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June 17, 2015

Phillies officially unveil Cornelius Randolph, “Gwynn-ish swing”

The first-round pick will report to Clearwater tomorrow

After the Phillies introduced Cornelius Randolph, the tenth overall pick in last week’s MLB Draft, super-agent Scott Boras was talking about the 18-year-old from Griffin, Georgia that he now officially represents. When asked about what player the prep star’s swing reminds him of, Boras gave the usual qualifiers before saying what he really wanted to.

“It’s a little Gwynn-ish,” Boras said. He wasn’t talking about Junior, either.

It’s a funny thing, introducing these first-round baseball picks. For one day, they get the royal treatment: a tour of the ballpark, a meet and greet with most of the current players like Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, and finally, a fairly crowded press conference where they get to officially put on a Phillies uniform and cap in front of the media and their understandably proud family. The next day, they get sent to Clearwater and the bottom of the organizational food chain with a much larger signing bonus than everyone else.

What Boras, Phillies director of amateur scouting Johnny Almaraz, and area scout Aaron Jersild all said on Wednesday was what you’ve generally read in the scouting reports. They all feel that Randolph is an unusually polished high school bat.

“He’s a very, very special hitter,” Boras said. “He has an extension swing in which the barrel of his bat just naturally stays in the zone a long time and usually it takes a lot of minor-league at-bats to teach that to young players. He just does it naturally.” 

One of the major questions is which position the high school shortstop will play as a professional. Last week, Almaraz said the plan was to eventually move Randolph to the outfield. Today, the first-round pick expressed confidence he can make that change, if necessary.

“My feelings about making that move is that I’m open to anything,” Randolph said. “I played outfield before… so I feel like I’ll be able to adapt to anything.”

A major part of the MLB Draft’s first round is signability, and in this case, it didn’t seem to be much of an issue. Randolph reportedly agreed to a signing bonus of $3,231,300, which is slot value for the tenth pick in the draft. Both player and agent said getting the deal done quickly was a part of the process they didn’t take lightly.

“It was very important,” Randolph said. “I’m used to playing in the summertime. It just seems right playing right now.”

“It’s always nice when a lot of veteran baseball people get together and share a common dynamic, and certainly that was the case here,” Boras said.

It’s hard not get sentimental watching a high school kid get a taste of the big leagues. Wednesday was definitely one of the best days of Randolph’s life.

“It was amazing,” Randolph said of the first moment he walked into Citizens Bank Park. “Honestly I was speechless, because when I walked in, it was beautiful.” 

It could be beautiful in the future, too. Tomorrow it’s off to Clearwater, where Cornelius Randolph’s long climb back to the big leagues will begin in earnest.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann