Over the next month leading up to the 2019 MLB Amateur Draft, Baseball Info Solutions will be publishing a series of position-by-position scouting reports from our Video Scouts for the top-50 collegiate draft prospects. Each player is graded by the 20-80 scouting scale, given a comprehensive evaluation, and assigned a floor and a ceiling comparison, which indicate–if a player makes the Major Leagues–the range of the type of player into which he can develop.
This post covers the first five of our top college outfielders for the 2019 MLB Draft. This group of outfielders has some high-end, first-round talent and a couple of underrated players in our eyes. All five of these players should have a future in the outfield, with three being center fielders.
JJ Bleday and Hunter Bishop have battled all season for the Division I home run lead and will compete for a top-10 draft selection as well. Kameron Misner has the look and talent of a top-10 pick, but meager production in conference play has made him slide down draft boards. Dominic Fletcher and Bryant Packard own the most consistent college numbers of the group, but lack the size and upside of the other three.
Hunter Bishop, OF
Arizona State University (JR, 2019)
L/R 6-05, 210 lbs
Date of Birth: 06/25/1998
Hit- 50 (60) Power- 60 (65) Run- 65 (60) Arm- 55 (55) Field- 55 (60)
Written by Matt Noskow and Kerby Callison
Hunter Bishop has exploded onto the draft scene this year, competing for the Division I lead in home runs and slugging over 1.000 for most of the year. He struggled last season at Arizona State, batting only .250/.352/.407 with five home runs and an alarming 30 percent strikeout rate before breaking out this season. Bishop is currently hitting .366/.492/.814 with 22 home runs and 11 stolen bases. His monstrous junior season seems legit, but his lack of a track record of college success and struggles in the Cape Cod League should still worry MLB teams.
His breakout and climb up draft boards can be credited to his swing change in the fall. Previously, he had too many moving parts, which caused him to swing and miss at a high rate, but now he takes a more direct path to the ball, which has unleashed his bat speed and led to more power and a refined approach at the plate– he has cut down on his strikeouts and increased his walk total this season. Bishop has increased his walk rate from 11 percent last season to 17 percent this year. His strikeout numbers have fallen dramatically from a 30 percent strikeout rate to 22 percent in his junior season. Most of Bishop’s power is to his pull side, but he can hit to all fields. He has shown vulnerability to breaking balls outside the zone, but his refined eye has given pitchers fits this year as his plate selection has improved dramatically.
Though he has never played center field exclusively, Bishop has shown the ability to be a well above average defender. He has plus range and covers ground very quickly. His arm is average, but should play well enough with the rest of his defense for him to project as a very good center fielder in the future.
Bishop has great power potential as a pro and could be one of the better defensive center fielders as well. He has certainly cemented himself as a first round pick with an eye-popping junior season. His swing adjustment has allowed him to make enough contact to tap into his considerable power and he has handled center field well. Bishop has long had impressive tools and upside, but with little production to back the hype. His junior season has shown what Hunter Bishop is capable of and should make him a top ten selection in the upcoming draft.
Projection: All-Star caliber center fielder with 30-home run potential.
Ceiling: Cody Bellinger
Floor: Michael Saunders
Draft Expectation: Top-10 Pick
JJ Bleday, OF
Vanderbilt University (JR, 2019)
L/L 6-03, 205 lbs
Date of Birth: 11/10/1997
Hit- 55 (60) Power- 55 (60) Run- 50 (50) Arm- 55 (60) Field- 50 (55)
Written by Matt Noskow
JJ Bleday has been a solid starter for two years for Vanderbilt. He has been a consistent force in the middle of the Commodores’ lineup, and has also produced well in the Cape Cod League. Over 249 plate appearances as a junior, he has crushed a Division 1-leading 23 home runs with an OPS north of 1.200.
Bleday possesses great tools at the plate that should make him a quick riser through any system. He has a slightly open stance with a moderate leg kick, and exhibits very good pitch recognition and situational hitting awareness. His natural power is to his pull side, but he has shown the ability to drive the ball to the opposite field. His ability to generate power is evident, with a quick swing and the ability to transfer load to power.
