When MLB Network’s Matt Vasgersian stepped to the podium in Studio 42 and announced that the White Sox had selected Wabash Valley Community College right-handed pitcher Adisyn Coffey, the in-studio crew suddenly seemed at a loss for words.
White Sox fans felt the same way. Within minutes of the selection, I received two text messages that were just a single character in length… “?”.
I didn’t have an answer. Coffey was nowhere to be found on the draft prospect lists of any major publication. So for the past few days, I’ve been reading up on the White Sox’s 2020 third-round selection, and I got some help from his Wabash Valley CC head coach, Rob Fournier this weekend.
I’ve come up with two possible explanations here, and both can be equally true to some degree. First, there is the immediate reaction from many that Coffey was a player that the White Sox hope to sign at an under-slot deal. After all, the selection of Refugio prep-star Jared Kelley in the previous round is likely going to cost them nearly double their round-two slot value.
James Fox of Future Sox reported on Thursday that there was in fact a pre-draft deal that will have Kelley bypassing his commitment to the University of Texas. Which makes sense because burning a second-round selection in a pandemic shortened five-round draft would be a tough pill to swallow, and likely not something that the front office would risk gambling on.
But after speaking with Coach Fournier this weekend, it might just be a case of a player that the White Sox have scouted in great detail and fell in love with. It could be both. Two birds with one stone, right?
Adisyn Coffey was anything but under the radar back in 2017 when he was wrapping up his high school career at Delta High School in Muncie, Indiana. Coffey was the No. 6 prospect in the state of Indiana, ranked in the top 350 prospects nationally by Perfect Game, and secured a scholarship to Arizona State in a year when the Sun Devils netted the fourth-best recruiting class in the nation according to Baseball America.
At Arizona State Coffey played in just eight games as a freshman, stealing one base and scoring one run. He made two appearances on the mound, allowing four hits and three earned runs with two strikeouts in three innings pitched. Then came a transfer to San Jacinto Junior College (CA) — where his playing time was limited as well — and eventually to Wabash Valley CC in Mount Carmel, Illinois.
Coach Fournier shared some insight into Coffey’s path to his program at Wabash Valley, a JUCO powerhouse that has seen 31 players drafted into professional baseball, and another 115 move onto four-year schools since the year 2000.
“Coming out of high school I think that he probably wasn’t mature enough and ready, and I think that he was still probably trying to find out if he was a better position player or pitcher,” Fournier said regarding the quick transfer from Arizona State. “Because the toolset is special from both sides and I think that probably had a lot to do with it.”
“He probably had to do some things in the classroom to clean up where he was at, and I think in Addy’s case he was ready to turn the page and really grow up. When he was at our place he did a really good job academically to clean that up and I thought he really became a hungry ballplayer.”
“It’s an interesting path, but it’s no different than a lot of kids,” Fournier said. “They’re just not ready for Division I sometimes, and especially a place like Arizona State you know? That’s a really elite program, and you really have to be in a great state of mind. But it worked out for the best for him, and we couldn’t be happier for him.
Coffey is currently committed to Louisville, where he was expected to work out of the bullpen and play some outfield.
It’s more than likely that the White Sox amateur scouting department and amateur scouting director Mike Shirley have been keeping tabs on Coffey for as far back as his high school days. Shirley is a native of Anderson, Indiana, which is just about a half-hour from Coffey’s hometown of Muncie.
“Yeah, I’m sure that has some teeth to it,” Fournier said. “I think he [Shirley] was very familiar with him as a player and as a person. The whole nine yards. I think that he really dug in and saw a talented, elite athlete.”
White Sox scouts also have a history with him, as he played on their Area Codes Game team in 2016.
“I think the White Sox did a great job of scouting him [Coffey] in general. There were a lot of guys that didn’t get in to see him, and I bet they’re wishing they did.”
Coffey was announced on draft day as a right-handed pitcher, but he has been a two-way player since his high school days, and White Sox amateur scouting director Mike Shirley expressed that the organization has some interest in letting Coffey continuing to do both.
“He’s been a guy who could play shortstop, third base, center field,” Shirley said. “We’ve seen him do multiple things on the field. You think about a right-handed pitcher who plays shortstop, third base and center field, it tells you what kind of athlete we are talking about.”
Coach Fournier is a believer in Coffey’s ability to develop at the next level, no matter what position the organization ultimately decides on for him.
“He is an elite athlete,” Fournier said. “A legit 6.4-6.5 runner with really good instincts, power in the bat the needed to be tamed a little, and I think there’s more to work on but he’s got some power potential. He can play multiple positions, the arm plays across the diamond in the infield and the outfield. He’s just a special, special talent.”
On the mound, Coffey’s athleticism stands out and his fastball is anywhere from 93-96 mph while also mixing in a slider. “He’s got a feel for the slider, and it’s fresh,” Fournier said. “I can see him being a pitcher, he’s very, very special on the mound. I can also see him playing a position with his athleticism. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens.”
If there were any concerns about potential maturity issues at the beginning of his collegiate career, Coach Fournier painted a picture of a young man that’s taking full advantage of the current chapter in his career. Fournier said that while Coffey has been a part of his program he has done well in the classroom, stepped up as a leader, and helped mentor the freshman this past fall.
Fournier also highlighted Coffey’s dedication to building and taking care of his body, calling him “flat-out obsessed with the gym.”
“He’s just very disciplined, and that can take a kid a long way these days,” Fournier said. “There’s a lot to love about him, and I can see exactly what Mike Shirley saw in him, so a job well done on their part from a scouting standpoint.”
“He’s hungry, he’s ultra-talented, has a fresh arm, and I think that he has a tremendous ceiling. I think we thought that he was definitely capable of being taken in the five rounds, but they [Shirley and his staff] knew him as well as anyone in the country, and they saw a tremendous talent just like we did. I’m just happy for everyone involved, and glad things turned out the way they did.”
Whatever the thought process was that ended up leading Shirley and company to take a chance on the high-ceiling Coffey, Coach Fournier believes that the one-time top-ranked Indiana prep prospect can put it all together at the next level.
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