7th Round, 2010
Prior to the 2010 college season, many analysts viewed Keyes as a potential first round pick, in part because of his size and power potential. While he didn't have a bad season in his junior season at Texas (.311/.384/.550), many scouts thought that his potential had tapered out and he had too many holes in his swing to make it to the major league level. So he fell to the Nationals in the 7th round of the 2010 draft. Many Texas fans will remember that it was Keyes that scored the only run off of Matt Purke in the 2010 NCAA Super Regional, a solo shot in the 7th inning.
After struggling in his first season at Vermont (.175/.321/.278) in 39 games, he showed some promise last season despite starting the year slow and later suffering an injury, costing him part of the season. Batting mostly 5th or 6th in the Suns lineup last year, he posted an OPS of .846, hitting 22 2B and 17 HR in just 85 games. Having seen him play a few times, he is certainly an imposing figure and its easy to see where his power comes from, but the 80 strikeouts showed that he is still has adjustments to make in order to ever have a chance to climb further up the ladder.
This year he has started on Potomacs roster in an outfield that includes Michael Taylor and Randolph Oduber, but has struggled early much like last year. In 14 games, he only 6 hits (3 for extra bases) and has struck out a whopping 18 times, compared to 5 walks.The Good:
The conversation about Keyes starts and, mostly, ends with power. The guy is going to hit in the 20-25 range for home runs and has the potential to possibly hit more with an improved eye and a better approach to breaking pitches. Also hits lots of balls towards the gaps which will result in a good amount of doubles each year. But his biggest asset is his strength, an obvious observation after seeing him hit a few balls.The Bad:
Has trouble hitting breaking stuff, strikes out too much, and is going to struggle to hit for a decent average, likely resulting in a .250-.260 batting average. While he struggles with curves and sliders, the changeup has given him the most problems in his young milb career. While he isn't as slow as you would expect for a guy his size, many scouts believe that he will eventually end up as a first basemen down the line.
This is from BA's 2012 prospect handbook:
No. 30, Kevin Keyes, OF
Key 2011 stats: At Hagerstown, .263, 22 2B, 1 3B, 17 HR, 65 RBI, 6 SB, .336 OBP, .510 SLG
Breakdown: Keyes was a seventh-round pick out of Texas in 2010. He hit 15 home runs at the Longhorns’ home field, which isn’t terribly conducive to power. The Nationals signed him for $125,000 and sent him to short-season Vermont, where he came in overweight with a long swing and a big leg kick the franchise didn’t like. After staying in extended spring training last year working out the kinks, a slimmer Keyes showed flashes of his above-average power potential. He’s hitting cleanup for Potomac this season. His power is his best tool, and it will have to continue to improve if he wants to make it to the bigs.