Phils take shortstop Randolph with 10th pick

Phils take shortstop Randolph with 10th pick

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies believe they selected the best high school hitter in the country on Monday night in the 2015 Draft.

They certainly hope so.

The Phillies picked Cornelius Randolph with the 10th overall pick in the Draft, which continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 1 p.m. ET.

48th overall: Scott Kingery

Randolph is a left-handed hitting shortstop from Griffin, Ga., but scouting director Johnny Almaraz said he will move to left field. Almaraz is optimistic that the Phillies will sign Randolph in the near future.

"We love his bat," Almaraz said of Randolph, who is listed at 6 foot 1 and 190 pounds. "He's somebody who we feel is one of the top three hitters in the country as far as this year's Draft is concerned. Very rarely do you ever get a consensus from an entire room. There's no doubt we feel he's got a chance to be a hitter in the Major Leagues that hits for both average and power."

The fact that the Phillies selected a shortstop two years after they drafted shortstop J.P. Crawford in the first round should not alarm or confuse anybody. First, scouts do not think Randolph has the quickness to remain a middle infielder. Second, high school shortstops are routinely moved to different positions once they become professionals. This group includes Mike Schmidt, Chipper Jones, Chase Utley, Jim Thome, Brandon Phillips, Chuck Knoblauch, Adam Jones, Melvin Upton, Justin Upton and Michael Cuddyer.

But the Phillies like Randolph, 18, because of his potential to hit. He batted .526 with 11 doubles, seven home runs, 27 walks and a .934 slugging percentage in 17 games this season.

"It's somebody that we feel has an extremely high ceiling as far as hitting ability is concerned," Almaraz said. "There's a lot of players you could compare him to. He's got a lot of similarities with a lot of pretty good left-handed hitters. I don't want to mention any names, several. I mean, guys who are batting champions, this guy has that kind of ability."

Randolph has drawn comparisons with Tony Gwynn, but time will tell.

Of course, Almaraz said there was a point they would not have reached for a bat.

"There was a breaking point," he said. "The way I operate, I believe unless he has potential to be a No. 1 or No. 2 starter, I'm not going to forfeit a third starter for a strong and impact bat."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.