With their first pick in the 2020 draft, the San Diego Padres selected outfielder Robert Hassell.
The San Diego Padres had the eighth overall selection in the 2020 MLB Draft after finishing the 2019 season with a record of 70-92. San Diego drafted the 18-year-old outfielder Robert Hassell III from Independence High School in Tennessee, marking him as the first high schooler selected in this year’s draft.
For the fourth-straight year, the Padres have selected a high school prospect with their first selection in the first round. It began in 2017 with the selection of MacKenzie Gore, who was then followed by Ryan Weathers in 2018. CJ Abrams was selected in the 2019 draft out of Blessed Trinity High School.
General Manager AJ Preller is known for taking the best player available, regardless of age. This has helped form one of the top minor league farm systems in all of baseball, which is currently ranked 2nd according to MLB Pipeline.
Hassell is MLB Pipeline’s No. 16 overall prospect, and ESPN’s Keith Law had him as the ninth overall prospect on his draft board.
After hitting an impressive .423 with 14 home runs and 36 RBIs along with 22 stolen bases out of the leadoff spot last season, Hassell earned the honor of the 2019 Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year, an award he also won in 2018.
The last player to win that award? Hassell’s new teammate Ryan Weathers who won in 2017 as a Senior. Ironically, both Weathers and Hassell committed to Vanderbilt to play college ball.
Not only is the 6-foot-2 lefty wildly considered the top high school hitter in the draft, Hassell had a record of 5-2 on the mound, finishing with a 1.07 ERA and struck out 113 batters in 59 total innings. We will see if the Padres give him some pitching reps in the future alongside teammate and shortstop/pitcher prospect Jake Cronnenworth.
Hassell has a pure left-handed swing that creates a lot of bat speed. He can hit for power but is a more consistent contact hitter.
For now, the Padres intend to keep Hassell primarily as a centerfielder. MLB.com had this scouting report on him:
- “The best pure hitter in the 2020 prep class, Hassell has a pretty left-handed stroke and the hand-eye coordination to barrel balls with ease. He’s at his best when he lashes line drives to all fields, but his swing got too uphill when he made a conscious effort to hit homers in the middle of the summer. There’s some debate as to how much pop he’ll ultimately have, with some scouts envisioning solid raw power and believing he’ll tap into most of it. At the same time, other evaluators think he’s leaner than projectable and more of a 15-homer guy. Similarly, Hassell’s biggest boosters believe he could have solid or better tools across the board with a chance to stick in center field, and other scouts think his bat and arm are his only above-average attributes, and he’ll have to play a corner.”
Hassell participated in the 2014 Little League World Series. Hassell started every high school season with a bang as he drilled a home run on the first at-bat of the season in all four years of his career. He is also the first Tennessee high school prep player to be drafted in the first round of the MLB Draft since Mike White in 1986.