Remember the profile on Zac Veen, when it was said it was hard to argue there was a higher potential power prospect from the left side? Well, the one guy who has the tools to challenge Veen in the power department is 18-year-old OF Austin Hendrick from West Allegheny, PA. Scouts graded the 13th-best prospect according to MLB.com with one of the highest power scores in his draft class (60). The potential is through the roof for this Mississippi State commit if he can figure out consistency at the plate.
In terms of bat speed and hand quickness, Austin Hendrick is as elite as they come. His launch angle off the bat is very noticeable when you watch every swing he takes. The ball really pops off his bat with the leverage his swing generates from the left side. We are talking about the definition of raw power here when he connects.
According to Perfect Game, Hendrick has been clocked with a ridiculous exit velocity of 105 MPH. Meanwhile, his FB Velocity was 89 MPH with his OF Velocity coming in at 93 MPH. The arm strength coming from the outfield is admirable, to say the least, with quality speed that could keep him in centerfield. This is an advantage he has over Veen, who will likely have to move to a corner outfield spot due to a lack of range.
Let’s keep the Veen comparisons going and talk about some physical dimensions. At 6’0″ 195, Hendrick outweighs Veen already despite being four inches shorter. This is a player who has plenty of room to grow both physically and fundamentally. If he can get a handle on his strikeouts, which resulted in the lower hitting score (50), Hendrick’s ceiling is limitless.
As was just mentioned, the biggest flaw to this Pittsburgh native’s game is the same as the MLB’s as a whole. Sacrificing strikeouts at the expense of big-time home run numbers. Hendrick’s lofty swing is ideal for generating power numbers but leaves a lot to be determined in terms of consistency. He will need to find a balance between the two during his development in the minor leagues.
The Perfect Game All-American and member of Team USA reached those accolades for a reason. He is an elite hitter. However, there are major mechanical changes that could be coming once a Major League team gets their hands on him. Then again, scouts said the same about the likes of Joey Gallo and Daniel Vogelbach in the past.
Despite the two names just discussed due to their swing flaws when they came up, Hendrick’s comp is going another direction. The first name that comes to mind in screaming fashion, is Michael Conforto of the New York Mets. At 6’1″ 215, their measurables are extremely comparable. Conforto came up as a left-handed middle-of-the-order slugger and has been a 30 home run guy since. If he has one gripe to his game, it is, of course, strikeout numbers and consistency.
Mechanically, there’s also quite a bit of Joc Pederson in Austin Hendrick. With that lofty uppercut swing from the left side that leaves the potential for 40 home run seasons and also 150 plus strikeouts. At 6’1″ 220, they are once again similar in size with Hendrick clearly having room to grow in the future.
If you’re a team sitting there in the middle of the first round looking for a raw, power bat to develop in the minor leagues, Hendrick is the guy. He is going to fall to some very lucky team if others pass on him due to the fear of strikeouts. However, in today’s baseball world, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all if a team in the top ten snagged Hendrick as their power project.
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