At six-foot-three and 205 pounds, Bleday has ideal size to play a corner outfield spot long-term. He has average to below-average speed, but his strong arm makes up for a lack of range.
Bleday will likely be one of the top college bats drafted this year. He has an interesting profile with potential to further develop the power side of his offensive game. His plate approach is one of his biggest strengths, and should lend itself well to a quick rise through the minors. Despite being limited to a corner outfield spot, Bleday should be viewed as a high-floor prospect who could hear his name called within the first 10 picks of the 2019 draft.
Projection: Everyday corner outfielder with plus power and all-star potential.
Ceiling: Carlos Gonzalez
Floor: David Peralta
Draft Expectation: Top-10 Pick
Kameron Misner, OF/1B
University of Missouri (JR, 2019)
L/L 6-04, 219 lbs
Date of Birth: 01/08/98
Hit- 45 (55) Power- 55 (65) Run- 60 (60) Arm- 60 (60) Field- 55 (60)
Written by Dominic Asta
Misner dominated for Missouri in 2018, batting .360/.497/.576 in 34 games before a broken foot caused by a foul ball ended his season. He played mostly left field and first base in his first two seasons, but has primarily been a center fielder in 2019. He has an imposing frame, standing six-foot-four with a strong, lean build. He was previously drafted in the 33rd round out of high school and his draft stock has exploded since arriving at Mizzou. He has exciting tools across the board, with a power-speed combo that stands out. Misner has dominated non-conference opponents in 2019, but has only posted a .222/.347/.323 line in SEC play. He is an enigma because he has the look and tools of an impact player, yet has not backed it up with his performance.
Misner has a wide, slightly open stance at the plate with his hands at his head. He utilizes a toe tap and uses his above-average bat speed and leverage to drive the ball to all fields. He has struggled with his timing and getting his foot down in SEC play. He has great plate discipline and consistently works the count full. He has a great idea of the strike zone and will take his fair share of walks. Misner has drawn 52 walks on the year and should continue to produce high on-base numbers at the next level.
Many college pitchers are unwilling to challenge him with fastballs, and he sees a steady diet of breaking balls and changeups away. He takes advantage of the opposite field, and can easily turn on pitches and drive them out of the ballpark. His long limbs and slight uppercut can cause his swing to become a bit long and creates a hole in his swing at times. He has struggled with fastballs up in the zone and changeups down and away. His patient approach can occasionally hurt him, as he passes up hittable pitches early in counts. He could help himself by being more aggressive earlier in his at-bats. Misner is just beginning to tap into his power potential, and has the frame and swing to hit 25-plus homers a year. Kameron has displayed some prodigious power this year with great pull-side power and even some homers to the opposite field. He has posted impressive isolated power numbers of .216 and .215 the last two season.
Although Misner is new to center field, he has taken to the position quite well and flashes great potential at the position.. His speed, athleticism and long strides give him above-average range, and his arm is more than capable of handling center, but his reads and routes could use work. With an above-average arm and good speed, Misner can easily handle the corner outfield spots and would be above average in either spot. He also has experience at first base, where his athleticism is not appreciated as much. Misner has rare speed for a player his size. He has used this speed and baserunning ability to steal 49 bags in his college career. He will continue to be a threat on the basepaths at the professional level.
Misner has an extremely exciting combination of power, patience, speed, and versatility. He has the potential to be a 20-20 player and is just beginning to tap into his considerable raw power. He should be a high on-base player with exceptional plate discipline and the ability to play all outfield positions as well as first base. Although Misner has not performed well in conference play this year, he has too much potential and talent to slip out of the first round.
Projection: All-star center fielder with 20-plus homers per year and high on-base numbers.
