Vermont Lake Monsters

Oakland A's 2016 top-50 prospects scouting report: Skye Bolt

Our Oakland A's 2016 top-50 prospects list is out. Now find out more about the players on that list. In this piece, a close look at top-50 prospect Skye Bolt. Bolt brings lots of tools to the table. Can he reach his ceiling?

Name: Skye Bolt       
Position: OF
Height/Weight: 6’3’’, 190
Bats/Throws: B/R
Age: 21
How Acquired: Selected in the 4th round of the 2015 draft

Fourth-round pick Skye Bolt was one of the most intriguing selections in the Oakland A’s 2015 draft class, and that wasn’t just because of his action hero name. While at North Carolina, Bolt displayed plus tools but was maddeningly inconsistent. Will the A’s player development staff get the most out of the talented centerfielder?

Bolt introduced himself as a prospect on a national scale during his freshman year at UNC. He hit .321/.418/.491 that season before a broken foot interrupted his breakout campaign. Despite missing time, Bolt earned consensus Freshman All-American honors. Many surmised that if Bolt had been draft eligible after that season, he would have gone in the top half of the first round.

Skye Bolt 2015 Stats

VER 181 .238 .325 .381 4 24 44

The next two seasons with the Tar Heels didn’t go as smoothly for the Georgia native. He hit .257 as a sophomore and .259 as a junior. Some of Bolt’s struggles were because of bad luck. His BABIP in each of his last two seasons in college was below .275. Bolt’s power waned considerably during his sophomore season, but his ISO was actually higher during his junior year (.190) than it was during his breakout freshman campaign. Throughout all of the ups and downs, Bolt maintained a strong K:BB, leaving school with a 98:110 K:BB.

The A’s were happy to get Bolt in the fourth round and they signed him soon after the draft. Shortly after the draft, A’s Director of Scouting Eric Kubota likened Bolt’s skillset to that of a former big league great.

“It’s not a perfect comparison, but a Jim Edmonds-type in centerfield with really good defense and power potential,” Kubota said. “Their bodies aren’t totally alike. Skye is more of a leaner, athletic looking guy and Edmonds is more of a stronger looking guy, but the ultimate profile, in a perfect world, that’s what we would look towards.”

The A’s assigned Bolt to short-season Vermont and he remained with the Lake Monsters for the entirety of his pro debut season. Bolt got off to a solid start with the Lake Monsters, collecting three extra-base hits over his first six games. However, he struggled with injuries and inconsistency over the next several weeks. During the final 17 games of the season, Bolt showed signs of matching his production to his talent. He hit .333/.455/.519 with five extra-base hits and more walks (12) than strike-outs (11). He finished the year with a .238/.325/.381 line.

Despite the ups-and-downs of his pro debut, Bolt impressed his Vermont manager Aaron Nieckula.

He’s an interesting dude, and I mean that in a good way,” Nieckula said. “This kid brings a tremendous amount of talent, skill and ability to the field. When you talk about tools, this guy is tooled out to the max. He can throw. He’s got a plus arm. He can run. He’s got speed. He has some power in his bat. He plays a good centerfield. When Skye Bolt is on and he is clicking on all cylinders, he is a special player to watch. Exciting.

“I could see him being another top-of-the-order guy with the way that he runs and his knack for stealing bases. He probably profiles for me as a centerfielder, but he has enough arm to play right. With his speed and the way he can track down balls, there’s no doubt in my mind he can be an everyday centerfielder in the big leagues. He’s just got to be able to put it all together.”

Bolt may never hit for high average as a pro, but he has an excellent feel for the strike-zone and should rack up a lot of walks. He has the power to reach double-digits in homeruns regularly and could be a perennial 20-homer hitter if he reaches his ceiling. Bolt runs well and has good instincts on the bases. As a player who sees a lot of pitches, Bolt is likely to strike-out a fair amount. Defensively, the A’s like what they see from Bolt in center.

I know he had had a little bit of a down-turn in his career [in college], but I think there is nothing but upside from what I have seen from him,” Oakland A’s Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman said. “He’s a very good defender and he understands the game. He has a real good awareness of the game and what he is trying to do.”

In some ways, Bolt has a similar profile to former A’s prospect Corey Brown. Brown’s development was hampered by injuries and injuries have dogged Bolt during his young career, as well. Brown’s ceiling was also limited by his swing-and-miss tendencies. Brown has not been able to establish himself as a big league regular thus far because he strikes out so much. Bolt doesn’t have nearly as much swing-and-miss to his game, although he needs to improve his pitch recognition, especially on breaking pitches. The A’s like Bolt’s overall approach at the plate and his selectivity. A switch-hitter, he struggled badly as a right-handed hitter during his pro debut (454 OPS in 37 at-bats), but it was a small sample size.

The A’s have been aggressive with some of their first year assignments lately, so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that Bolt spends much of the 2016 with the High-A Stockton Ports. He will be 22 in January.

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