This draft has shaped up very nicely for the Cardinals (thanks, Cubs!) and now they get the best pure hitter in the draft at #25. Signability is an issue, as Cox is a sophomore. I don’t think he’ll be able to do better in the stacked 2011 draft, so he’d be wise to sign, and I have to think the Cardinals will do what it takes to get it done. I wonder about his overall power potential, but at #25, this is absolutely tremendous.
Cox is a draft-eligible sophomore and one of the most advanced college bats in this year’s draft. He’s very strong, including strong hands and wrists, and is very short to the ball, hitting line drives to all fields, but with the ability to drive a ball on the inner half.
He was criticized after his freshman year for his strikeout total and cut down his swing to make more contact, with more walks than strikeouts this year. At third base, he has an above-average arm but heavy legs, although he makes up for the latter with good instincts and an aggressive style of play.
The fact that Cox could make such a significant adjustment at the plate in one year is impressive, and we’ve now seen him hit for power and for average and show the ability to get on base; when he puts all of that together in one season, he’ll be an All-Star.
Cox is the best pure hitter and top sophomore-eligible player in the draft. He hit just .266 as a freshman on Arkansas’ College World Series team a year ago, but improved as the season went on and adjusted his pull-happy approach when he arrived in the Cape Cod League. He hit .344 with wood bats and ranked as the top position prospect in the summer circuit, setting the stage for a breakout spring in which he was hitting .446/.532/.631 through mid-May. Cox has very good hands, a short, lefty stroke and nice command of the strike zone. He has an uncanny ability to hit the ball with authority to the opposite field. There’s some debate as to how much power he’ll have in the major leagues, but he has the bat speed to do damage once he adds more loft to his swing. He has plenty of strength, as evidenced by a titanic shot he blasted off the top of a 90-foot-tall scoreboard at the 2009 Southeastern Conference tournament. Six feet and 215 pounds, Cox is a decent athlete with fringy speed and range at third base. Not all scouts are sold on his defensive ability. He does have a strong arm—he threw in the low 90s as a reliever a year ago—and will put in the work to improve his reactions at third base. He also has seen time at second base, and one scout said his actions looked better there, but his athleticism is more suited for the hot corner. Cox turned down an $800,000 offer as a Dodgers 20th-round pick out of high school, and he’s in line to make two or three times as much as a top 10 choice this June.
FWIW, Keith Law tweets that the Cardinals made the pick of the night so far.