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2022 Mets Draft profile: Chase Estep

With their ninth-round selection in the 2022 MLB Draft, 269th overall, the Mets selected Chase Estep, a third baseman from the University of Kentucky.

Chase Estep has deep ties to the University of Kentucky, the college that he would eventually attend. His father, Chad, played baseball for the Wildcats in the early ‘90s. His uncle, Chris, played for them in the mid-to-late ‘80s and was eventually drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates. A two-sport star at Corbin High School in Corbin, Kentucky, a blue-collar town in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, it was only a matter of time before Chase followed in the footsteps of his father and uncle. “My cousin was C. Estep and he wore 24, and I was C. Estep and I was 24, so I thought for sure when Chase got there he would be the 3rd C. Estep 24,” his father said. Despite being considered one of the better prep prospects from Kentucky available in the 2019 MLB Draft, Estep went undrafted because his strong commitment to the University of Kentucky.

Estep appeared in 12 games in his freshman year, the NCAA cancelling the season in mid-March, and hit .324/.400/.441 with a single home run, a single stolen base in two attempts, and 5 walks to 7 strikeouts. Later that summer, he played for the Rockford Rivets in the Northwoods League and hit .250/.370/.412 in 19 games with 3 home runs, 2 stolen bases in 3 attempts, and 13 walks to 19 strikeouts.

Estep appeared in 40 games in 2021, his sophomore year, starting 39 games at either second or third base. The year was a disappointment by any measure, as he hit .252/.286/.329 with no home runs, 5 stolen bases in as many attempts, and 8 walks to 32 strikeouts. As he did in 2020, he returned to the Northwoods League following the conclusion of the season, this time playing for the Kenosha Kingfish. He hit an improved .294/.420/.413 in 40 games, with 2 home runs, 4 stolen bases in 8 attempts, and 20 walks to 21 strikeouts. Returning to Kentucky for his junior year, Estep worked with his coaches and trainers to return to the fundamentals and continue doing the things that had worked for him while playing in Kenosha. The swing optimizations paid off, as he hit .302/.416/.560 in 59 games for the Wildcats, hitting 13 home runs, stealing 16 bases in 20 attempts, and walking 40 times to 56 strikeouts.

Estep stands square at the plate, holding his hands high. He swings with a toe tap and has a quick, smooth left-handed strike that is direct to the ball. He was one of the better bat-to-ball hitters in the SEC in 2022, but many scouts and evaluators have questions as to how legitimate this transformation is, as he hit .213/.312/.382 against in-conference pitchers and exhibited extreme splits against pedestrian and premium velocity, hitting .360/.495/.767 against fastballs that were 92 MPH or slower but .212/.316/.242 against fastballs that were 93 MPH or higher.

Defensively, Estep profiles best at second or third base. He shows good reaction times at the hot corner and lateral range, but his arm is average at best, and as a result, a bit stretched at third.