Draft Prospect Watch: Two Top High School Outfielders in the 2020 Draft

We don’t have a set date for the 2020 MLB amateur draft yet, but we now know that it will be held between June 10th and July 20th, with fewer rounds and a signing deadline that will be no later than August 1st. We are going to continue the Draft Prospect Watch series as normal, even if the date gets pushed back to July 20th. Worst case scenario is that you know a lot about more draft picks than normal.

The Pittsburgh Pirates own the seventh overall pick in this draft, as well as the 31st and 44th overall picks. Their draft bonus pool for five rounds was announced recently. Each Saturday, we will take an in depth look at one prospect who could be a good fit for that seventh overall pick, as well as another who rates a little lower and fits better with those two lower picks. In case you missed it, here’s our draft preview article.

We have posted ten Draft Prospect Watch articles so far, which are all linked here:

Nick Gonzales and Jordan Westburg

Asa Lacy, JT Ginn and Emerson Hancock

Jordan Walker and Zac Veen

Garrett Mitchell and Freddy Zamora

Austin Wells and Patrick Bailey

Tyler Soderstrom and Drew Romo

Jared Kelley and Alex Santos

Max Meyer and CJ Van Eyk

Heston Kjerstad and Daniel Cabrera

Carson Tucker

Today we look at two of the top high school outfielders in the draft class. Both of these players ranked well in the latest update from Baseball America, which had updated scouting reports through the stoppage of play. They’re both lefty hitters and throwers.

We start with Robert Hassell from Thompson’s Station, Tennessee. He has a commitment to Vanderbilt, but he’s expected to go off the board within the first 20 picks, so that should have him going pro. BA has him ranked 16th now, the same spot as MLB Pipeline.

Hassell stands in at 6’2″, 190 (or 195) pounds. He is old for this high school class. He’s about to turn 19 on August 15th. Hassell is a player who had a chance to answer a lot of questions as a senior. One thing about him that isn’t in question is his bat. He’s going to be a high OBP guy thanks to a great approach at the plate, mixed with an ability to make solid consistent contact and a strong understanding of the strike zone. He also uses the entire field. He’s going to hit his way to the upper levels, but how far he gets depends on the rest of his game.

Hassell has the same report from BA and Pipeline as far as the questions. Scouts are split on his power potential, with the middle ground seeming to be 15 homers per season. He won’t be a big power hitter, but there’s a chance to exceed that middle ground.

There are also some defensive questions here. There’s a split between him ending up in center field or a corner spot, with his speed being part of the concern. He runs well, but he’s not a strong first step guy aka good “under way” speed. His arm is above average and will play well at any position.

The peak here is a high OBP center fielder with 20 homers per season. The downside is high OBP corner outfielder with doubles power. If the Pirates were among the teams that saw the high upside version, then Hassell could sneak into that seventh spot.

Here’s a video posted by “Baseball.” on the YouTubes, showing Hassell last summer

Here’s one from 2080 Baseball from last June

Our second high school outfielder is Pete Crow-Armstrong, who was rated one spot below Hassell on BA’s latest update. He’s ranked 25th for MLB Pipeline. Crow-Armstrong has a commitment to Vanderbilt just like Hassell, so that school has a chance to miss out on two big names. He is seventh months younger than Hassell, making him average age for the draft class. Crow-Armstrong stands in at 6’0″, 175 according to BA, 6’1″, 180 pounds according to Pipeline.

Crow-Armstrong has the same high OBP potential as Hassell, without the power potential. He has better tools though, profiling as a center fielder with plus speed and an above average arm. Pipeline says that he could be the best defensive outfielder in the draft class. He’s more of a top of the lineup hitter, who can make a difference on the bases.

Prior to 2019, Crow-Armstrong was getting some buzz as an easy top ten pick in the draft. He didn’t have the best summer, showing some swing-and-miss for the first time. According to limited reports, he looked like he was regaining that early first round tag this spring. His success far outweighs the down period during his junior year. His upside is a strong center fielder who gets on base and runs well. If the junior year was more than just a blip on his screen, then you lose some of that OBP and the speed value that comes along with being on base often.

Here is a video from last year provided by Prospects Live

This one is slightly older from 2080 Baseball

Here’s a short video from Baseball America

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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