Name: Skye Bolt
Height/Weight: 6’3’’, 190
How Acquired: Selected in the 4th round of the 2015 MLB Draft.
In terms of tools, there are few in the Oakland A’s system who can match outfielder Skye Bolt’s collection of five. The North Carolina alum took a step forward in his quest to translate those tools into production in 2017. Can he continue that improvement in 2018?
When the A’s selected Bolt in the fourth round of the 2015 MLB Draft, his selection earned more attention than most fourth round picks. As a three-year starter at a top collegiate program, Bolt had a relatively high-profile coming out of college. Scouts had always loved Bolt’s skills, but his numbers during his final two seasons at UNC never quite matched his talent level.
The A’s were happy to take a flier on Bolt in the fourth round. Bolt showed flashes of his potential during his pro debut season with Vermont, but he struggled through a ho-hum first full professional season with Low-A Beloit in 2016. After getting off to a fast start for the Snappers, Bolt hit only .231/.318/.345 while struggling with injuries.
In 2017, Bolt made the jump to High-A Stockton, and he put together a much more consistent season. Overall, he hit .243/.327/.435 for the Ports. Bolt connected on a career-high 15 home runs and maintained a solid 10.7% walk-rate. He was a mid-season Cal League All-Star. Bolt posted OPSs of 766 or higher in every month but one (July) and he had six hits (including two home runs) in 12 post-season at-bats for the Ports.
Defensively, Bolt played an above-average centerfield, chasing down balls in the gap and throwing out eight base-runners. Ports’ manager Rick Magnante was impressed with Bolt’s skills with the glove.
“He runs the ball down. He throws well and he throws accurately. He gets a good first step out there, so there’s nothing to say that this guy doesn’t stay in the center of the diamond,” Magnante said in July.
Injuries were once again an issue for Bolt, who appeared in only 114 games thanks to a variety of minor injuries and two illnesses. Bolt turns 24 before the start of the 2018 season, and 2018 figures to be a pivotal year for his career.
Magnante believes Bolt can be a special player if he is able to put it all together.
“I just call him the poor man’s Josh Reddick, except he offers the switch-hit,” Magnante said. “The first thing with Skye is tools. He has the tools. That puts him in a prospect category immediately. He also has the skill-set to play the game, so now it’s a matter of what kind of player can he become by utilizing the tools and the skill-set.”
Bolt had some significant power splits at the plate this year. Although his batting average and on-base percentage were virtually identical when batting right-handed and left-handed, Bolt hit for significantly more power as a left-hander. All 15 of his home runs came as a left-handed batter and his SLG was 133 points higher. Bolt is a natural right-handed batter, so one would expect the opposite splits. If he can find a way to tap into his power from his natural side, Bolt’s power numbers could jump considerably.
Bolt has a patient approach at the plate. He was used at or near the top of the line-up for much of the year because he saw a lot of pitches and drew his share of walks (53). Bolt’s strike-out numbers went up six points from his 2016, but he was able to maintain a slightly better walk rate. He hasn’t historically hit for high average – dating back to his days in college – but he’s the kind of hitter who can make a significant impact if he can hit around .260 because of his walk-rate and power.
Bolt has above-average speed. He didn’t use that speed to steal many bases in 2017 (he was only nine-of-17), but he was effective going first-to-third and second-to-home. As Bolt matures, his speed should become a bigger part of his game.
After a solid season with the Ports, Bolt is ready to make the jump to Double-A Midland. The Texas League has been a daunting challenge for many A’s position player prospects over the years. If he can improve on his 2017 numbers with Midland, Bolt could be in the conversation for a spot on the 40-man roster before the 2019 season.
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