Padres: Robert Hassell is a top 10 center field prospect in latest rankings


The San Diego Padres may have hit the prep jackpot when they selected standout outfielder Robert Hassell in the first round of last summer’s draft. Stocked with a top 10 pick, general manager A.J. Preller chose to stay on the prep path, choosing Hassell, who may have been the best high school bat in the draft. Baseball America believes in Hassell as well, ranking him seventh on their top 15 center field prospects entering 2021 (subscription required).

To understand just how good Hassell is projected to be, the 19-year-old forewent a commitment to Vanderbilt to sign his deal with San Diego. Hassell was also the first prep name off the board, as the Colorado Rockies selected another big bat in outfielder Zac Veen immediately following Hassell.

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Apropos of his approach, Hassell has an effortless swing that cuts through the zone with tranquil ease. Watching his approach, there is a note of Bryce Harper that can be seen in his drive through the zone. Hassell has fast hands, which creates above-average bat speed, which will continue to help his already strong ability to drive the ball.

There is some discussion about how Hassell’s power will translate, but he has a very projectable frame and, as a 19-year-old, plenty of time to grow. Putting the comp back on the table, Harper was a minutia bigger than Hassell. However, there is a lot of similarities present on the surface.

Robert Hassell was always the plan for the Padres

Preller talked about Hassell’s overall athleticism and versatility, zoning in on the possibility that while Hassell is in a spot to stick in center field, the versatility to move to a corner outfield spot can help further develop Hassell’s ability overall.

Hassell hit a cool .423 with 14 home runs in his junior year at Independence High School. At the MLB Prospect Development Pipeline Showcase two summers ago, he hit .385 with a .654 slugging percentage. Finally, at the 18-U World Cup in South Korea, Hassell hit .514, which earned him the honor of International Player of the Year.

Mark Conner, San Diego’s scouting director, also believes in his ability and believes too that Hassell is the best prep hitter in the class. Not to distract from those beliefs or opinions as high school is a much different atmosphere than college, but it is high praise. The Padres recently traded Hudson Head as part of a deal to acquire starter Joe Musgrove, giving Hassell the reigns as the Padres’ top outfield prospect.

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As though everyone was not aware of San Diego’s system’s depth, Hassell adds yet another element to the genius of Preller’s work and should prove to be an above-average player who one day could very well represent the club as a future all-star.