As a junior at Louisiana State University, left-handed hitting and throwing, 21-year-old outfielder Andrew Stevenson put up an impressive .348/.396/.453 line in 2015, with 13 doubles, five triples, one home run and 26 steals in 33 attempts over 62 games.
Washington drafted Stevenson with their top pick, 58th overall, in the second round of this past June's Draft, with the Nationals noting in their press release on the selection that the LSU center fielder excelled defensively in college, and was twice named an SEC All-Defensive Team selection.
"This guy plays 100 mph with his hair on fire," Nats' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters, including MASN's Chris Johnson, after the pick:
"That was a big part of why we were so attracted to him. We've got him up to 70-80 on a 20 to 80 scale as far as speed goes. (He's) got the ability to steal bases. He's a terrific defensive center fielder. We think he's got the ability to be a leadoff type of guy in the future and a guy again that adds to our athleticism and speed part of the game."
Rizzo described Stevenson's approach at the plate as "unorthodox", though he said that it works for him. Assistant GM and VP of Scouting Kris Kline said that in spite of the unorthodox approach, Stevenson barreled it up.
"He does have the ability to center the baseball," Kline said, as quoted by CSN Mid-Atlantic's Chase Hughes:
"He’s got good hand-eye coordination. He’s actually had more success with that and that showed up in the Cape Cod League. He’s always just had a very good feel to hit."
Baseball America had Stevenson ranked 8th overall as the second-highest ranked outfield prospect in the organization on their latest list of the Nationals' Top 10 prospects in November, after he put up a combined .308/.363/.379 line with four doubles, four triples, one home run and 23 steals over 55 games with the Gulf Coast Nationals (2 games), Auburn Doubledays (18 games) and Hagerstown Suns (35 games).
MLB.com's scouts (who ranked Stevenson 13th overall on their list of the Nats' Top 30 prospects) described him as the "best defensive center fielder in college baseball in 2015," in their scouting report, writing that, "Stevenson has tremendous range thanks to his terrific reads and jumps and his well above-average speed," while also noting that, "Some scouts [grade] his fly-catching ability as a 70 on the 20-80 scale. He has a weak arm but that doesn't detract from his overall brilliance in center."
MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo listed Stevenson as one of the "slickest-fielding" prospects in the game on Monday, putting him on an "All-Defense Prospect Team" as one of the top three defensive outfield prospects in baseball:
Mayo wrote that, "... scouts raved about his defense in center field while he was at LSU and during his pro debut.":
"Some scouts put a 70 on the 20-80 scale for Stevenson's fielding. [Byron] Buxton is the only one on this list with a 70 fielding grade."
So, the Nationals' second-best outfield prospect, behind only 18-year-old Victor Robles on both Baseball America and MLB.com's lists, is one of the top defensive outfield prospects in baseball according to MLB.com's scouts?
Not bad for the 58th overall pick.