Player: Jeren Kendall
DOB: 2/4/1996 (Age: 18)
Height/Weight: 5'10", 175 lbs
School: Holman (Wisconsin) HS
College Commitment: Vanderbilt
Playing in the baseball hotbed that is Wisconsin, Jeren Kendall had his work cut out for him to climb as high up the draft boards as he has.
Kendall was a standout performer at last year's Area Code Games, showing off an above-average hit tool, elite speed and very good arm strength. His biggest knock is a small frame and lack of power, but center fielders with four average-or-better tools don't grow on trees.
Of course, consistency has never been Kendall's strength. He was exposed at the World Wood Bat Association Championships last October, struggling to drive the ball with a wood bat and looking overmatched against pitchers whom an elite talent should crush.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
Despite some inconsistent performances in showcase events, Kendall has shown the ability to be an above-average hitter; has short, compact swing and barrel control to hit the ball into gaps; has no load, starting with an open stance and hands high before driving through the ball; doesn't have much hip rotation but does a good job staying back to generate pop.
Because of his small stature, limited hip rotation and average bat speed, Kendall doesn't project to hit for a lot of power; control of the bat head through the zone allows him to barrel a lot of balls, allowing him to find the gap a lot; some raw strength in his upper body, but it's not going to be enough to hit more than 10 homers in a season.
Plate Discipline: 40/50
There's been a wide variance in Kendall's approach at the plate; he'll show a keen eye with patience and pitch recognition but at other times will flail aimlessly at hittable pitches; not hard to project average discipline with more experience and acclimation to professional baseball.
One of the fastest runners in the draft class, Kendall shows excellent speed out of the box and can beat out his share of infield hits; terrific base stealer because of his speed, though reading pitchers will also play a role in that.
Kendall is already a strong defender in center field and will get better with experience, taking cleaner routes and reading the ball off the bat better; covers a ton of ground thanks to his speed and has plus arm strength.
In terms of pure arm strength, Kendall would fit well in right field; he fits well in center field, where the bat profiles much better; has quick release and shows plenty of accuracy when making throws to third base.
MLB Player Comparison: Brett Gardner
When you think about elite defenders who can hit for average with the speed to turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples, two names immediately spring to mind: Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury.
Ellsbury has more natural speed, so Gardner is the more apt comparison for Kendall. He's got the same short, quick stroke to the ball and makes harder contact than someone with a slight build should.
Projection: Above-average center fielder on first-division team
MLB ETA: 2017
Chances of Signing: 55%
Even though Kendall would rate higher on my personal board, there seems to be a divide over what his actual ceiling is. That could hurt teams negotiating with him, especially since he's got a commitment to play baseball at Vanderbilt, one of the best programs in the country, to build his stock for the 2017 draft.