Continuing our look at the Mets’ options with the seventh overall pick in June’s amateur draft, today we’ll take a look at high school slugger Josh Sale.
Previous profiles: Christian Colon, A.J. Cole
School: Bishop Blanchet H.S. (Seattle, WA)
Weight: 215 lbs.
Position: Third base / Outfield
What He Brings
Two words: raw power. Watch the video below, and you’ll be immediately struck by how much muscle this kid is carrying. Before you automatically shout "steroids!" keep in mind that it’s also in Sale’s genes: his father, a Samoan immigrant, was a drug-free weight lifter back in the ’70s and put Josh on a strict weight program when he was eight years old. Sale benches 365, squats 540, and leg presses 735-plus. He also has tremendous core strength. At the very least, he’s a physical specimen.
How does the strength translate at the plate? Pretty well. He has some extraordinary bat speed, and while he can be a little arm oriented in his swing, he has enough upper body strength to consistently muscle balls down the line. If he can get everything working in concert—the arms, the hips, the legs—and learns to wait on the pitch a little more, he’ll have tremendous power to all fields.
And the power isn’t all he brings to the batter’s box. He’s got a very solid approach at the plate, one centered around waiting for a pitch he can drive. He’s been very patient this season, and I can see him being a relatively fast riser for a high schooler for this very reason. And with his bat speed, there’s little reason why he couldn’t be a guy who makes average or better contact.
And while Sale is carry a lot of bulk, he’s not a bad athlete. He doesn’t have a wide frame at all, he’s very trim, and some reports have him with solid-average speed. That won’t be the case when he gets to the majors—expect him to be below average at that point—but he’s athletic enough where I don’t expect him to be a total disaster in the outfield. He’s worked hard—his work ethic is a plus, and he’s a fairly bright kid by all appearances—to get his arm to be above average.
What He Doesn’t Bring
He’s currently a third baseman, but don’t expect him to stay there. Like I said, he’s too athletic to be a total butcher there right now, but many are skeptical as to how well he’ll handle the position as the game speeds up. Almost every scout sees him as a future corner outfielder.
The other big question concerns his swing. His mechanics are unorthodox. He points his feet inward which robs him of a little balance, and as the ball approaches, he really winds up his swing. This has two adverse effects. First, he draws his bat backward, adding quite a bit of length to what would otherwise be a decent swing path. And second, he bars his right arm, which will hinder his ability to make adjustments mid-swing. He might not be able to handle good breaking balls as a result. The other problem is that he tends to jump out of his low squat into his stride, leaking some of the power in his swing, and de-synchronizing his torso and hip rotation. More often than not, his power is just brute force to the pull side. He also tends to hit the ball way out in front of his body, and he’ll need to trust his natural bat speed a little more. Fixing these things might not be easy, and I think at the very least he’ll need to introduce a better timing mechanism to get his swing better coordinated.
One final point: Sale turned down a ton of offers to big-time programs to commit to Gonzaga. He has a viable alternative, but I do expect him to turn it down in favor of early first-round money. I’d call him a medium signability risk at the number seven pick.
Josh Sale is probably the best pure hitter in this year’s high school draft class, depending on what you consider Bryce Harper. When you evaluate high school prospects, there are two things you have to consider: what is this kid’s ceiling, and what will this kid be with minimal improvement? In Sale’s case, he’s got the potential to be a .300 hitter with big-time power. Personally, I think there’s too much going on in his swing for that to be at all likely, but if he cleans up his mechanics, sure, why not? And if he only improves nominally? Well, then I can see him as more of a three true outcomes slugger, a guy who draws plenty of walks, strikes out frequently, and has the ability to hit 30 homers or more a year. And a guy like that is pretty damn useful. The lack of tons of athleticism will hinder his future value, but the bat should play at any position, so I wouldn’t worry too much.
I do expect Sale to be there when the Mets pick, and I’d hope the Mets consider him when they make up their minds. Sale’s got power, patience, and bat speed on his side, and those are three things that translate well to professional baseball.