San Bernardino, California —— Entering play on Saturday night, Oakland Athletics outfield prospect Skye Bolt is slashing .250/.349/.465/.814 for the High-A California League‘s Stockton Ports, with 16 doubles, five triples, ten home runs, and 38 walks against 70 strikeouts over 260 at-bats. I observed the 23-year-old University of North Carolina product several times in the last few weeks; below is Baseball Census‘ full Skye Bolt scouting report, including game video.
Skye Bolt Scouting Report — Video
Our video look at Oakland Athletics outfield prospect Skye Bolt comes from a July 5 game on the road against the Inland Empire 66ers, where he batted five times and collected a hit, a walk, a strikeout, and two runs scored:
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Skye Bolt Scouting Report — Notes
A long, lanky switch-hitter, Skye Bolt looks far better from the left side of the plate than he does the right. His bat speed is better, he can more consistently find the barrel, and he doesn’t have to do as much to access gap-to-gap line drive power—not to mention he’s quicker out of the batter’s box and can use his above-average speed more effectively. He’s seen a jump in power production this year compared to his last two, and while that may be partially due to the California League’s friendly hitting confines, Bolt is growing into his frame and has some easy, wiry power that can produce over-the-fence pop, especially as a left-handed hitter. His pitch recognition struggles have continued on into High-A, though, and he produces more than his fair share of weak contact right now, too. That’ll limit his ability to hit for average and if he can’t get on base enough by walking due to his inability to always read pitches, it may be a tough road forward in the upper minors for the former Tar Heel.
The Oakland Athletics have themselves a rangy center fielder in Skye Bolt, though. The 23-year-old can cover quite a bit of ground out in center, and there’s no question that range will play at the highest level. He adds to it by getting great reads on the ball off the bat, and he has above-average arm strength in center field, too. If he’s ever moved off center for whatever reason, he has enough arm strength to play either corner position, and that defensive flexibility could yet help him find a home in the higher levels. He’s a very good overall athlete with some projection still left in his frame, so a bit of added muscle in the coming few years should give him the natural strength to better handle various duties, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Skye Bolt Scouting Report — Projection
It’s been a tough road for Skye Bolt ever since reaching pro ball, and he’s never really hit for much of anything in three years now with the Oakland Athletics. Finally this summer, though, the power numbers are starting to come around and I think it’s not completely because of the mirage of the Cal League’s hitter’s ballparks. There’s some raw over-the-fence pop in Skye Bolt’s bat, especially from the left side, and that could be his ticket to success at higher levels if he can further develop and grow that tool to the point where it’s consistently above-average. He’d do well to scrap his switch-hitting ways and go exclusively from the left side, too; that may better allow him to take the time to get a handle on his swing and pitch recognition in one batter’s box without trying to split time to both sides in a futile bid for matchup immunity.
Long term, no matter how high the hopes Oakland may have had for Skye Bolt when he was drafted out of the University of North Carolina, I think his ceiling is that of a fourth outfielder who can platoon across all three positions as needed. He has the defensive chops to play center field every day in the big leagues, but barring a bizarre lineup arrangement, he’s not going to hit enough there to provide value in 150+ games at the position in The Show. That sneaky, developing power is the wild card, though; Bolt will go as far as his over-the-fence pop will take him, as he’s unlikely to ever hit for average considering he has yet to come close to doing so over his first 915 minor league plate appearances. But if he can produce above-average power numbers, even relative to potentially limited at-bats as a platoon outfielder coming off the big league bench, the Oakland Athletics may yet have something of value here that can still help them win.