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Pleskoff Scouting Report | Cornelius Randolph

TAMPA, FL - MAY 10: Cornelius Randolph of the Threshers at bat during the Florida State League game between the Charlotte Stone Crabs and the Clearwater Threshers on May 10, 2017, at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, FL. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)
(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)
  • TEAM: Philadelphia Phillies
  • AGE: 20
  • POSITION: OF
  • BATS: Left
  • THROWS: Right
  • HEIGHT: 5-foot-11
  • WEIGHT: 205 lbs.
  • ACQUIRED: The Philadelphia Phillies selected Randolph in the first round of the 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of Griffin High School in Griffin, Georgia. He was the 10th player chosen in the draft.

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STRENGTHS

Prior to the 2015 draft, many scouts viewed Cornelius Randolph as the best pure high school hitter available. As it turned out, the Colorado Rockies chose Brendan Rodgers of Lake Mary High School in Florida with the third pick. Then in the fifth round the Houston Astros selected Kyle Tucker out of H.B. Plant High School in Florida. Randolph was chosen with the No. 10 pick as the third high school player selected.

Still young and raw as a hitter and player, I got to scout Randolph in this year’s Arizona Fall League. He is playing as a member of the Phillies’ group on the Glendale Desert Dogs.

What I like about Randolph is his quiet approach at the plate. He doesn’t have much extraneous movement as he awaits the pitch. Very focused and using excellent eye-hand coordination, he has an above average “feel” for hitting. He isn’t hunting home runs. I didn’t even see that during batting practice. He seems content to put the ball in the gaps and get doubles and triples along with his singles. Once he matures and learns how to attack breaking balls, Randolph projects to be a solid table-setting hitter.

Randolph has a good eye at the plate. He knows the strike zone well and stays back long enough on pitches to drive the ball to the opposite field. He will get a very good share of bases on balls due to his patience and selectivity. Even though I saw him hit in the six position in the Glendale lineup, I see him more as a leadoff or two-hole hitter.

His arm strength is a tad above average and can be considered a good tool for him. However, he is best suited to play left field as opposed to center or right field.

In general, Randolph does not have one overwhelming tool. He’s a good player, but many of his tools are shared by most average to below-average professional players. Of course, it is still very early in his career.

WEAKNESSES

Since Randolph was a No. 1 pick for the Phillies, it isn’t out of the question to expect stardom or at least above-average production from him. At this early stage, however, it is tough to guarantee that will happen.

In his rookie 2015 season the Phillies played him on their Gulf Coast Rookie League team. He hit .302 in 212 plate appearances, giving the Phillies an early look at the hitter they felt they had drafted. He had 15 doubles, three triples and a home run. He drove in 24 and it was a good season.

A shoulder injury cost him a considerable amount of playing time in his second season. Playing most of the year healthy at Class-A Lakewood in the South Atlantic League, Randolph hit .271 in only 276 plate appearances. Ironically, his extra-base hit statistics were almost identical to his rookie year.

During the season just concluded, Randolph played at Class-A Advanced Clearwater in the Florida State League. He hit .250 in 510 plate appearances. The exciting part about his season was his plate discipline. He walked 55 times.

Defensively, Randolph will make the routine plays well. However, I don’t see him making sports highlight reels for his defense. If he is to be a factor for the Phillies, it will be due to his hit tool and batting average.

He does not run very well. Even though he has a chance to steal some bases, he doesn’t pose much of a threat to steal.

He may be behind in his development due to that barking shoulder in the past. These Fall League at-bats against quality pitching should help him catch up.

TAMPA, FL - MAY 30: Cornelius Randolph of the Threshers dives back into first base during the Florida State League game between the Florida Fire Frogs and the Clearwater Threshers on May 30, 2017, at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, FL. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)

TAMPA, FL – MAY 30: Cornelius Randolph of the Threshers dives back into first base during the Florida State League game between the Florida Fire Frogs and the Clearwater Threshers on May 30, 2017, at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, FL. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)

NARRATIVE

Randolph went to the same high school as major league shortstop Tim Beckham. Many people feel he has the same tools as Beckham, an infielder with quick hands and feet. Randolph, once a shortstop like Beckham, is now an outfielder. He is slower and not as good a defender. Both hit well.

Even though he throws right-handed, Randolph hits from the left side of the plate. That’s where his older brother hit and the younger Cornelius just wanted to follow his brother’s lead.

In his senior year at Griffin, Randolph hit .528 with four home runs and 18 RBIs in 17 games.

He has excellent baseball instincts and is an intelligent player. He uses his knowledge of the game to stay ahead of the pack.

Randolph had intended to attend Clemson University. Instead, he accepted the offer made by Philadelphia after the draft. He’s continuing his development as a professional baseball player.

Still young and possibly adding more depth and growth to his frame, Randolph could become more of a home run hitter. That possibility exists, but his team will likely be satisfied if he hits for average and gets on base.

There was some pressure on Randolph while he was in high school. Even though he was only 18, some people compared his hitting to the great Tony Gwynn. I fail to see how any young man his age can be compared to Gwynn as a player.

As long as he remains healthy the Phillies will be happy to allow Randolph to grow and develop in the next few years. He will be playing with some older players this fall — that can’t help but provide challenges and a great setting for his future.

THE FUTURE FOR RANDOLPH

It remains to be seen if Randolph can return first-round results. Anything is possible, but he hasn’t shown any overwhelming tools to assure the Phillies of the stardom that often comes with a lofty draft slot.

Randolph has to stay away from injury and grind out at-bats as he learns to hit quality pitching. The skills are in place. He has a very good eye at the plate. He is patient and smart as a hitter. He knows how to work the count and he can accept a walk.
He also has swing-and-miss in his game. Ultimately I believe he will square many of the balls he misses now.

Barely an average outfielder, Randolph is best suited to play left field. He’ll be fine there. His arm is sound. He isn’t the fastest outfielder, but he can play. Once a shortstop in high school, he does seem to be a good fit in left field.

The Phillies have great talent in their organization. Among the young outfielders are Mickey Moniak, Adam Haseley, Nick Williams, Dylan Cozens and Roman Quinn in addition to Randolph. That’s stiff competition on a team that wants to turn to younger and more athletic players for the future.

Randolph will have to produce to play. That sounds like a “no-brainer,” but in some organizations a No. 1 draft pick would automatically get a major league look. With the Phillies there is so much depth that nothing can be taken for granted. If nothing else, his draft position and the Phillies’ financial investment in him should buy him more development time to prove capable of major league play.

CONCLUSIONS

Cornelius Randolph is a former No. 1 draft pick for the Philadelphia Phillies out of high school in Georgia. He was a very good hitting star shortstop in high school and had intended to play college baseball.

Randolph had a shoulder injury in his first full season as a professional. That caused him to miss some at-bats. He finished this past season with a .250 average, but he was healthy.

Randolph is now playing in the Arizona Fall League where I had the chance to see him play.

Not overly fast and not a great defender in left field, Randolph has the chance to be a good hitter. His hit tool is probably his best overall skill. It is quite possible home run power will come as his frame develops.

I can see Randolph getting an opportunity to play for the parent club by September of  2018.

SCOUTING PHRASE FOR RANDOLPH: An average offensive player with a chance to improve through his development program

SCOUTING GRADE FOR RANDOLPH: 50 – an everyday outfielder

Follow me on twitter @BerniePleskoff

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