Phillies draft pick Cornelius Randolph to play outfield
It is very rare, Phillies scouting director Johnny Almaraz said, when an entire draft room comes to a consensus. That's what he said happened Monday night as the Phillies selected shortstop Cornelius Randolph with the tenth overall pick.
The 18-year-old from outside Atlanta will transition to the outfield. He will likely move to left field, where he has played in the past. It was the second time in three years that the Phillies used their first-round pick on a shortstop. Randolph is blocked at that position by top prospect J.P. Crawford, who is at double-A Reading.
The Phillies rated Randolph as the top high school hitter and one of the draft's top three hitters. Almaraz projects Randolph to hit in the middle of the order. Randolph will likely start the season at short-season Williamsport.
"We love his bat," Almaraz said. ". . . There's no doubt we feel he's got a chance to a hitter in the major leagues that hits for both average and power."
The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder batted .526 this season in 17 games for Griffin High. He hit seven homers and 11 doubles and walked 27 times. Randolph has committed to play baseball at Clemson. The Phillies flew to Atlanta to conduct a workout for him. Almaraz said there are a lot of major-league players he could compare Randolph to, but he declined to name names.
"You've seen his swing. He's got a lot of similarities with a lot of pretty good lefthanded hitters," Almaraz said. "I mean, guys who are batting champions. This guy has that kind of ability."
The Phillies also held the 48th pick overall Monday night. They'll have the 83d overall pick when the draft resumes Tuesday afternoon with rounds three through 10.
Baseball America ranked Randolph as the draft's 20th-best prospect. MLB.com ranked him as the 19th best. Almaraz said the Phillies ranked him inside their top 10. He said that Randolph may have dropped because some teams' drafts are college-oriented but that it does not matter to him. Almaraz said he looks only at a player's talent and ability to hit. Age, he said, has nothing to do with it.
The Phillies picked Randolph over several college pitchers. Almaraz said he would take a topflight hitter over a pitcher that he does not project to be a No. 1 or 2 starter.
"I was very interested in signing an offensive player and somebody who I believe in the future is going to be an impact bat," Almaraz said. "A future middle-of-the-order bat. A three or four."
Almaraz said Randolph is a fun kid with a great attitude. His high school and summer league coaches love him, Almaraz said.
"He's one of the kids you have to pull out of the batting cage," Almaraz said. "We asked him this year: Who gave you lessons? He said he never had a lesson in his life."