The 2021 MLB Draft will begin on July 11, 2021. We take a look at Ryan Higgins, a talented hitter whose draft stock might take a hit due to defensive concerns.
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Ryan Higgins, Third Baseman, Fresno State
Weight: 200 lbs.
2019: 27G, .320/.393/.460, 16 H, 9 RBI, 1 HR, 6 BB, 9 K
2020: 15G, .350/.400/.600, 21 H, 12 RBI, 2 HR, 4 BB, 14 K
2021: 45, .352/.453/.667, 58 H, 41 RBI, 11 HR, 29 BB, 38 K
Higgins shone as a hitter this past season, posting a .352 batting average with 11 homers, 29 walks, and 38 strikeouts. He’s also looked solid as a fielder and demonstrated a strong throwing arm.
Higgins’s best trait is his hitting, which was on display at a very high level in 2021. He looked more confident at the plate and produced a much smoother swing and approach. He has also shown signs of being able to both hit for contact and hit for power, which should bode well for him at the next level. Scouts have to be impressed with how he performed in his final season of college ball.
Higgins has also demonstrated a strong throwing arm, which means he should be able to stick at third base long-term. This, coupled with an above-average fielding ability, will serve as a major benefit when scouts review Higgins’s defensive profile ahead of the draft.
As talented as Higgins is offensively and in the field, he is a below-average runner, and this restricts him in terms of range. This doesn’t hurt him much compared to other third basemen because most players at the position have similar speed, but it’s still a factor in his draft stock.
Higgins also spent time at both third base and left field as a senior, so there might be some concern that he isn’t fully capable of patrolling the hot corner long-term. I think most teams will, in fact, view him as a third baseman, but the fact that he wasn’t solely a third baseman last season shows that a potential switch to left field is always possible. This, of course, would hurt his value.
Pro Comparison: J.D. Davis
This comparison is a layup, but I can’t unsee the similarities between Davis and Higgins. The former, who currently plays for the New York Mets, has been terrific offensively, logging a .390/.417/.610 slash line with two homers, 5.8 oWAR, and -0.8 dWAR through 14 games this year. Evidently, he possesses an impact bat but has been below-average in the field. Higgins fits this same description, and he shares a similar physique as Davis, too. The Fresno State product is just two inches shorter and 18 pounds lighter than the Mets’ 28-year-old.
Draft Projection: Fourth-Round Pick
Many teams are surely in awe of Higgins’ bat, and he’s certainly not awful in the field, either. His ability to hit the ball well and produce for both batting average and power is a rare trait among many prospects. Still, the uncertainty in the field could negatively play into where he is ultimately drafted. As such, it doesn’t seem like he’ll be drafted in the first three rounds. Instead, he’ll more likely go off the board between the fourth and sixth rounds.