The Philadelphia Phillies Top 10 Prospects countdown continues here at TBOH with the #5 player on our list.
The Phils held the 10th overall pick in the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft, and there was much speculation that they would try to pick up a player with big offensive potential.
It appears that they got their man with the player who now, eight months later, is already considered a top five prospect by our staff, in one of the most improved minor league systems in the game today.
That player is 18-year old outfielder Cornelius Randolph, taken last year out of Griffin High School in Georgia. The 5’11, 205 pounder is a lefty-hitting, righty-fielding, bat-first prospect who turned down a scholarship to Clemson in order to sign with the Phillies.
In his pre-Draft scouting report on Randolph, Paul Casella of MLB.com wrote up: “Randolph has the tools and approach to hit for power and average. He offers bat speed, strength and patience from the left side of the plate. He uses the entire field and has better pitch recognition than most high schoolers.”
During his first pro summer after signing, Randolph hit for a .302/.425/.442 slash line over 212 plate appearances with the Phillies rookie-level team in the Gulf Coast League. In those first 53 pro games, Randolph also walked as often as he struck out, drove in 24 runs, scored 34 runs, and rapped out 15 doubles.
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Randolph played left field in 41 of those games, and that is his likely position going forward, though he could also end up at first base down the road as the Phillies sort out their various position-playing options.
Tyler DiSalle was the most conservative of our staffers, but still had Randolph in his #7 slot. The trio of Alexis Girardo, Ryan Gerstel, and Ethan Witte all put him in their #6 slot. Girardo commented: “Love his bat. I think he can be a big piece of the puzzle in terms of taking the team back to glory. His short time in the minors impressed me last year.”
Gerstel clearly loves that offensive potential as well: “Despite being only 18, Randolph’s offensive potential can already be seen by major league scouts. He has better plate discipline than most players his age to go along with above average bat speed and strength. Put those all together and you have the makings of a potentially great major league hitter.“
Once again, I split the difference, putting Randolph in my own 5th spot, and all of the reasons that every one else is stating hold true. The Phillies appear to have picked a winner, the big bat that they were hoping to land. Now it’s just a question of fully developing that talent. Randolph is going to need at least two more minor league seasons, but he could work his way to AA Reading later this summer, certainly by 2017.
The most exuberant of our staffers were David Mosemann and Mike Azzalina, each ranking him #4, the latter putting forth this reasoning: “The man without a position. At least until the Phils picked him, Randolph had nowhere to play. His move to left field is difficult on him because it is a position for heavy bats. However, he has a feel to make contact. He is young and should still grow into his power. I think we could see Randolph hitting in the middle of the Phils’ order by 2019.“
It will be that very defensive development that Randolph will have to work on the most over the next couple of seasons. The Phillies need to find out if their electric bat can also effectively use a glove out in left field.
If he can’t, the bat is still going to play, and he could be the first baseman of the future. He may be anyway, as the Phils’ have a number of interesting outfield options developing, especially if Jorge Alfaro, who we put in our #6 slot of the TBOH Top 10 Phillies Prospects list, ends up moving to right field.
Four of the top six prospects on our list are position players. Randolph and Alfaro will join two more still to come in the top four. This is outstanding news for a Phillies lineup that has seriously deteriorated over the last few seasons. Two to three years from now, they could make up the core of a far more substantive offensive attack.