Nicholas Northcut: Red Sox Prospects
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the Boston Red Sox have a young, promising third base prospect climbing the ranks. While he’s currently fourth behind Michael Chavis, Bobby Dalbec, Triston Casas, and Danny Diaz, 19-year old Nicholas Northcut is still a high-upside prospect with a bright future ahead of him.
Red Sox Prospects: Nicholas Northcut
Nicholas Northcut first joined the Red Sox as an 11th-round pick, but don’t let the late-round selection fool you. Northcut was one of the most coveted players entering the 2018 draft, but had already committed to Vanderbilt University. Had he not committed, Northcut probably would have been taken in the first three rounds.
On paper, Northcut projects as one of the better all-around hitters from his draft class. Only 19 years old, Northcut showed the ability to hit for power and make consistent contact against high school level competition. Most impressive was his willingness to use all three portions of the field. While his best power was to his pull side, his ability to spread the ball around reduces worries about defensive shifts taking him away offensively.
Northcut doesn’t have the best speed in the world, but he has other intangibles you’d like from a third baseman. He has soft hands and is capable of handling any ball hit his way. Additionally, he has a strong arm capable of making all the throws you’d need to make from third base. Getting more range would be ideal, but he should be able to play at least average defense at the hot corner at every level.
What To Work On
While he has the profile to make it as an MLB player, he still has a long way to go in his development. Northcut spent the majority of his 2018 playing rookie ball before joining the Lowell Spinners for the final six games of the season. Between the two levels, Northcut slashed just .223/.303/.319 with an 82 wRC+. His isolated power was just 0.096 and his BABIP was .315, implying that he wasn’t the victim of poor batted ball luck.
Struggling as a rookie is not uncommon for young prospects, especially for high schoolers. Northcut has never seen pitching this good in his life before, and it’s only natural for him to need time before figuring it out. If he’s still posting slash lines like this next year, we can start to worry. However, for now Northcut remains an interesting prospect with a promising hit tool.
The biggest thing he should work on, in terms of his approach, is his plate discipline. Northcut struck out on 29.3% of his at-bats during the 2018 season and walked just 8.5% of the time. While a high strikeout rate is somewhat understandable, the low walk rate is the biggest cause of concern. Bad pitches are bad pitches, regardless of level, and Northcut needs to be better at laying off bad offerings.
Nicholas Northcut is a promising player, but is still a long way away from being ready for the major leagues. Additionally, Northcut is currently blocked by fellow third base prospects Michael Chavis, Bobby Dalbec, and Danny Diaz. Adding to the road block is all the aforementioned players are blocked by Boston Red Sox current third baseman Rafael Devers.
Northcut is a long ways away, and obviously anything can happen in baseball, but it’s hard to see him beating this logjam at third base. His defensive ceiling is fairly low and he could be switched to first base or left field if his defense doesn’t continue to grow.
However, a move like that is a long ways away. What’s going on in the pros should have no effect on how the Red Sox choose to develop Northcut at this point in his career. Look for Northcut to spend the year with either the Greenville Drive or the Lowell Spinners while continuing to work on his plate approach and his overall defense. If he continues to develop at a standard rate, he should be fighting for a major league roster spot come 2022 or 2023.
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