SARASOTA, FL- He came into the spring as perhaps the most anticipated speed player in the draft. But Levon Washington was unable to play center field until last Monday due to a shoulder operation from the end of 2008.
Those of us who missed the Buchholz High School star on Monday had to wait a little longer on Tuesday (April 7th). A reported “missed curfew” led to a one-inning suspension. Washington didn’t take his outfield pregame wouldn’t enter until the second inning.
Once he got in, he came to the plate three times, going 1-3 with a hard opposite field single to left field. The lefthanded hitting Washington showed a quick stroke that was short to the ball. At a wiry 5-11, 170 (listed 5-10), Washington has athletic proportions and though he’ll never be a thick-build guy, I can see him a healthy 185 lbs in the future. At that point, he’ll have plus major league bat-speed and average line-drive power.
Washington stunned the scouts at the 2008 Perfect Game National, running a laser-timed 6.21 60 yard-dash at the Metrodome. He has a graceful stride and it’s fun to watch him run. In two groundouts, I timed Washington pulling up at 4.21 and 4.15 (MLB average for LHH is 4.2 running it out). When he hit his single in his third at-bat, Washington rounded the bag in 4.62 seconds, also slowing down.
He did okay (for a high school player) to wait on breaking balls and not get out on his front foot, though one of his weak groundouts were on a curve.
Defensively, Washington really struggled. He caught two routine fly balls early, then badly misjudged two more that dropped in front of him in the sixth inning, while Buchholz was trying to keep the game close against Taravella High School in an eventual 6-3 loss. In both instances, Washington went back only to realize the ball was in front of him. His speed almost allowed him to catch up, but not quite.
Our scouts clocked him at 92 MPH from the outfield last summer at the PG National and graded his arm-strength well. Washington did little more than lob the ball to the cutoff on Tuesday, which is a clear sign that he’s still not close to being healed.
Washington has signed with the University of Florida. In our last poll, we ranked him #67 for the draft which would put him towards the end of the second round. Speed is a precious commodity and speed plus “lefthanded bat-speed” often goes high. It’ll remain to be seen if concerns about Washington’s defense and arm counteract the exciting upside. If he does end up at Florida, he’ll surely be scouted as a Gator.