Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Prospect Countdown: #16 Zane Evans

16. Zane Evans Catcher

Age: 22
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 209
B/T: R/R
Acquired: Drafted in the 4th Round of the 2013 Amateur Draft

Landon Adams (18): Early returns on the Royals 2013 fourth round pick have been extremely positive after he mashed in the Pioneer League to start his professional career. Last season the former Yellow Jacket was able to square up balls 29% of the time. This was a line drive percentage that led the circuit. Thanks to this supreme ability to put bat to ball, Evans ranked second in the Pioneer League in wOBA for 2013.

Evans isn't a total slouch behind the plate either. While it is said he needs some work in his game calling, he does have a cannon for an arm, having been a two way player at Georgia Tech. Evans is a strong prospect, but ultimately advanced college hitters should do well in the advanced Rookie League. Before I put him too high on my list, I need to see him do it at higher levels, an opportunity he should get in Wilmington to open 2014.

Paden Bennett (13): I really like Zane Evans.  He is at a position (catcher) where if you can hit, you are extremely valuable.  The Royals took Evans in the 4th round of the 2013 Amateur Draft out of Georgia Tech and Evans had a great first season for Idaho Falls.  .352/.394/.537 and a .931 OPS isn't bad at all for your first big league season.  Still, Evans is 22 and will need to start to move through the system fairly quickly before he is considered "too old" as a minor league player.  I look for Evans to open with Lexington and continue to hit well.

Joe Cox (23): Zane Evans was a 4th round pick in last season’s draft, and the Royals have got to be happy with his brief 2013 debut.  Evans, a talented two way player whose fastball can touch 96MPH, was drafted as an offensive minded catcher.  Scouting reports say he could have the bat to be a first division starter with average power and on base skills.  

In his 175 PA debut, Evens showed power and the ability to make contact with a .931 OPS and a K rate of just 14.3%.  Time will tell with Evans, who recently turned 22 (and has one of my least favorite first names), but you have to like two way players who can catch.  I will be excited to see how consistent his bat will be in 2014, and if all else fails maybe he can be the Royals version of catcher to pitcher converts such as Kenley Jansen and Trevor Rosenthal. 

Dan Ware (18): Evans is a product of the Georgia Tech baseball program, who showcased a great 3 year career before signing with the Royals. In college, he played both on the mound and behind the plate.  As a hitter, Zane features great discipline, which only improved as he progressed through the system by increase walks and decreasing strikeouts.  His first 2 years were..ok. His junior season was monsterous, hitting .361 with 14 HR 66 RBI and 33 BB. When he's on the mound, he posses a lightning fastball that can touch 96 mph and a solid slider.

In his pro debut, Evans hit .352/.394/.537 with 4 HR and 31 RBI in only 41 games.  Although it was short season ball, 2013 was still an impressive showing from the 22 year old.  If he has a great spring, the Royals could very well add him to Lexington's roster to open 2014.

Nicholas Ian Allen (--): Zane Evans got off to a great start in his professional career with Idaho Falls. The Georgia native is an offensive catcher, truly a rarity and a valuable asset. The work for Evans will be behind the plate. Evans has a sturdy frame that should hold up to the position. He is smart, having been a member of the ACC All-Academic Team and ACC Academic Honor Roll, which is no trivial matter: Georgia Tech isn't exactly an easy school - ask my brother-in-law. Evans will continue to develop as a catcher. Despite a noted strong arm, his release was slow and his footwork and mechanics were very raw coming out of college. He will benefit from Spring Training and a full season of professional coaching. 

The biggest upside for Evans is his bat. Known as a disciplined hitter, he anchored the middle of the order for the Chukars and hit third or cleanup in all but one game. The twenty-two year old hit in every situation in the Pioneer League, accumulating an average higher than .340 and with an on-base percentage greater than .394 when leading off an inning, with runners on base, runners in scoring position and with runners on and RISP with two outs. He really did damage with RISP (.434/.462/.678 in 59 ABs). 

Evans has tremendous upside as a hitting catcher. At this early stage in his career, his bat seems good enough to move from behind the plate if necessary. It is early, but Evans may have passed Cam Gallagher as the club's top catching prospect. It will be exciting to see what Evans can produce in a full season in 2014.

Total Points: 52

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