Image: Courtesy Long Beach State Athletics

The Cleveland Indians selected Connor Kokx- centerfielder with the 12th round pick (366th overall) in the 2021 MLB Draft.

Connor Kokx – Centerfielder

School: Long Beach State
Age: 21
Height: 6’1; Weight: 195
Bats: Right; Throws: Right

Willie Hood’s Analysis:

He was injured his freshman season at Long Beach State Kokx received a medical redshirt. Entering 2020 healthy and hopeful for an opportunity, the young outfielder was once again shut down by the raging global pandemic. Kokx entered 2021 as a third-year redshirt freshman with an additional year of eligibility granted by the NCAA. The Freshman All-American responded to his opportunity by recording a .366/.481/.571 slash line this past season. Appearing in the Cape Cod League with the Orleans Firebirds this summer against some of the nation’s strongest competition (small sample warning), he recorded a .255 batting average with 3 doubles, 2 stolen bases, striking out 12 times in 55 plates appearances, and drawing 4 walks.

Kokx is a table-setter, a top-of-the-order type of hitter with at least above-average speed. A former prep middle infielder/outfielder, he now finds his home in centerfield. He appears to display an advanced approach at the plate with an 11.48 BB% compared to 14.35 SO%. Per Scott Barnsby, he displays “a plan at the plate and is a fearless defender.” The right-handed-hitting outfielder’s career XBH rate sits sub-30%, indicative of below-average power. Still, he appears athletic and displays enough strength and bat speed to improve with professional development. His spray chart with the Orleans Firebirds seems to indicate an all-fields approach that’s slightly pull-heavy (again, small sample warning). The young for the draft class outfielder likely slipped down draft boards due to the unusual collegiate track record; in fairness, that is no fault of his own. With multiple years of remaining collegiate eligibility, there’s a good chance Kokx will exceed the $125 thousand pool allotment attached to each pick in rounds 11-20.

Justin Lada’s take:

Cleveland has had a penchant for grabbing undervalued outfielders recently. Other interesting names include Julian Escobedo, Korey Holland, Micah Pries, to name a few. It’s still to be determined how those picks will work out but it’s easy to see what Cleveland is interested in here. Cokx has a swing that is quick to the ball and has some loft and pop in there. He’s an above average runner and plays a good centerfield. Add in that he doesn’t strike out much, has a good feel for the strike zone and works plenty of walks, this adds up to a skill set Cleveland likes to work with and help add some power. Sleeper upside for a pretty good bench outfielder if nothing more. The team is banking on some upside better than that though, drafting him with a short track record but liking the data and tools.

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