With the dramatically shortened Major League Baseball amateur draft coming up later this week, we wanted to take a look at some of the names that are floating around the Reds spot (number 12) in the first round.
Last week, Wick took a look at two potential prospects, Austin Hendrick and Pete Crow-Armstrong, two lefty batting outfield prep prospects that have been linked to the Reds in recent weeks. Today the theme remains the same, as I’ll go deeper on Robert Hassell, a lefty batting outfield prep prospect.
Hassell is currently listed a very lean 6’2”, 190-195 lbs. The Franklin, TN native is currently committed to Vanderbilt, but I imagine a selection in the top 10-15 of the draft will probably change that commitment. He was a part of the 2019 All American Classic game as a teammate of Hendrick (they played against a team with Crow-Armstrong). Here’s the blurb from his Perfect Game page:
Lean high waisted athletic build, lots of physical projection and room to get stronger. 6.54 runner, moves well in the outfield with light feet and good overall athleticism and bounce, can use his lower half more throwing. Left handed hitter, wide slightly open stance, has fast hands he uncoils well to start his swing, uphill swing plane with good extension out front, projects power, ball jumps when squared, loose and easy swing.
There is some consensus among scouts and writers that Hassell is the best pure hitter in the prep class, with MLB.com including this in his draft bio:
Hassell has a pretty left-handed stroke and the hand-eye coordination to barrel balls with ease. He’s at his best when he lashes line drives to all fields but his swing got too uphill when he made a conscious effort to hit homers in the middle of the summer.
And therein lies the rub with Hassell, as despite having a pure swing and great bat, scouts are split on how good the power will eventually develop. The ones who really like him obviously trust that it will be at least average in the future, but others aren’t so sure.
Along with that, there’s some concern that as his body fills out a little more as he ages, Hassell may size himself out of center field. The bat certainly plays fine as a center fielder, even if the power never develops to be significant. However, having to be a corner outfielder with power issues is quite a bit less valuable.
If that sounds kinda familiar, it seems eerily similar to where the Reds were with Jesse Winker a few years ago. It sounds as though Hassell is pretty significantly better in the outfield right now, but still; a possible corner outfielder with a great bat but has power concerns. Winker’s power has shown up in the last two seasons at Great American Ballpark, and it’s certainly something the Reds have shown they can make work.