If Monday was your first exposure to Padres outfield prospect Robert Hassell, it’s safe to say he made quite the first impression.
Hassell, the eighth overall pick in last summer’s draft, is in big league camp at age 19 – having never played at a professional level given the cancellation of last year’s MiLB season. So what did he do in his first in-game action? Casually rip a double off the center field wall, narrowly missing out on a home run.
Hassell isn’t likely to make his Major League debut for several years yet, despite his impressive skillset. Like I said, he’s only 19 and the Padres drafted him straight out of high school. While the sis hardly unprecedented, it means he lacks the mental and physical preparation college ball offers.
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Here’s what MLB Pipeline has to say about Hassell:
"The best pure hitter in the 2020 high school class, Hassell has a pretty left-handed swing and the hand-eye coordination to repeatedly barrel balls. He’s at his best when he focuses on lashing line drives to all fields, but his stroke got too uphill when he made a concerted effort to hunt homers during the middle of the showcase circuit last summer. Scouts debate how much power he’ll ultimately produce — some project solid raw pop and believe he’ll tap into most of it, while others see him as more lean than projectable and envision him as a 15-homer guy."
Without even playing a professional game, Baseball Prospectus pegged him as the #64 prospect in all of baseball. Among the loaded Padres prospect lists, he checks in at fourth behind only MacKenzie Core, CJ Abrams and Luis Campusano – three of the most highly-regarded young talents in the game today.
Padres have opportunities in the outfield long-term
Relatively speaking, the outfield is one area where Hassell won’t face much in terms of roadblocks if you’re looking at the current roster. As I said, it won’t be anytime soon we’re looking at him in San Diego, but the Padres don’t have any long-term pieces locked up in the outfield, either.
This year’s starting outfield is comprised of Tommy Pham, who will be a free agent at year’s end, Trent Grisham – really the main long-term piece of the puzzle as things currently stand – and Wil Myers, the fan favorite who’s under team control through next season with a team option for 2023.
This will allow AJ Preller to give Hassell substantive at-bats as soon as he’s ready, rather than battle the question of whether to promote him or make sure he gets regular playing time in the Minors come 2022 and 2023. Of course, the Padres’ front office guru might add a big-time name between now and then, as well.
But right now, Robert Hassell has all the tools to be the real deal in the San Diego outfield. Monday gave us a sneak peak of what he might have in store for us down the road.