Entering the 2019 MLB draft, the general consensus was that a group of six players encompassed the “cream of the crop” available for selection.  The Padres have selected pitchers with their first pick in several recent drafts, but the top-end talents this year were position players.  Among those players was a lefty-hitting shortstop with top-of-the-scale speed from Trinity Catholic High School in Georgia.

CJ Abrams is a 6’2″, 180lb athlete who has excelled in every sport he’s played.  He stood out on the football field as a wide receiver and rumor has it that he can throw down a nasty windmill dunk.  While the multi-sport athlete profile immediately brings memories of Buddy Reed, the initial comps run from Kenny Lofton to Jarrod Dyson to Dee Gordon.  His calling card is his 80-grade speed, the highest grade on the 20-to-80 scouting scale.  He will be given plenty of opportunities to remain at shortstop, but there is already conjecture that centerfield may be his eventual defensive home.  Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel prepared the following assessment of Abrams’ skillset, applying a Future Value of 50:

TLDR

80 runner with feel to hit who is going to play up the middle, possibly at shortstop. Has grown into more raw power this spring and has projection remaining.

Full Report

Abrams stood out early in his high school career and colleges that recruited him regarded him as too talented to get to campus as early as age 15. He’s developed into an 80 runner with 55-grade raw power that many think will turn into a 60 down the road. He’s okay at shortstop mainly because the actions and instincts aren’t present, so most think he moves to center field down the road. The swing is geared for line drives and has mechanical similarities to Kenny Lofton’s. Most clubs regard Abrams as more of a 50 makeup guy (admittedly a subjective distinction) who has questionable enthusiasm for the game, but at some point, his near historic raw tools and strong track record are too much to pass up.

In a gesture of honor and respect for Don Welke, the staff wore red blazers in the Padres draft room.  Welke was a career scout who mentored Padres GM AJ Preller and spent the end of his decades-long career in the Padres organization.  Welke passed away last September.

Say hello to the newest Padres prospect, CJ Abrams!

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