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► Reports and Scouting:
Role: Above Average Regular
Risk: High – As a left fielder, Randolph needs to have offensive impact. His lack of average power right now puts him behind on achieving that goal.
Summary: Cornelius Randolph can really hit. That is not a fact that has ever really been up for debate. All of the other parts of Randolph’s game are up for critique. A shortstop in high school, Randolph is a left fielder going forward. He still has not shown a good glove for the position, which has some evaluators feeling he may have to move to first base. Randolph has a good approach at the plate and should maintain a high on base percentage. The big problem for Randolph is his power production, or more clearly, his lack of power production. Home runs are up in the majors, raising the offensive bar and expectations across all positions. Randolph doesn’t hit for power in games or batting practice. His swing is geared towards high contact rates and spraying line drives around the field. Randolph is a compact player with good strength, but he is also fairly maxed out physically, so he won’t be adding much strength in the future. This means almost all Randolph’s future power will have to come from changes in his swing and approach. The other complicating factor is that Randolph missed 2 months in 2016 because of a nagging shoulder injury. He came back from the injury to post good contact and walk rates, but there is a chance the injury did sap some power. Randolph has the hitting foundation to still be a very good player if he can get his home run output into the 15-20 range. He has yet to take the first steps on that path. However, he was one of the youngest players in the 2015 draft and won’t turn 20 until June.
2017 Outlook: Staying in Lakewood won’t magically fix Randolph’s power, and right now that is the biggest weakness in his game. This means that Randolph will head to Clearwater to start the 2017 season.
Role: First Division Regular
Risk: High – Randolph has an advanced feel for contact at his age. However, all of his experience so far has been at the complex league level. While the move to left field has put him on a faster track to the majors, it has also added pressure on his bat to perform.
Summary: Randolph was not talked about as a top 10 pick in the draft until the week of the draft. The consensus when the Phillies drafted him though was that he was the best pure high school hitter in the draft. The big problem was that he was positionless. Randolph played shortstop in high school, but he wasn’t going to stick there. Third base seemed like an option, but his arm and reactions were not great in the infield. The Phillies immediately moved him to left field in an effort to eliminate this problem all together. The key for Randolph will be his bat. Randolph has a great left handed swing with plus bat speed and advanced feel for contact. In the Gulf Coast League, he was able to line the ball to all fields and showed power to the gaps. He needs to work on punishing pitches when they are in his power zone, and the Phillies are confident that he will grow into his power over the next few years. He has the chance for a plus or better hit tool and at least above average power. The most impressive aspect of Randolph’s pro debut was his approach, as he walked as much as he struck out. His contact abilities allow Randolph to work deep into counts without sacrificing his hitting position. It is hard to see him keeping up his debut rates, but he should maintain good walk and strikeout rates throughout his career. Randolph should be average in left field going forward. It took some time for Randolph’s arm to transition to the outfield, and it should play as average in the long term. On the bases, Randolph is a smart runner, but will likely have below average speed by the time he makes the majors. Moving to left field puts a lot of pressure on Randolph’s bat, but he has the hitting projection to still end up a first division regular. Despite the added pressure, the Phillies move of Randolph to left field allows him to progress at the speed of his bat, not his glove, so he could get to Philly quickly.
2016 Outlook: Randolph should open the year in Lakewood. Much like J.P. Crawford in his first year, Randolph could move to Clearwater by the middle of the season if he can repeat his 2015 season at the higher level.
What Happened: The Phillies took Randolph with the 10th overall pick in the draft, there was some light mockery from those that do draft lists, but the Phillies believed in his bat. They believed so much they moved him quickly down the defensive spectrum to left field so that he could move at the speed of his bat. So far the results have been great, Randolph has drawn rave reviews on his hit tool, and his defense in an outfield corner has been a pleasant surprise as well. He hasn’t hit for a ton of home run power but the Phillies think it will come with time.
What Next: It is hard to say whether Randolph will get a bump up a level as a minor ankle injury and a monsoon in Florida put a roadblock in the way of his momentum. Either way he needs to just keep doing what he is doing which is working pitchers, going the other way, and just being an excellent all around hitter.
Baseball America (Predraft):
Scouts became very familiar with Griffin (Ga.) High in 2008 when Tim Beckham was the first overall pick in the draft. Now, Randolph has them coming back to the Atlanta area school to see another likely first rounder. Unlike Beckham, Randolph will not stay at shortstop as a professional. But his natural hitting ability is such that questions about his future position haven’t done much to dissuade scouts. He is a disciplined hitter with an excellent feel for the strike zone. There is some swing-and-miss in his game, but when he’s at his best he stays balanced and drives the ball to all fields. He has the strength and bat speed necessary to hit for above-average power, giving him a chance to be one of the best all-around hitters in the draft class. While scouts are sure Randolph isn’t a shortstop, they aren’t quite sure where he’ll ultimately settle defensively. Some believe his hands and arm are good enough that he could become a capable third baseman if he works to improve his infield actions. Others see him as a future left fielder, where he’d be more able to concentrate on his hitting. No matter where the Clemson recruit ends up defensively, Randolph’s main attraction will always be his hitting ability.