Alex Kielar | June 9th, 2020
The Major League Baseball amateur draft will begin on June 10th at 7 pm ET. Up next in our MLB Draft profiles is a two-way prep player from Independence High School in Tennesse, Robert Hassell III, who is considered by many as the best pure hitter in the high school pool and a legitimate pitching prospect as well.
Make sure to check out our other MLB Draft profiles here.
Robert Hassell III, OF/LHP, Independence High School (Tennessee)
Weight: 195 lbs
Hassell was born on August 15, 2001, in Franklin, Tennessee where he was a centerfielder and pitcher for Independence HIgh. Before we get to his high school days, I have to mention that he played on the 2014 South Nashville team that appeared in the Little League World Series and faced off against Mo’ne Davis. Ten players from that team have been signed or are committed to college programs.
Hassell reached several accolades while in high school, including being named the International Player of the Year last year when he played on the USA 18U National Team in the WSBC 18-U World Cup. He showed off what kind of hitter he is with a slash line of .514/.548/.886. He led Team USA in almost all offensive categories, batting average, slugging, on-base percentage, hits (18), runs (14), RBIs (14), doubles (5), and home runs (2).
No. Doubt. 😤 #ForGlory🇺🇸
— USA Baseball 18U (@USABaseball18U) September 4, 2019
The Vanderbilt commit was also outstanding in the inaugural MLB Prospect Development Pipeline showcase with the bat and on the mound, hitting .385/.467/.654 with four doubles and a home run while not allowing an earned run and striking out eight. Another example of dominance on the mound came when led Independence to a win in the 2019 District II-AAA championship as he pitched a 17 strikeout no-hitter.
— Robert Hassell III (@robert_hassell3) May 17, 2019
Hassell also homered in his first at-bat in every of his four high school seasons, while taking home the Gatorade Player of the Year Award for Tennesse the past two seasons. He will most likely be the first prep player from Tennesse to be drafted in the first round since Mike White in 1986.
The left-handed Hassell is considered a better hitter than a pitcher. Ultimately that will be what gets him the to the major leagues. He has a lean athletic build and projects to be very physical with room to get stronger and tap more into his power tool. Hassell hit 14 homers in 2019 as the leadoff hitter. He has quick hands and solid extension. Watching is swing on tape is pretty mesmerizing as it is very smooth and controlled through the zone. He has a short leg quick as he winds up to hit, which creates more leverage and power to his swing.
Hassell performs the best when he trusts in his hitting ability and doesn’t try to do too much, hitting line drives to all fields. While his prep counterparts Zac Veen and Pete Crow-Armstrong hit for more power, Hassell is the better pure all-around hitter. His ability to pitch helps him be a solid outfielder with arm strength that projects him as a corner outfielder. He is also a fast runner and he stole 22 bases in 2019.
He has a quick and repeatable delivery with a fastball that tops out at 90 MPH and a hard-biting slider. He also has a changeup that isn’t as advanced in his repertoire. Hassell went 5-2 with a 1.07 ERA with 113 strikeouts and just 21 walks over 59 innings in the 2019 season. He could easily be a draft pick on the mound but he is just that much better with the bat.
There is debate among scouts about how much pop Hassell will end up tapping into. Some believing he has solid raw power and will tap into most of it. Others think he is leaner and not as projectable, and will turn into more of a 15-home run hitter. There was a period during his high school career that he tried too hard to hit for power and wasn’t very successful, so he just has to play within his game and let the homers come naturally. If he wants to be a two-way player in the major leagues, it would be smarter to stay committed to Vanderbilt so he can further develop on both sides. The signability factor could also be an issue the further back he ends up being selected.
Since two-way players are not very common in the majors, it is difficult to find an exact comparison for Hassell. As a hitter, he has a very similar swing as Bryce Harper but doesn’t have as much power. His hitting potential reminds me of Cristian Pache of the Atlanta Braves who they signed as an international free agent in 2015. Pache started out as a line drive gap hitter who had raw power which he has started to tap into more. He also was too aggressive at times but still hits for the ball hard and for a pretty high average.
Draft Projection: Round 1 Pick 17, Boston Red Sox
I have seen that the Red Sox believe to be looking to draft a high upside prep prospect in the draft. After just trading away Mookie Betts and not having much outfield upside among their top prospects, Hassell would fit the mold of upside they are looking for. He could wind up as a solid two-way player throughout the minors. That would also very much be a huge plus for Boston, almost like icing on the cake. He has also been projected at times to go sooner than here. It could be somewhat of a steal if they can hit on him. The Sox also have a pretty good track record of developing position players, including Betts and Xander Bogaerts, who they signed in 2009 as an undrafted free agent.
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