Name: Jeren Kendall
Selection: 1st round, 23rd overall
Top 200 Ranking: 3rd(!)
What he’s good at right now: Kendall has 80-grade speed and plenty of speed production on offense. His speed is put to use in centerfield, where he will also show a 70-grade arm. A twitchy athlete, Kendall has outstanding power production for an up the middle player and presently grades above average in raw power. His plus bat speed and the impact he can put on the baseball should make him productive offensively even with some contact concerns.
What he can be good at in the future: Kendall’s future power grade of 60 gives him four easy plus tools. He needs a little refinement on his defensive instincts, but has the tools to slide to a corner should the need arise.
What does he need to work on: Kendall struck out 74 times in 62 games this year, but he has shown better discipline in past seasons. Kendall’s smallish frame won’t fill out much more, but further refinement on his immense tools can make him a complete player.
Carry tool: The 80-grade speed will give him a future as no worse than a defensive minded fourth outfielder, but with 70 arm and 60 future pop, he has a few carry tools to pick from.
Biggest weakness: The strikeouts dropped Kendall to pick 23, but let me stress again that the hard impact he does make will make him a producer despite the strikeouts.
ETA: He is ready for full-season ball now, and could reach the majors in 3½ years if he works to minimize his flaws.
Realistic best-case scenario: Kendall isn’t as physical, but a production and defensive profile comparable to George Springer might not be off the mark. He has even more speed than Springer, who also had real swing and miss concerns before going in the first round to Houston.
Wrap: Kendall is the highest ranked player the Dodgers have ever selected from my big board, and immediately becomes the toolsiest player in the Dodger organization. How he performs in the early go will ultimately determine his ranking, but he’s a top-five prospect the day he signs. The strikeouts give me some pause, but he’s performed at Vanderbilt from day one and has yet to let the strikeouts become overly detrimental to his play on both sides of the ball. Earlier today Baseball America suggested some signability questions on Kendall, so the bonus might come in a little ahead of slot, so that will bear watching going forward this week.