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June 08, 2015

Phillies select 18-year-old Cornelius Randolph with No. 10 pick in draft

They also drafted Arizona 2B -- and Pac-12 Player of the Year -- Scott Kingery in the second round

With the 10th overall pick in the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft, the Phillies have selected Cornelius Randolph of Griffin High School (Ga.), a left-handed hitting middle infielder.

Only thing is, they don't plan to play him there. Instead, according to Director of Amateur Scouting Johnny Almaraz, he'll likely move to left field, a position the Phillies scouted* him at in Georgia and Florida.

*Almaraz also said that he played LF "80 percent of the time" last summer, so it's not a completely new position for the kid.

But if Cody Asche's recent move from third base to left field is any indication, a position can be somewhat irrelevant at this point. For the Phillies, it was all about getting what they saw as a top-three hitter in the draft.

“There’s a lot of players you could compare him to ... I mean guys who are batting champions, this guy has that kind of ability.”

"We love his bat," Almaraz said. "He’s somebody who we felt is one of the top three hitters in the country as far as this year’s draft is concerned. Very rare do you ever get a consensus from an entire room. There’s no doubt we feel he’s got a chance to a hitter at the major leagues that hits for both average and power."

But among fellow high school kids, Almaraz thinks Randolph is the "best bat in the country."

Randolph, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound power hitter, batted .526 in 17 games with 11 doubles, seven home runs, 27 walks and a .934 slugging percentage for Griffin High. 

“There’s a lot of players you could compare him to," Almaraz said. "You’ve seen his swing ... he’s got a lot of similarities with a lot of pretty good left-handed hitters, I don’t want to mention any names, several. I mean guys who are batting champions, this guy has that kind of ability.”

Once the Phillies sign Randolph -- assuming they can* -- they'll need to decide at what level the 18-year-old start his pro career, in addition to his position.

*He could turn them down to play at Clemson instead, but Almaraz said he expects Randolph to sign "pretty quickly."

"Probably he could go to Williamsport (low A)," Almaraz said. "But that is something that Joe (Jordan, Director of Player Development) is going to discuss with me internally and we’ll make the best decision for his development."

And for any high school player, but especially a guy like Randolph, development is crucial; his age alone makes him a raw talent. Among the things that Almaraz told reporters about the Phillies' first-round pick, one stood out.

“Fun kid, very happy," he said of Randolph's personality. "Just loves the game, very passionate kid. He’s one of the kids you have to pull out of the batting cage. 

  • THE TOP 10
  • A look at the nine first-round picks before the Phillies. [*Denotes high school player]
    1. D’Backs - SS Dansby Swanson
    2. Astros - SS Alex Bregman
    3. Rockies - SS Brendan Rodgers*
    4. Rangers - RHP Dillon Tate
    5. Astros - OF Kyle Tucker*
    6. Twins - LHP Tyler Jay
    7. Red Sox - OF Andrew Benintendi
    8. White Sox - RHP Carson Fulmer
    9. Cubs - OF Ian Happ

"We asked him this year who gave you lessons? He said he never had a lesson in his life.”

Wait, what?

Sure, he's had coaches -- and they supposedly liked him as much as the Phillies -- but a guy that hits this well without one-on-one lessons from a hitting instructor? Talk about a blank canvas...

"[His coaches] love him, great kid," Almaraz added. "We’ve done our homework. We believe this kid is wired as such that he’s going to be a winner at the major-league level."

The fact that he's just 18 means he's even further away from making to the bigs than, say, a player drafted out of college, so general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. will almost certainly be hearing from fans anxious to promote the young infielder outfielder as soon as possible.

And since Asche is expected to be the "left fielder for years to come" -- Amaro's words, not mine -- that should leave plenty of time for Randolph to develop his game and prepare for the major league level.

Here's a scouting video, via FanGraphs:

And here's some analysis, via

Round 2

Could this be Chase Utley's replacement?

The Phillies selected second baseman Scott Kingery from the University of Arizona with their second pick of the night (second round, 48th overall).

Almaraz said he believes the slick-fielding, speedy Kingery can move up through the organization quickly and that he could be a top-of-the-order type of hitter -- he hit leadoff for Arizona -- when he arrives at the major league level.

In 54 games with the Wildcats, the righty hit .392 with 15 doubles and five home runs. He also led the Pac-12 in hits (92) and runs (53) on his way to being named the conference's player of the year.

As for hobbies... 

I was always partial to MarioKart 64, but I won't hold that against him.