With the thirteenth pick in the 2012 MLB First Year Player Draft, the White Sox took high school outfielder Courtney Hawkins out of Mary Carroll High School in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hawkins signed quickly and was assigned to Bristol of the APPY League where he hit .272/.314/.401 with 3 home runs and 16 RBI in 159 plate appearances. He was then promoted to A-ball (Kannapolis) for 16 games where he had a .983 OPS. To finish out 2012, Hawkins was again promoted to A+ Winston-Salem for their playoff run, where in 5 games he hit .294.
But fortunes quickly reversed themselves after his first offseason as a professional.
Photo Credit: Jody Stewart, Winston Salem Dash
He began 2013 as a top-100 MLB prospect with big projections. Then with an aggressive placement by the White Sox at A+ Winston-Salem, he was the youngest player in the Carolina league at 19. It was just an all-around terrible season which was made even tougher when he hurt his knee in the middle of the season. In 425 plate appearances, Hawkins hit .179/.249/.384 with an OPS of .633.
Hawkins struck out 160 times and only walked 29 times. On the positive side of things, scouts have him as a plus defensive outfielder who could play center field if need be for a few years before switching to a corner spot. He also hit 19 homers which is really saying something since he only had 68 hits on the entire season … 28% of his hits were home runs and 56% of were extra base hits.
So now in 2014 comes a fresh start. Reports have said Hawkins has remained in good spirits despite a very disappointing season in 2013. So what should the Sox be expecting from Courtney Hawkins in 2014? I have personally pegged Hawkins for a huge bounce back season.
But what would be considered a success of a season? I think a full healthy campaign of 550-600 plate appearances would be a great start. I also think Hawkins just getting back to the basics could do a great deal for him. He has huge power potential along with good OBP skills. The strikeouts will always be there, but if he can cut them down between 20-25% it would be a great thing.
If you’re asking for a slash line, I would put it somewhere in the .250-.260/.330-.345/.480-.500 ranges. If he has a full healthy season and hits in these ranges, he should hit 25-30 home runs and drive in over 85 runs.
The main thing Hawkins hopefully learned from last season that the White Sox are still counting on him to be a special player. As we discussed here, he's still very much in the Sox' future plans. And he knows he is. Hawkins was one of the several guys in attendance for the hitting minicamp with new coach Todd Steverson last month.
He just needs to go out and let the game come to him.
Hawkins has all the tools to be a star, so he just needs to start to put it all together. He is still just 20 years old and will be one of the younger players in the Carolina League yet again, assuming he starts the year there.
We will be paying attention and keeping everyone up to date on how his progress is going. Hopefully, we'll have a lot to rave about.