Name: Leonardo Molina
DOB: July 31, 1997
Batting and Power. He's been around for two years now and it's easy to forget that he is still just 18 years old, and will be for most of the 2016 season too. So while the numbers haven't been great to date the fact is he has advanced plate patience and pitch recognition to go along with plus bat speed, giving him the necessary foundation in place to one day become a high-average hitter. While the approach is top notch and clearly among the best of his peers, what works against him is his longer swing. Still growing, he has been working hard to sync his longer limbs and consistently stay short to the ball. He has shown in spurts a real ability to stay short and compact with his swing, and the hope is he'll make that a concentrated effort going forward. He has long-term above average power potential but he's at his best when he's hitting line drives all over the field rather than trying to muscle up and use his special bat speed in an attempt to hit home runs to the pull-side.
Base Running and Speed. Molina's longer limbs come into effect in the running game too. Not really possessing that lightning-quick first burst jump, he's the kind of runner who accelerates once he's in motion and that gives him the ability to be one of the better station to station runners. He's an above average runner overall, one who has the potential to be a 20-plus stolen base threat once he improves his on-base abilities and learns how to read pitchers' moves better, but his far greater impact in the running game is taking the extra base than swiping them.
Defense. Possessing great athleticism, Molina, a centerfielder right now, has an advanced feel defensively at a young age. However, at noted above, he doesn't have the greatest first burst steps around so his jumps on balls do pale in comparison to some of the elite centerfielders. And considering he isn't quite done growing yet either, it is certainly within the realm of possibility that he will eventually physically out-grow the centerfield position. But with plus arm strength and excellent makeup speed, he has the tools to be one of the better defensive corner outfielders as a fall-back option. He has true impact defensive potential, the only question is which outfield spot does he eventually wind up anchoring.
Projection. With plus bat speed, above average long-term power potential and speed, advanced patience and pitch recognition, and above average or better defensive abilities, Molina has all of the physical tools in place to perhaps one day be a true impact player on both sides of the ball. What ties it all together, however, and what makes him stand out at a young age, is his high level makeup. He is mature beyond his years and brings a ton of intangibles to the table. He still has to work on making his swing consistently shorter and he needs to grow into his body more to maximize his true potential, and it remains to be seen if he can stick in centerfield or if he fall more into the lines of a young Vernon Wells or Alex Rios type as somebody who profiles better in the corner outfield spots once he's done growing, but its' hard to ignore his potential as a potential big league starting outfielder, one who could potentially hit in the heart of a big league order someday. He's just so young that it may take some time for that potential to be realized so patience is required in the early years.
ETA. N/A. Molina, whose age equates to that of a rising high school senior and yet is set to begin his third professional season, showed some of his potential in his second Gulf Coast League last season and he's still so young that there's no need to rush him. He seems primed to get his first exposure playing under the lights in short-season Pulaski in 2016 where he will most assuredly still be one of the youngest players in the Appalachian League.