An analysis on San Diego Padres 2019 first-round pick, CJ Abrams.
With the sixth overall pick in the 2019 MLB Amateur Draft, the San Diego Padres selected CJ Abrams, an 18-year-old high school shortstop from Georgia. Abrams became the third straight high school player selected in the first round by the Padres, joining MacKenzie Gore and Ryan Weathers.
Several questions were surrounding this selection. San Diego had plenty of options to choose from, and with the team inching closer to contention, several people believed that the organization would elect to go the college route with this pick. An older, more mature player would likely reach the major leagues quicker and have a quicker impact than a high schooler would.
Like most teams, however, the Padres don’t draft based on need. They selected who they believed to be the best player available on their board regardless of his age or position.
An Alabama commit, Abrams is likely to forego his commitment with the Crimson Tide and sign with the organization. It’s unclear how long this might take, as 2018 first-round pick Ryan Weathers was one of the last players to sign from his draft class. When it’s all said and done, however, Abrams will almost certainly be a San Diego Padre.
Standing at roughly 6-foot-1 and 178 pounds, Abrams was one of the highest rated prospects across draft boards. MLB.com rated him the fourth best prospect in this draft, and he was a consensus top four pick until a few days before the draft. Several prep scouting websites, such as Perfect Game and Prep Baseball Report, had Abrams ranked as either the second or third best player in the 2019 high school class.
Offensively, Abrams is more refined than he is given credit for. He swings a quick, left-handed bat that he controls extremely well. His bat-to-ball skills might be the best in the class, as Abrams has a knack for consistently making contact and putting the ball in play. He’s not a power hitter by any means, but if he fills out as he matures he could certainly be a low double-digit home run hitter.
— Prep Baseball Report (@prepbaseball) June 3, 2019
This plays in his favor tremendously because of his elite running ability. Several scouts have already given him 75-grade speed, while others have even gone as far as to say he is already at the 80-grade mark. At a Perfect Game showcase in 2019, Abrams ran a 6.29 60-yard dash, which is ridiculously above-average by any means. That alone makes him a game-changing player, as Abrams just needs to put the ball in play to give him a chance to find his way on base. His agility and instincts on the basepaths should allow him to one day be an elite baserunner.
Abrams is currently a shortstop, almost certainly based on his athleticism, and while he isn’t a liability in the field, does not have the natural actions to be a quality major league shortstop. Nothing should ever be ruled out, but he’s more likely to move over to second base or transition to the outfield than stay at his current position.
As for his fit with the Padres, Abrams adds a potential impact player to a farm system primarily known for its pitching. He’s almost certainly going to be moved to center field, mostly because of some 20-year-old phenom who is currently playing shortstop for the major league club. His athleticism and pure hitting skills have drawn comparisons to Dee Gordon with more power. Gordon was one of the league’s best second baseman a few years ago, which is something that the Padres would love to get out of Abrams. He’s an interesting player and certainly one to monitor, even if he won’t be with the major league club for at least three more years.