I mentioned I was stumped when the Dodgers selected Atascocita HS, Texas, CF, Kendall George. I was but after 2nd thoughts, I was wondering why? One of my all-time ‘favorite all-time non-Dodger was St. Louis’ Willie McGee. Prototypical top of the order hitting CF. No power, but could run all day long and play an excellent defensive CF.
I still yearn for the days that up the middle players were generally contact first hitters, but elite defenders.
It sure seems like the Dodgers are taking a page out of the 80’s and 90’s game with defense and speed in CF. And you know what? I am okay with that. There were a lot of complaints that AF did not address how the game had changed due to the rule changes. With Billy Gasparino’s 1st 2023 draft pick, they changed that direction. I know the Dodgers and their computer minions will still rule when it comes to power over hit skills, but it was nice to see them take a chance on speed and contact.
The Athletic: NR
Baseball America: 114
MLB Pipeline: 65
Perfect Game: 108
Prospects Live: 55
Below is BA’s Scouting Report:
Tools: Hit: 50. Power: 30. Run: 80. Field: 60. Arm: 40.
George is a small and skinny, 5-foot-11, 165-pound outfielder, but what he lacks in size and power, he makes up for with quickness, explosiveness and some of the best pure speed in the 2023 draft class. He could hang in a foot race with almost anyone in the class and routinely turns in 80-grade run times in the 3.9-4.0-second range from home to first, and it’s not uncommon to see him post lower run times than that on jailbroken swings. While George won’t threaten to hit many balls over the fence, he’s a pesky and difficult hitter to get out, with a contact-oriented stroke from the left side and both a strong batting eye and bat-to-ball skills. He’s always a threat to lay down a bunt and is proficient in that area, and can slap the ball around to all fields effectively. The center fielder for Team USA’s gold medal-winning 18U National Team, George was second on the team with a .364 average, went 5-for-5 in stolen bases and also walked six times to just one strikeout. His elite speed gives him easy plus range in center field where he should be an impactful defender with below-average arm strength. While they have different body types, George could compare reasonably to 2023 classmate Enrique Bradfield Jr., an outfielder at Vanderbilt who shares a similar all-around profile, though George has a bit more strength and a bit less defensive polish compared to Bradfield at the same age.
What surprised most of us that follow the draft is where he was drafted. He was always considered a 2nd rounder at best. ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel wrote this:
His arm and power are both well below average and limit his upside, but it sounds like there’s lots of interested clubs in the second round.
Like most teams, the Dodgers have their top XXXX number of prospects they are looking at in the 1st round. This year’s draft pretty much went as expected with very few players ranked before #36 still around.
- #20 – Miami 3B – Yohandy Morales
- #30 – HS SS – Walker Martin
- #32 – HS SS – Sammy Stafura
- #33 – HS 2B – Kevin McGonigle
- #35 – Virginia 3B – Jake Gelof
- #36 – Virginia Tech OF – Jack Hurley (still available for Round 3)
The Dodgers had given George all indications they were planning on taking him with their second-round selection at pick No. 60. But with all other targets off the board, the Dodgers chose to make drafty George 24 slots earlier than they had planned.
It would appear that they wanted the potential of Kendall George more than the others rated around where they would be picking, and did not want to lose him. I am sure the thought process included a discussion that at least one of those above, and one of those in and around the #40 range they were linked to, would be available at #60. At least more likely than George. As it turns out, they were correct as they selected Virginia RH power hitting 3B, Jake Gelof.
Billy Gasparino said this about Kendall George:
“I think his contact skills are elite. His performance this summer was super impressive. He faced the best arms all summer and he hit and hit and hit and he didn’t miss and on top of that he can steal bases and play center field. It’s definitely the fastest runner we’ve drafted since I’ve been here and we think with the way the game is evolving, his ability to collect hits and steal bases will play very well.”
To emphasize Gasparino’s analysis, his senior numbers were impressive He hit .455 with three homers and 34 RBIs. He also had a .581 on-base percentage and a 1.296 OPS. Again to emphasize his base running and contact skills he stole 32 bases and only struck out eight times all season. That spells someone to take a chance on. You cannot teach that kind of game-changing speed.
George was ecstatic about being drafted at all, and then in the first round was extraordinary.
