Each year a player has an opportunity to move up draft boards thanks in part to a highly touted teammate drawing a significant number of eyes out to his games. One such player who may be fortunate this year is Duke center fielder Jimmy Herron who will share the outfield with likely 1st round pick Giffin Conine. An unusual combination of batting from the right side while throwing from his left, Herron was previously drafted last year in the 31st round by the New York Yankees as a draft-eligible sophomore but chose to head back to Duke for his junior year. With that decision to forgo pro baseball for another year came a return to the Cape Cod Summer League and a chance to continue to build up his draft stock.
In the Cape Cod League, all Herron did was continue to show off the same hitting results that he’s shown in his first two years at Duke, hitting .338/.443/.481 with 10 doubles and four home runs in 42 games while also winning All-Star game MVP. Four home runs don’t seem like a lot in 154 at-bats but it shows that the speedy Herron is more than just a singles hitter and can do damage with a wood bat. The top tools for him definitely lie in the above average hit tool which has led him to hit .324 as a freshman and .326 as a sophomore before his Cape Cod season. A well-balanced swing, Herron shows the ability to go with the pitch to right field or turn and drive the ball to left.
A compact and quick swing fits his gap to gap approach while his speed in the low 4s to sub 4 times down the first base line helps him earn additional infield hits. That speed has also helped him earn 54 stolen bases in 69 attempts between his time at Duke and his summer league competition. That speed is a plus tool and should translate into the pro game while giving him an opportunity to play center field and make an impact on the game defensively. With three tools near 60 grade or better, one may wonder why Herron it isn’t higher on draft boards. Aside from that somewhat lagging power mentioned earlier is a questionable arm that gives the idea that he may have to play left instead of center, but that speed and what he showed in the Cape seemed to have dispelled that notion.
As far as Herron would fit into a Royals profile as a former two-sport athlete high school, he fits the bill there and what team couldn’t use a table setter who can play center? With multiple early picks, Lonnie Goldberg and crew could take Herron in the 2nd round with their 58th pick or slightly earlier should he push his draft stock up with another good season at Duke and the exposure of playing next to Conine. Whatever the pick, a player with his athleticism and hitting tool would be a good investment for any team let alone one rebuilding a farm system.