox property.
In keeping with past White Sox history, they selected a speedy outfield prospect with power potential which sounds familiar when you consider past draftees, Jared Mitchell, Brian Anderson and Joe Borchard who all possessed similar credentials when they were selected by the South Siders.
Hawkins attended Carroll High School in the baseball factory town of Corpus Christi, Texas, and his selection marks the first time the Sox have drafted a high school player since Providence Catholic pitching prospect Kris Honel was selected in 2001.
Hawkins hit .412 with 11 home runs, 38 RBIs, 53 runs, 17 stolen bases, and a .580 OBP. He also proved to be very effective on the mound, topping out at speeds as high as 93 mph and recording an 0.92 ERA. In fact, Hawkins pitched a complete game one hitter on Thursday to advance his team in the state playoffs. He proceeded to go 3-4 on Friday, leading his team to the state semis. This was all reason enough for Hawkins to be named the Gatorade Texas High School Baseball Player of the Year.
Although Hawkins has seen success on the mound, he's projected to work his way through the system as an outfielder, primarily in right. His powerful arm and superb speed make him a true defensive threat.
Along with his defensive ability, Hawkins has shown the ability to drive the ball to all fields throughout his high school career. He possesses a large amount of raw power and is about as strong as they come at the high school level. Hawkins already has the build of an MLB player and has yet to finish developing.
The long and short of it is Hawkins is a Grade-A raw athlete.
Along with his big bat and strong arm do come some drawbacks, as Hawkins has a free-swinging approach at the plate that may have worked at the high school level but could hinder him in his professional career. Scouts say he needs to develop the ability to identify pitches better therefore slowing down his overly aggressive mentality at the plate.
Also, Hawkins appears to have a hyper-active upper body when waiting for the pitch. It is likely that Sox hitting coaches will try and slow down his shoulder and hand coil during his pre-pitch batting routine. MLB.com ranked Hawkins the No. 12 prospect in the draft and had him being drafted as high as ninth to the Miami Marlins, but his over-eagerness in his plate approach may have scared some scouts away, dropping him down to the White Sox at No. 13.
Hawkins also possesses good character traits that attracted not only the White Sox but many other teams across baseball. He's an A- to B student in the classroom and is an active member of his community. He's also a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and spends a large portion of his time giving back to his community and engaging in numerous charitable endeavors.
Hawkins is a high risk, high reward-type athlete and it will be interesting to see how the White Sox organization goes about grooming his talent. If he does indeed reach his potential, he could be the impact bat the Sox are looking for as they plan their future.
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Joe Musso contributed to this article.