“It felt amazing,” George said on getting drafted. “It was a dream come true. Just from a young age, I’ve always wanted to be a professional baseball player and it’s just a dream not many people can live out. It’s a great feeling. It’s almost unexplainable.”
With the 36th pick of the 2023 MLB Draft, the Los Angeles Dodgers select Texas high school outfielder Kendall George. pic.twitter.com/Pd89ly8aMb
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) July 10, 2023
With the #60 pick, Gasparino selected University of Virginia power hitting 3B, Jake Gelof. Jake tops the University of Virginia career HR list.
The Athletic: 37
Baseball America: 40
MLB Pipeline: 35
Perfect Game: 70
Prospects Live: 56
If that name sounds familiar, Jake is the younger brother of Oakland’s #3 prospect, and #7 ranked 2B, Zach Gelof.
A right-handed-hitting corner infielder, Gelof does not get cheated at the plate. He has an aggressive approach, looking to do damage and tap into his huge raw power, especially to the pull side. Gelof takes big swings, but he showed an ability to get to his power in 2022, limit strikeouts, draw walks and make adjustments, even if some think he’ll be power-over-hit when all is said and done.
The jury is out over where Gelof will play defensively long-term. He has more than enough arm to stay at third and some feel he moves well enough to stick there, but he has seen time at first and some see a move across the infield in his future. Either way, it’s that power bat that gives him the chance to be an early pick in July.
Kiley McDaniel offered this:
Gelof is much easier to appreciate on first look: he has a pull and lift approach with plus raw power, so he’s often peppering the left-field wall. Scouts wonder if he’ll have to slide over to first base and if his swing/approach will work against better stuff.
BA’s scouting report:
Tools: Hit: 50. Power: 60. Run: 40. Field: 45. Arm: 50.
Gelof is the younger brother of former Virginia third baseman and current A’s prospect, Zack Gelof. Now following in his elder brother’s footsteps, Jake has been one of the best power hitters in program history. After setting a program record with five multi-homer games in 2022, Gelof became Virginia’s all-time home run leader in 2023, when he hit his 38th home run on April 11. After his second 20-plus homer season, Gelof is a career .329/.429/.684 hitter with 48 home runs and 46 doubles in 161 career games. Gelof is powerfully built at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds and pairs both strength and bat speed with an offensive operation that features a bit of pre-pitch bat wiggle, a moderate leg kick and a front side that tends to open up to the pull side. He’s a pull-happy hitter in general, and that’s where most of his in-game power production has gone, though he has more than enough raw power to homer to the opposite field, with a 91 mph average and 107 mph 90th-percentile exit velocity in 2023. Gelof is a power-over-hit offensive profile who will expand the zone and swing-and-miss at a sizable clip. He has an 18.9% career strikeout rate and also struggled with whiffs in the Cape Cod League and with Team USA’s trials roster in 2022. Gelof is a below-average runner and workman-like defender at third base, though he has average arm strength and has done a nice job on in-between plays and throwing on the run on difficult slow rollers.
Kendall George was considered a more than likely sign rather than attend University of Arkansas, but he gave away some leverage when he said he will “100 percent” be signing with the Dodgers and not attending college. It will be interesting to see if George signs for a below slot amount to accumulate for future picks. By saying that, maybe he knows what the Dodgers may be offering…2nd round money????
Gelof also figures to be a quick sign. I assume that Gelof will reach out to fellow U of VA alum, Chris Taylor.
My initial thought on Gelof is that he truly is a RHH version of Max Muncy. I think this comment sums it up best:
Gelof is a power-over-hit offensive profile who will expand the zone and swing-and-miss at a sizable clip. He has an 18.9% career strikeout rate and also struggled with whiffs in the Cape Cod League and with Team USA’s trials roster in 2022.
His defensive scouting grade also mirrors Max.
Gelof is a below-average runner and workman-like defender at third base, though he has average arm strength.
Scouts wanting to slide him over to 1B (like Muncy should), is also telling.
All that being said, as a 2nd round pick, they could have done far worse than a Max Muncy clone. I am looking forward to seeing that power unleashed. His power is more reliable than Kody Hoese or Brandon Lewis, two other 3B draft picks that are more 1B oriented and seem out of any prospect thought going forward.