The Phillies selected Randolph, from Griffin, GA, 10th overall in the 2015 draft. A middle infielder in high school, Randolph’s standout tool was his bat and he was converted to OF as a pro. Due to injuries that derailed his 2016 campaign, Randolph’s first full and healthy season of pro ball has come in 2017. Randolph was at one point a top 100 prospect according to Baseball America but has fallen completely off the prospect radar. Why?
I’ve spoken to evaluators that do not view him as a viable corner outfielder and have wondered where the bat has gone. Many scouts viewed Randolph as the best highschool bat in the 2015 draft and while he has not put up the numbers of other teenage prospects, it warrants mentioning that going into 2017, Randolph had compiled only 426 at bats in 121 games, registering a respectable .279 average with 27 doubles and 60 BB to 92 K.
In 2017, Randolph has been healthy and has been challenged. He has spent the entire season at High A Clearwater, playing as a 19-year-old against competition around 3-4 years older. His BB rate is down and K rate is up a bit, but so is his power. Randolph currently sits with 12 HR and 18 2B. His paltry .251 average leaves a lot to be desired while his .318 BABIP could suggest a bit of bad luck. However, it cannot be stressed enough that Randolph turned 20 on June 2, 2017 and has played his first full pro season against older competition and in one of the toughest leagues for hitters in all of MiLB.
So who is Cornelius Randolph and should we believe the scouts and evaluators that seem to have given up on him at such a young age? Does his defense and lack of in-game speed on the basepaths hurt his prospect status? Do scouts feel like his once lauded bat plays in the corner OF? The Phillies fans have been quick to call Randolph a bust and Randolph took to Twitter last December to remind fans that developing into a major league player is a process.
According to Randolph, he is not only healthy and still getting stronger, but he has also changed his swing. In high school, Randolph hit off his front foot, and used his quick hands to generate bat speed and drive the ball. This season, he has focused on staying back and driving the ball. I have seen Randolph 4 times this season. He still uses the whole field as he did in high school but he tends to get a little top hand heavy and roll over, producing pull side ground balls. When he trusts his hands, I’ve seen him stay back and unload, hitting a long HR to RCF, by the palm trees at Spectrum Field (Alas, of all the video I have, I don’t have that one). A quick glance at his numbers shows us a 43.6% GB rate and a 15% LD rate this year, leading to a lower average. If Randolph can continue to tweak his swing and use his strong lower half he should be able to generate more line drives and a bit more loft.
The two videos below are of my interview with Randolph, a BP session, followed by some in-game at bats. While he hasn’t produced the numbers that other teenage phenoms have in 2017, Randolph has more than held his own in a tough pitchers league and should be allowed the patience to develop into the hitter that was taken 10th overall in 2015.