The first seven picks of the 2020 MLB Draft went by without any high school players coming off the board. There was little chance that it would stay that way after eighth pick.
The Padres took Independence High School (Tenn.) outfielder Robert Hassell III, continuing their trend of picking prep standouts in the first round. AJ Preller's team hasn't selected a college product in the first round since 2016, when they picked Cal Quantrill and Eric Lauer.
They continued that trend, selecting right handed pitcher Justin Lange out of Texas.
In this instance they selected a player regarded as the best pure hitter in the 2020 crop of high school talent. The 18-year-old hit .423 in his last full season as a junior, with 14 home runs, eight doubles, 22 stolen bases and 36 RBI from the left side of the plate. The two-time Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year also went 5-2 with a 1.07 ERA on the mound, putting up nearly two strikeouts per inning.
The 6-foot-2-inch 190-pound outfielder's productivity is no surprise when you see his swing. It's sweet.
Hassell committed to playing his college ball at Vanderbilt prior to the draft. Aside from the impressive tools he demonstrated on the baseball field, he also turned some heads when he showed off his athleticism with a windmill dunk.
His resume also includes a trip to the Little League World Series in 2014. That experience was particularly memorable in part because of who his team faced. His South Nashville squad got shutout by LLWS pitching phenom Mo'ne Davis. Padres General Manager AJ Preller said that Hassell had been on the team's radar since his freshman season.
Lange, on the other hand, is a late bloomer. The 6-foot-4-inch righty saw his velocity jump from the low 90s less than a year ago, to triple digits ahead of the draft.
The Draft will continue with rounds two through five on Thursday.