Name: Skye Bolt
Height/Weight: 6’3’’, 190
How Acquired: Selected in the 4th round of the 2015 MLB Draft.
There are few players within the Oakland A’s organization with more physical talent than Skye Bolt. The biggest question for the switch-hitting centerfielder moving forward will be whether he can stay healthy enough to realize that talent on the field.
http://www.scout.com/mlb/athletics/story/470233-oakland-a-s-top-50-prosp... Bolt is the kind of player scouts dream on. The Georgia native is a well-built 6’3’’, 190-pound switch-hitting outfielder with above-average speed, power potential and a plus throwing arm. On the tools part of the write-up, Bolt checks a lot of boxes.
A 26th-round pick of the Washington Nationals in 2012 coming out of high school, Bolt elected to go to college and play for one of the top programs in the country, North Carolina. He instantly made his presence felt in Chapel Hill with a standout freshman campaign that saw him post a 909 OPS with six homers and 10 stolen bases in 54 games. Scouts were already pegging Bolt as a potential top-10 pick in 2015 based on his freshman year performance.
Unfortunately for Bolt, an injury cut into his freshman season. Returning for his sophomore year, he didn’t find the same results on the field. His average dropped from .321 to .257 and his power numbers also suffered, with his slugging percentage falling from .491 to .353. Bolt recovered his junior (draft) season to post an 832 OPS and a .449 SLG. However, he hit only .259 and missed games with injury. Still, the A’s were happy to grab Bolt with a fourth round pick in the 2015 draft.
Skye Bolt Stats
One of the reasons the A’s were intrigued by Bolt despite his sophomore and junior struggles was his ability to get on base. He left UNC with more walks than strike-outs and never posted an OBP lower than .373 in his three seasons there. The A’s felt that his approach at the plate gave him a stronger chance to realize his full potential.
“He has a combination of tools that, when we were able to acquire him in the fourth round, it was pretty exciting,” A’s Assistant General Manager Billy Owens said in April 2016. “He has a diverse skill-set.”
Bolt joined the Vermont Lake Monsters’ roster shortly after signing and he put together a decent pro debut season. He missed some time with minor injuries and hit a lull midway through his New York-Penn League season, but Bolt’s overall line of .238/.325/.381 was better than league-average in OBP and SLG. He finished the 2015 season with a torrid final week and looked primed for a big year in 2016.
Things started off well for Bolt with the Low-A Beloit Snappers in 2016. He hit .304/.395/.435 with a 12:9 K:BB and three stolen bases in three chances. Then the injury bug bit again. Bolt strained a hamstring during the first week of May. He missed a few games but didn’t land on the DL. He played through the injury for the next four weeks, but he struggled badly. Bolt hit only .141/.222/.203 in May and was finally placed on the DL on June 3rd. Bolt’s DL stay lasted three weeks and he returned in late June. Over the next five weeks, Bolt would hit well and, as late as August 2, he was hitting .250/.338/.357. Bolt then slumped over the final month of the season and he finished the year with a .231/.318/.345 line.
After the season, Bolt participated in the A’s fall Instructional League, where he spent much of the camp working on his hand placement at the plate, especially from the left-side. Figuring out where his hands should be from the left side is something that Bolt has struggled with since coming to the A’s. He hit better as a right-handed hitter (685 OPS) than he did as a lefty (658 OPS) in 2016.
A’s Triple-A hitting coach Eric Martins worked closely with Bolt on his hand placement this fall and felt the Georgia native was making significant progress by the end of the camp.
“He has all of the tools in the world. It’s just a matter of him being able to put it all together,” Martins said. “I think the last couple of weeks he made some big strides trying to figure out where he wanted to have his hands in a position where he would feel comfortable. I think he really liked it and he had some really good at-bats the last couple of weeks. Skye is a freak. Great athlete. He can run. Strong arm. It’s just a matter of putting things together.
“I think Skye felt really good from the right side. It was a matter of finding a consistent spot for his hands on the left side, and I think he found it. He is in a place where he can have a little bit smoother load and transfer to get the bat-head out. That was a big thing for him.”
Bolt doesn’t have a lot of moving parts to his swing from either side of the plate. He gets his foot down quickly into hitting position and is able to give himself extra time to see the pitch before committing to swinging. When his hands are in good position, he is able to get the barrel out quickly and his strength provides the power. When he struggled this season, however, his hands were often too high, which meant his bat was late in getting to the ball. As a switch-hitter, it can often be difficult to get into a good rhythm from both sides of the plate, especially when a player is missing time with injury. However, with more healthy repetitions, Bolt could be the player he was in April with the Snappers.
Defensively, Bolt has excellent range and instincts in center and has a chance to be a plus defender at that spot. He also has the arm for right field should he need to move down-the-road. He is a solid base-runner who should challenge the 20 stolen base plateau if his legs are healthy.
If Bolt can find that set-up that works for him at the plate and remain healthy for an entire season, he could be inline for a big 2017, especially if he suits up in the hitter-friendly California League.