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2019 Draft Preview No. 10: High School Outfielders

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Three flycatchers, all of the very young and talented variety.

St Louis Cardinals v Texas Rangers Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Corbin Carroll, OF, Lakeside High School (WA)

5’11”, 160 lbs

Bats/Throws: Left/Left

DOB: 21 August 2000

So, what’s so great about this guy?

This past August, at the Perfect Game All-American Classic, Corbin Carroll led off the bottom of the first inning with a triple. He was playing center field for the West team, hitting leadoff, and he immediately made an impression. This wasn’t just any triple, either; facing East starter Daniel Espino, Carroll took a down and away fastball at 97 mph and drove it into the left-center gap, over the heads of the outfielders, and cruised into third with what would probably be best described as a polite slide, seeing as how the ball was nowhere near the bag when he arrived.

That one hit sort of encapsulated everything good and exciting about Corbin Carroll, all neatly packaged into a roughly twelve second occurrence. The outstanding batting approach, the surprising gap power from a (very) modest frame, and then the speed. Twelve seconds isn’t long to go from home to third, at least as long as the hitter is running the right direction, that is.

In many ways, Corbin Carroll is a very similar player to Mickey Moniak, the outfielder the Phillies made the number one overall pick in the draft three years ago. At the time, Moniak was a slightly built hitting prodigy with plus speed and athleticism, but whose ceiling was in question due to his lack of strength and power. Full disclosure: I was a big fan of Moniak at the time, thinking he would hit like crazy in pro ball, though I would never, ever have picked him at number one in that draft. The Phillies saw a chance to try and pull a maneuver of the same sort the Astros had the year they took Carlos Correa with the first pick, selecting a talented but not first overall talented player at the top of the draft, and take advantage of his relatively affordable price tag to save money to use on other, less signable, players elsewhere. The downside of that strategy? Well, Moniak has struggled in pro ball, as professional level pitchers have attacked him impunity, nullifying his ability to control the strike zone, and he hasn’t been able to do enough damage to force them to respect him.

The good news is, no one is really looking at taking Carroll first overall, just somewhere in the first round. He’s as talented a pure hitter as there is in this draft class, and his combination of bat speed, bat control, and foot speed could make him a dynamic threat despite not having prototypical size. He works all fields, knows the strike zone, and is advanced far beyond his years as a hitter in general. He occasionally does the Ichiro running start thing as well, and has the hand-eye coordination to make it work for him, not to mention speed that makes those couple extra steps out of the box really matter.

In the outfield, Carroll brings his speed to bear as well, and he looks like he should be an above-average or better center fielder. The arm looks fine to me, though it doesn’t seem notable one way or the other, honestly. And for a center fielder, that’s perfectly fine.

Of the high school hitters available at the top of this year’s draft, only CJ Abrams is clearly faster than Carroll, and it isn’t by much. That speed gives him a chance to be a contributor both on the bases and in the field, but it’s the precocious bat control that gives him a chance to be special. On the downside, Carroll really is a small guy, at least by professional athlete standards, and it’s worth wondering how much power is really in that frame. The lively ball in the big leagues would seem to point toward bat-control hitters possibly exceeding their perceived power ceilings, but it’s really anyone’s guess whether that will continue to be a thing, or for how long. A team considering Carroll early in the draft will have to decide whether he’s more Andrew Benintendi or Ben Revere.

via Perfect Game Baseball:

Sammy Siani, OF, Penn Charter High School (PA)

5’11”, 175 lbs

Bats/Throws: Left/Left

DOB: 14 December 2000

So, what’s so great about this guy?

Okay, so let’s say for a moment that you really liked my scouting report just a moment ago about Corbin Carroll, and you decided that you, as the scouting director of the imaginary team inside your head, really want one of those. Problem is, you don’t think you’re going to get him with your pick. Or maybe your pick is so good you think you’ll find someone else on the board you just can’t pass up, and so Carroll will likely still fall outside your reach. And so, maybe you’re looking for sort of, you know, the off-brand Corbin Carroll.

