Image credit: Braden Holcomb (Photo by Eddie Kelly / ProLook Photos)
Braden Holcomb is one of the best overall athletes from the class of 2023 to make it to a college campus. In addition to starring on the diamond, Holcomb racked up nearly 400 total yards on the gridiron and averaged 9.7 points per game on the basketball court. He was a five-year star on the Foundation Academy (Winter Garden, Fla.) baseball team, a career that was capped off with an exceptional senior season in which he hit .493 with 24 RBIs and a career-high 11 home runs. There was tons of draft chatter surrounding Holcomb, but his commitment to Vanderbilt never wavered and he withdrew his name from the draft on July 10.
At 6-foot-4 and 230-pounds, Holcomb would not look out of place physically on a big league club. He is all muscle with plenty of upper body strength and tree trunk–like legs. Holcomb stands nearly upright in the box with his knees slightly bent and an average handset. He uses a slight barrel tip as a timing mechanism before his barrel explodes through the zone. Holcomb has plus bat speed and consistently generates leverage in his swing.
He has plus raw power and his natural strength allows what would be fly balls for most to turn into extra-base hits over outfielders’ heads. Holcomb, at times, has been susceptible to expanding the strike zone and swing-and-miss, but his pure hit tool figures to add polish with continued reps.
Holcomb played shortstop for the vast majority of his high school career, where his athleticism and instincts enabled him to cover ground in either direction. He flashed a plus arm and was comfortable throwing from different arm slots. Long term, Holcomb likely profiles best at third base given his body type and arm strength.
Where He Could Fit
Holcomb this fall has shown well offensively in the team’s scrimmages and continues to get acclimated with the hot corner. Looking at where he could fit this spring, Vanderbilt returns the ever-dynamic middle infield duo of Jonathan Vastine (.287/.355/.448) and Davis Diaz (.263/.376/.415). Both had all-star summers in the prestigious Cape Cod League and are high-profile 2024 draft prospects. Vastine almost certainly will be the everyday shortstop, and while it makes sense for Diaz to play second base, Coach Tim Corbin could opt to play Diaz at third and sophomore RJ Austin (.257/.351/.390) at second.
Even though the Commodores are rather crowded on the dirt, Holcomb’s talent and toolset are undeniable. Regardless of how much playing time he gets in his rookie campaign, Holcomb is already signed to play this summer for the Bourne Braves in the Cape Cod League. Should Holcomb’s hit tool take a step forward and he carves out a productive three-year college career, he has top-two round upside when he is next draft eligible in 2026.