Possibly the Rays’ most interesting pick in the entire 2012 MLB Draft was 12th round selection Taylor Hawkins, a 6’0″, 200 catcher out of Carl Albert High School in Oklahoma. He was going to be a tough sign, being committed to the University of Oklahoma, and as a 12th round pick, any bonus money Hawkins received over $100,000 would count against the Rays’ bonus pool they had to sign their picks in the top 10 rounds of the draft. But the Rays didn’t care. They saw Hawkins’ ability and they were not going to let him get away. The Rays finally got Hawkins signed pending a physical on Thursday.
Hawkins has insane power for a high school catcher, slamming 28 in 2012 alone and coming up one short of the all-time record for a US high school athlete with 74 career home runs. And it was no fluke. Hawkins possesses tremendous strength to go along with good bat speed and outstanding lift in his swing, and he has the ability to hit the ball a very long way. Especially at the catcher position, you don’t see that very often. Hawkins needs continued work at the plate in terms of his plate discipline and ability to make consistent power, but the Rays chose to take his power and run with it. Defensively, Hawkins is a good athlete behind the plate with above-average arm strength, although he needs to improve the fluidity of actions and his receiving ability.
Hawkins shows outstanding all-around ability but has several parts of his game that will require serious effort to get to where they need to be. But the Rays see his upside and are hoping that with time, he can put it all together. Hawkins will start his pro career at Advanced Rookie Princeton and it will be fun to see what he can do as he takes his first swings in pro ball.