Well have I got a deal for you. Let me introduce you to Sammy Siani.

Siani’s brother Mike was a top prospect last year, and I was a big fan. He ultimately ended up lasting until the fourth round, which I was shocked by, and was selected by the Reds early on in that round. I was personally frustrated the Cardinals didn’t go after him at some point before that, because I was enamoured of the plus speed and defensive ability, as well as the solid frame that pointed toward future power and a pretty good approach to hitting.

Compared to his older brother, Sammy Siani is a less impressive athlete, but perhaps a bit more polished hitter. The stroke from the left side is very good, and Siani appears to really know what he’s doing at the plate. Simple leg lift and stride, solid hand load, and good balance overall. Mechanically, Siani is extremely sound, and that gives him a good base from which to work.

As for the Corbin Carroll comparison, Siani basically has a very similar game, just with a little lower grade on every tool pretty much across the board. He’s fast enough to play center field, though where Carroll is a 65-70 grade runner, Siani is more like a 55. He’s less explosive of an athlete in general, and even in terms of power, where the doubts about Carroll come in, there’s more natural bat speed and oomph to Carroll’s swing that Siani’s. All of it adds up to Carroll looking like a mid-first round pick, while Siani probably goes somewhere in the latter half of the second or early third round. I don’t know anything about his signability, so his draft stock could change one way or the other and it wouldn’t surprise me, but that’s really not something easily predictable except in fairly extreme cases.

Overall, I’m not super high on Sammy Siani. I think his feel for hitting is a plus, but I don’t think it’s so special as to make him a star, and the rest of his physical tools are solid, but not spectacular. If he can stay in center maybe that bumps his projection up, but I’m not 100% sold on that. There’s a little of Jon Jay in Siani’s game, and while Jay was a perfectly productive player for the Cardinals, that’s a profile that doesn’t have much in the way of margin for error built in.

via Perfect Game Baseball:

Maurice Hampton, OF, Memphis University High School (TN)

6’0”, 195 lbs

Bats/Throws: Right/Right

DOB: 1 August 2001

So, what’s so great about this guy?

Maurice Hampton presents an interesting counterpoint to the other two players I’m covering here today, in that he’s a much younger player, a potentially more impressive athlete, but has much further to go to unlock his physical tools, whereas both Siani and Carroll are both very advanced, mature players for their level.

Hampton is, or has been up to this point, a two-sport athlete, and a pretty highly regarded cornerback recruit. He’s ticketed for LSU, and if he makes it to campus he will continue playing two sports. Personally, I would try to select him early enough in the draft to buy him away from that commitment, because I think Maurice Hampton has a chance to be a hell of a baseball player.

Across the board, Hampton has impressive tools, from plus speed (though not quite in Carroll’s elite range), to natural bat speed that gives him significant power potential. He’s a batting-practice superstar at the moment, though, as his approach to hitting needs work. That’s not at all shocking, of course; the rawness is the downside of going after a two-sport athlete, and you just have to hope you have the structure in place to help him develop and take advantage of the natural gifts he was given. Hampton has an idea at the plate, certainly, but doesn’t yet have the reps under his belt to take on top-quality competition on equal footing. The big-time raw power he possesses does give him the advantage of forcing respect from pitchers, and his biggest step forward will probably come when he learns to focus down on those pitches he wants to hit and ignore the rest, because pitchers will not be able to simply attack him over the plate with impunity.

Hampton is the sort of athlete you can dream on, because he does literally everything well. Plus bat speed, plus foot speed, plus raw power, plus throwing arm, what looks like a plus glove as well. At the moment he’s just out-athleting the competition, and that’s fine. Focusing on baseball alone, though, and honing those tools into skills could turn him from a superior athlete into a superior baseball player, and depending on what his signability number is he could sneak into the supplemental round. If he were still on the board when the Cardinals made their second pick, though, I would hope they could find enough wiggle room in the bonus budget to take him and get him on a development track, because the payoff could be huge.

via Baseball Factory: