Luke Waddell was a fairly intriguing pick as a fifth year senior out of Georgia Tech, but not enough for many to consider him a gem in the 2021 draft. His professional debut went as well as it could and now has him on the fast track to the upper levels.
Midseason Report Card: Luke Waddell was not in the Top 30 for Talking Chop’s midseason list and its possible he will not be in the preseason list. He does have a shot at the back end or as an honorable mention.
2021 stats at High-A and Double-A: 29 games, .260/.324/.450, 6 HR, 2 SB,15 RBI, 106 wRC+
What we saw in 2021: For a player with Waddell’s profile it is very difficult for him to do anything that surprises you. He’s a solid utility glove with some contact skill who had a solid college career at a major college program. That is nothing to sneer at, but it’s certainly not the most exciting player. Waddell managed to surprise everyone when he went to High-A Rome and hit six home runs in a single week to earn Minor League Player of the Week for all of minor league baseball. This is a player who in his entire college career had 12 home runs in 172 games and he managed to hit six home runs in a six game span in professional baseball. That is incredibly impressive, but unfortunately he wasn’t all that good at any other time. In his other 23 games he only had one extra base hit and struggled to make consistent contact. It’s hard to judge a guy on a debut half season, but it wasn’t the best performance overall and he only had a 7 wRC+ in Double-A. The one thing he did do was consistently make contact, and when he carried that over into the Arizona Fall League he really started to come alive. Waddell struggled early in Peoria, but was one of the lineup’s best hitters down the stretch and finished with a .394 on base percentage and more walks than strikeouts. The 22 year old is an advanced bat who can play all over the infield albeit without being above average at any position, so if he can continue to hit this way he will play himself into some role at the major league level.
Future Outlook: Waddell is never going to be a guy that gets into the Top 20 for this system simply because his power limits his profile too much. This does not mean he is not a legitimately good player who can carve out a long career at the major league level. If he hits in Double-A and/or Triple-A next season like he did in Arizona he will get a long look as a guy who can come off of the bench in a utility role. Versatility and on base skill is valued at the major league level, so while Waddell lacks impact potential he certainly will get some sort of shot if he continues on his current path.