Premature Excitation: Toronto Blue Jays 3B Matt Dean
Third-baseman Matt Dean embodies the drafting strategy of Toronto Blue Jays‘ general manager Alex Anthopoulos. Taken in the 13th round of the 2011 MLB Draft, Dean was lured away from a commitment to the University of Texas by a $737K signing bonus from the Blue Jays. As general manager of the club, Anthopoulos has made a point of acquiring high upside players in the draft by signing them away from strong college commitments.
Matt Dean perfectly fits the model of a high upside young player. Dean is a prototypical third-base fit; he possesses exceptional power and a strong arm. He has great bat speed, which will be a huge asset for him, but the length of his swing and its natural uppercut may call for some tinkering. These flaws would presumably lead to exorbitant strikeout rates, which has been the case thus far this season.
Dean currently has a strikeout rate of 33.6%, which is, of course, far too high. In addition, he is walking in just 6% of his plate appearances, a figure far too low especially given his extreme proclivity for the strikeout.
As a draft pick out of high school, Matt Dean carries with him a good deal of risk. That risk has shown its ugly face at times this season. However, Dean also carries with him a great deal of potential. His power and bat speed make him a potential middle-of-the-order bat at some time down the road.
The upside has also been apparent this season, and his upside has never been more obvious than it has been over the past few weeks. Dean has hit .306/.324/.556 over his past 10 games with a double, a triple, and 2 home runs. Matt Dean is on quite the hot streak, and it appears that he has finally become acclimated to professional baseball.
Still, Dean has much work to do. He is hitting more ground balls and fly balls than is ideal. This has resulted in a lack of line drives, so although he has enormous power, it is clear that significant holes remain in his swing. All of his tools point to a player with enormous upside and enormous bust potential.
Of course, the Blue Jays will not rush Dean through their system, nor should they. With Brett Lawrie manning the hot corner for the foreseeable future, the Jays will be patient in developing Dean to ensure that he reaches his full potential. As a high risk player out of high school, there will likely be a great deal of tinkering necessary with Dean’s swing. The strikeouts need to come down and his fielding needs to improve – Dean has made 16 errors already this season – but there is no question that Matt Dean is one of the higher upside prospects in the Blue Jays‘ organization.
Premature Excitation is a new column/project that I have decided to embark on in which I will attempt to get Blue Jays nation, and prospect followers everywhere, excited about young prospects far before we have any concrete idea of how successful they will be as they move through the system. It will be all the more rewarding when the prospects covered here achieve success at higher levels and, eventually, reach the major leagues. I hope that you enjoy following their journey as much as I do.