Austin Hendrick was the Cincinnati Reds selection on Wednesday night with the 12th overall pick in the 2020 Major League Baseball draft. The outfielder is the latest 1st round pick by the Reds, and was the only Cincinnati pick on the night. The Reds will have five picks on day two of the draft.
So, what do we need to know about Austin Hendrick? Everything. That’s what. But let’s start with a scouting report on the West Allegheny High School (Imperial, Pennsylvania) graduate.
- Height: 6′ 1″
- Weight: 205 lbs.
- Bats/Throws: Left/Left
- Birthday: June 15, 2001
While Austin Hendrick has the potential to be a 5-tool player down the line, it’s his power that stands out right now. Some scouts give him the best raw power of any player in the entire draft. He’s a big, physical player now, and he’s got one of the quickest bats in the 2020 class. Last summer at the Under Armour All-American he hit a home run completely out of Wrigley Field.
His hit tool is one that is a bit divisive in the scouting world. There’s some concern that he’ll struggle with contact, leading to a below-average hit tool. But the Reds don’t see it that way.
“We didn’t see Austin as a guy who was a power guy who can’t hit. We wouldn’t have taken him there if that’s what we thought,” said Brad Meador, the Cincinnati Reds Director of Amateur Scouting. “Some of the concerns you’ve heard about, you’ve heard about the swing changes he was going through, not only was he trying to work on swing changes, he was doing it in the middle of the prospect league and Team USA – it was against the best arms in the country. To be able to do that, to even try to do that in the first place says something about him and then to be able to do it and still be one of the top, if not the top impact bat coming out of the summer – we felt pretty good about this guy having a chance to hit and really drive the baseball.”
Most places rated his hit tool as average in the future, but that is the one area where you would hear most of the concerns when it comes to Austin Hendrick. But he’s not just a guy who has a chance to hit for both average and power, he’s got some speed, too – with some grades coming out as above-average. Defensively he’s a solid right fielder with an above-average arm that will play just fine.
What is the Reds front office saying?
“We’ve had a chance to watch him in the past. We actually had some of our area scouts coach a team that he played on. Love the power, love the hit tool. Did see a swing change that we think he was working on while facing good competition and still succeeded and was able to incorporate that,” said Reds President of Baseball Operations Dick Williams. “I think this year had he played more than the one game he did, I think he would have been right up there at the top of everyone’s board.”
“A guy that we really liked coming into the year. We saw him over the summer a lot. He eliminated the toe tap (in his swing) during the fall and it just led to more bat speed,” said Reds Vice President and General Manager Nick Krall. “He’s got plus bat speed, takes good at-bats, and he profiles as a prototypical right fielder with a chance to hit in the middle of your lineup.”
What is the national media saying?
While you’re obviously going to hear good things coming from the organization that just selected a guy with a 1st round pick, it’s valuable to look at what is being said by others.
Dan Mullen of ESPN (Link)
The bat speed is the draw here. Hendrick is a little old for his draft class — he’s already 19 — but his 91.0 mph exit velocity could lead to massive power at Cincinnati’s home run-friendly Great American Ballpark. Hendrick will probably end up in a corner rather than center field, but his bat should play fine at any outfield spot.
Baseball America (Link $)
There’s a lot at the link, and since it’s behind a paywall I’m not going to be giving much of it away. But I’ll share the final sentence of their “instant analysis”:
The upside is an outfielder with 40-homer potential.
Christopher Crawford of Rotoworld (Link)
In terms of power potential, there’s no high school bat who possesses more than Kendrick. With his bat speed and natural loft, it’s possible that Kendrick is a 30-plus homer hitter when all is said and done. He’s also an above-average runner, so you have the potential for 20 steals — or more — on top of it. The question mark here is whether Kendrick can make enough contact to hit for average, as the length to his swing likely leads to contact issues. There’s a lot of volatility in this type of profile, but his speed/power combination competes with all but Austin Martin in this class.
Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com via the Pittsburgh Post Gazette (Link)
There might be a couple high school hitters who might be better pure hitters,” Mayo said. “But for bat speed, and how quick his hands are, Hendrick is unparalleled in this class. He’s the best I’ve seen in those areas in quite some time.
Roll that beautiful swing footage
Let's watch Austin Hendrick crush some BP dingers. ? #MLBDraft
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) June 11, 2020
This was taken at last summer’s Under Armor All-American Home Run Derby at Wrigley Field.