Selected out of Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana in the third round of the 2016 draft, Kannapolis outfielder Alex Call has been nothing short of spectacular during his introduction to professional baseball. At Ball State, Call led the Cardinals in hitting during his freshman, sophomore, and junior seasons. He capped off his collegiate career by being chosen as the MAC conference Baseball Player of the year this past season. Additionally, he was an Academic All-American, earning his bachelor’s degree in three years while registering a 3.83 grade point average.
During his indoctrination to the professional ranks he has continued to hit at an amazing clip. In his first 250 plate appearances, he has raked his way to a .338 AVG and .436 OBP at two levels (Rookie League and Low-A). Although this is a small sample size, he has actually improved since his promotion and while the effects of the college season, the Carolina heat, and the pro schedule should be wearing him down, he has shown no signs of letting up. Having had the opportunity to observe Call on three separate occasions I have come away marveled by a different aspect of his game each time.
Listed at 6’0” 188 lbs Call is built like he came off of a baseball player assembly line. If you saw him in a crowd of 21 year olds wearing street clothes, you would be able to guess he was the ball player. The skill that has really stood out during the games I have witnessed is the hit tool. Batting from the right hand side he exhibits a quick swing through the zone with very little extraneous movement. During college, and so far as a pro, he has been a doubles machine displaying gap power. I suspect with maturity and a couple extra pounds of muscle he will reach a ceiling of around 15 homeruns a year. His eye and ability to work the count are exceptional for a player in Low-A ball. Last night against Lakewood he put together some very impressive at bats. Even though he hammered a 3-1 offering into the left field power alley for an RBI single in his second at bat, I was actually more impressed by his first trip to the box. During this at bat, Call managed to take a very tempting 2-2 curveball to work the count full, then he battled by hitting five straight foul balls before striking out on a foul tip on the tenth pitch. Call displayed a very keen eye all night, averaging 5.1 pitches per plate appearance. To put things in perspective, the major league average in this stat last season was 3.82 with Mike Trout tying for the lead with 4.37. His strike zone management has been very impressive thus far as he has walked nearly as many times (29) as he has struck out (34).
Defensively he can play all three outfield positions. With 55 grade speed, he can cover the ground necessary to man centerfield. With a 60 grade arm, he has the throwing ability to cover right field. When I observed him against Greensboro on July 20th, he made arguably the best catch I have ever witnessed. That night Call was playing left field when a ball was mashed down the line with hook spin. While running full speed toward the line and toward the wall he fully extended and laid out to make a diving, over the shoulder grab.
The White Sox scouts were said to be in love with Call due to his plus tools across the board, mental makeup, and strong work ethic. Many of the experts thought he was over drafted at #86 overall, but I find myself in lock-step agreement with the White Sox on this one. Call appears to be a very athletic, high floor, low risk prospect. He reminds me of a shorter version of former Twin Gary Ward. His future is very bright and I see him as a starting outfielder and top of the order hitter for the ChiSox for years to come. He is currently listed as the #20 prospect in the organization but I can see him rising like a bullet, and I look forward to watching him progress through the ranks.