Ceiling: Josh Hamilton
Floor: Max Kepler
Draft Expectation: Round 1
Dominic Fletcher, OF
University of Arkansas (JR, 2019)
L/L 5-10, 185 lbs
Date of Birth: 09/02/1998
Hit- 45 (55) Power- 50 (55) Run- 50 (50) Arm- 55 (55) Field- 55 (60)
Written by Dominic Asta
Dominic Fletcher is a small and muscular five-foot-ten, 185-pound outfielder from the University of Arkansas. He has surprising pop for his size, hitting 12 homers as a freshman and 10 homers last year. He is currently power over hit and does not project to be an above-average contact hitter. Fletcher is performing at a high level in his junior season, hitting .332/.394/.570. He has proven to be a more than capable defender in center field and has shown consistent power in his college career.
Fletcher has an upright stance with a whippy bat, loose hands, and an aggressive approach. He can mash fastballs with his good bat speed, but he has a tendency to pull his head off breaking balls and swing over them. Fletcher has produced 30 home runs and 44 doubles in his three seasons at Arkansas. His power and approach is mostly to the pull side, but is able to use the opposite field when he keeps his hands back and tempers his aggressive approach. He gets the most out of his small frame by using his strong forearms and quick hands to attack pitches. He has improved his plate discipline in his junior year, raising his BB% from 7 percent to 9 percent, but doesn’t project to be a high on-base percentage player at the next level.
There are differing opinions on whether Fletcher can play center field because he does not have prototypical speed for the position, but his first-step quickness, instincts and route efficiency should allow him to comfortably stick in center. He has shown the ability to track fly ball from gap-to-gap and make highlight-reel plays. His plus arm would also play well in right field, as he led the Razorbacks in outfield assists his sophomore year. Fletcher has average speed home to first, but is faster at max effort. He has only three stolen bases at Arkansas and should not be a threat at the next level.
Fletcher has the potential to be a 15-20-home run center fielder with an above-average arm and solid defense. He has made improvements in his plate discipline and increased his power in his junior season. While Fletcher has little to no projection left, he gets the most out of his frame, has good pop and should stick in CF. He could push himself into the second round if he impresses in SEC play and continues to prove himself in center field.
Projection: Capable center fielder with good pop and arm strength.
Ceiling: David DeJesus
Floor: Gerardo Parra
Draft Expectation: Rounds 3-4
Bryant Packard, OF
East Carolina University (JR, 2019)
L/R 6-03, 200 lbs
Date of Birth: 10/06/1998
Hit- 55 (60) Power- 45 (50) Run- 50 (50) Field- 50 (50) Arm- 45 (50)
Written by Harris Yudin
Packard is one of the more polished hitters in college baseball. He as an excellent feel for the strike zone and a matured plate approach, and while he can be a bit aggressive, his bat-to-ball skills prevent him from racking up many strikeouts– 30 across his first 199 plate appearances in 2019. As of May 13, he has posted a .367/.447/.586 slash line with six home runs.
Packard stands with his knees slightly bent and his feet squared to the pitcher, employing a small leg lift that helps him maintain his balance. He keeps his hands inside and delivers a short, compact stroke with a smooth swing path and good bat speed. The left-handed hitter sprays the ball across the whole field, utilizing the gaps, smashing line drives up the middle and taking pitches away down the third base line. He displayed more power as a sophomore, and there could be more to come given his frame.
Although he has just average speed and isn’t likely to be too much of a base-stealing threat, Packard is an above-average baserunner due to his attentiveness and aggressiveness. He has proven capable in the outfield, with good instincts and an ability to track the ball well, but is likely limited to left field given his middling range and arm strength.
Packard doesn’t possess the upside of many other college hitters, and that will likely affect his stock on draft day. However, his advanced feel for hitting could allow him to advance quickly through the minors. He should hit for a high average at the next level, with 20-homer power within reach.
Projection: Bat-first corner outfielder with strong offensive profile but limited upside.
Ceiling: Corey Dickerson
Floor: David Murphy
Draft Expectation: Rounds 4-5
Other outfielders to keep an eye on:
Ryan Olenek, University of Mississippi
Matt Gorski, University of Indiana
Matthew Barefoot, Campbell University
Peyton Burdick, Wright State University