He hits for average and he hits for power. He can play defense. There’s a spot for Brock (in pro baseball). —BYU baseball coach Mike Littlewood, on Brock Hale
PROVO — With the Major League Baseball draft approaching, BYU coach Mike Littlewood is counting on sophomore outfielder Brock Hale to get his name called.
“Realistically, I think we’ll lose Brock Hale. I think that’s a sure thing,” Littlewood said. “I think he’s ready. He’s ready mentally and he’s ready physically. If he gets the right deal, I think he’ll go. You just never know about the draft. The chatter we’re getting right now is mostly about Brock.”
Hale hit a team-high .395 this season with 14 doubles, 12 home runs and 48 RBIs. He also posted a slugging percentage of .672.
“Brock’s just a pure hitter. You could call him a four-tool player. He doesn’t run great but he runs better than average. He doesn’t have a great arm but he has a better than average arm,” Littlewood said. “He hits for average and he hits for power. He can play defense. There’s a spot for Brock (in pro baseball). You have to give him a chance. For us, he was tremendous.”
Hale’s numbers could have been even better had he not suffered a knee injury during the season that sidelined him for several games.
“He didn’t skip a beat when he came back,” Littlewood said. “We were a little nervous that it might take him a few weeks to get back into it, but he was ready to go. He would have had really, really special numbers if he wouldn’t have had to sit out for a few weeks. He did a great job.”
Hale probably helped his stock with his performance at the NCAA regionals.
“He hit really good pitching. That’s the gold standard for most scouts,” Littlewood said. “In (the West Coast Conference), there are some teams at the bottom that have pretty average pitching. Everybody should have good numbers against those guys. But he saw good pitching against Cal State Fullerton and at the top of our league. Brock’s hit them all. It has to help his draft stock.”
Other Cougars who could get drafted include senior catcher Bronson Larsen, who belted a team-high 16 homers, and junior pitcher Maverik Buffo, who posted a 7-7 record with an ERA of 6.01.
“I would love to see Bronson Larsen get a chance,” Littlewood said. “Maverik Buffo will get a chance at some point, either this year or next year. If he would have thrown the entire season like he did the last two weeks, he’d probably be a middle-round guy.”
One of Littlewood’s incoming recruits, pitcher Seth Corry, a Lone Peak High star, could also be picked. “We’ll have to see what the draft brings for him,” Littlewood said.
While it’s tough to lose top talent in the draft, Littlewood sees having players selected as a positive for the program.
“There’s a right time to sign and there’s wrong time to sign. For Brock, if he gets an opportunity I think it’s the right time for him to sign,” Littlewood said. “You have to look at it as a positive because players coming into the program can see guys playing for a few years and then moving on to the pros, and hopefully those are the aspirations of all the guys we bring in. They’re seeing guys meet their goals, play a few years and get a great degree here at BYU. If you look at the negatives, it will tear you down.”
2017 MLB draft
When: June 12-14 beginning Monday at 5 p.m. MDT
Where to watch: The MLB network