You can say that CJ Abrams was destined for great success on the baseball diamond at a young age.
Hailing from Alpharetta, Georgia the prep shortstop has been on the national showcase circuit and played for Team USA U18 team this past summer hitting .297/.395/.324 in nine games. A verbal commitment to Alabama, Abrams has been a plus 1.000 OPS hitter for four years at Blessed Trinity High School. In 2019, Abrams slashed .420/.465/.694 with a 7.6 BB% and a 4.1 K% with a significant increase in power numbers. Abrams hit 17 doubles (more than the combined totals from Freshman to Junior seasons), five triples, and three home runs with 27 RBI. In his high school career, Abrams was 99-for-103 in stolen bases.
MLBPipeline – Hit: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 75 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 |
Fangraphs (current/future) – Hit: 25/55 | Power: 20/50 | Run: 70 |
Arm: 55/60 | Field: 45/50
I first saw Abrams at the Under Armour showcase at Wrigley Field this past July, and he quickly made an excellent first impression. Facing RHP Brennan Malone, a projected first-round pick, Abrams drove a fastball into the right-center field gap for a leadoff double. For the game, Abrams went 2-for-4 with a run scored and a steal.
When everything is going right, Abrams has a smooth left-handed swing that’s balanced and carries surprising pop. When he has a bad day, there is too much weight moving forward, and he appears to reach for pitches low and away. Sometimes it works as an infield hit because of his incredible speed down the first base line, but he’ll need to work on being more patient at the plate.
Velocity doesn’t appear to be a problem so Abrams should be good against the fastball. Abrams does wrap the bat a bit behind his head so if velocity does become an issue he can make an adjustment with his hands. Like most teenage prospects, I do worry how he’ll initially handle low breaking pitches and changeups.
If Abrams can make the necessary adjustments, I think he’s the type of hitter who can consistently hit 30+ doubles, 5+ triples, and 10+ home runs a season. I’m not sure how his OBP will look in the distant future as I don’t think he’ll walk a lot.
Abrams plus-plus athleticism gives him vast range from the shortstop position. Quickly covering ground balls with his backhand towards third base, and quick steps moving to his left to cover grounders hit towards second base. He does a good job tracking shallow fly balls hit into the outfield, which is why some believe that Abrams future is in center field.
Throwing accuracy is what Abrams needs to work on early in his professional career. Throwing slot is sidearm, if not lower, and Abrams can get in a bad habit of happy feet. At times doesn’t appear to be in full control of his body after fielding a grounder and then gets into trouble as he tries to make a throw on the run. Abrams just needs more consistency on these plays, and more repetition is required.
The Chicago White Sox appear to be set at shortstop with Tim Anderson at least until 2022. There are two club options for 2023 and 2024 that can be picked up covering Anderson’s age 30 and 31 seasons. However, in the case of injury or poor play, the White Sox next in line behind Anderson is . . . Laz Rivera? This farm system is still weak at the shortstop position.
Drafting Abrams third overall will test the White Sox new player development efforts. Possessing tremendous athleticism, Abrams will need refinement and the new coaches Chris Gretz has brought into the fold, like Matt Lisle, can help. With already having a long-term solution in the majors at shortstop means there is no need to rush Abrams as he can play full seasons at each level to sharpen skills. Another benefit is that if Luis Robert can’t stay healthy and if Nick Madrigal can’t develop enough power to merit starting every day, the White Sox would have another option at these critical positions.
However, Abrams ETA is realistically 2023, and if the team believes they are close, making the transition from rebuilder to contender drafting a high school shortstop will not help their short-term goals. Instead, Abrams would help the White Sox continue to stock prospects for the future beyond ETA 2022 adding him along with Bryce Bush. Looking at how Kannapolis and Winston-Salem are faring in 2019, this is a need for the White Sox.