When you think upside, you think a long, lanky guy who looks to add velocity or power as he fills out. That is not the case with the Rays’ third round pick Alvin Toles, who is just 5’8″, 180. But his small stature could belie a lot of his ability.
Toles, who was drafted out of Chipola Junior College, stands out for his speed. Toles has run a 6.4 in the 60 yard dash (think below a 4.3 in the 40) and has learned to take full advantage of his speed in every part of his game. His has excellent instincts on the basepaths and is a definite 40-plus steals threat. He also moves extremely well in centerfield, where he glides and takes good paths to the ball. And he also has learned that he doesn’t need to swing for the fences and can hit the ball on the ground knowing that he can beat out plays. But Toles has other tools as well. He has a compact line drive swing and doesn’t always need to hit the ball on the ground. He can hit line drives, and with his speed he can turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples. He has a little home run power as well. Toles needs work on plate discipline and hitting breaking balls, but his bat speed is fine and combining his bat speed with his conventional speed gives him a chance to be close to a .300 hitter someday. And the more he gets on base, the more his ability to steal bases will come into play. Toles’ upside is a .300 hitter with 60 steals, 10 homers, 25 doubles, 15 triples, and great defense in centerfield. The risk with him is his approach at the plate in terms of plate discipline and hitting breaking pitches. His game won’t come together if he doesn’t hit.
But there’s another factor as well. How did Toles end up at Chipola Junior College with his abilities? An attitude problem. Toles was a 4th round pick by the Marlins in 2010 but chose to attend the University of Tennessee. But Toles was dismissed from the team in early 2012 for ditching classes and team meetings, forcing him to go to Chipola, which did allow him to be eligible for the 2012 MLB Draft. Toles’ attitude amplifies his risk even more. However, once he got to Chipola, he worked hard to improve his game, especially at the plate, and the Rays definitely noticed that.
Toles has plenty of upside but comes with plenty of risk as well. But he slipped as far as he did because of his attitude and because he was dismissed from Tennessee, and the Rays ended up with a very good value in the third round. Alvin Toles had the ability to be a very good player someday. There is plenty of risk with him, but he has all the ability the Rays could ask for in the 3rd round.