In a draft filled with upper tier shortstop candidates, Brady McConnell has some of the loudest tools. He also has some of the most glaring flaws, making him a fascinating candidate to watch going forward.
Brady McConnell 2019 MLB Draft Profile
McConnell is easy to overlook in a crowded shortstop class. He will always be compared to Bobby Witt, Bryson Stott and the other shortstops of this class. He was drafted back in 2017, so he has been on the major league radar for a while.
Brady McConnell had an intriguing sophomore season at Florida. He slashed a fantastic .332/.385/.576 with 15 home runs, 11 doubles, and 48 RBI. MLB.com gives McConnell above-average marks with the bat, as a runner, and with his arm.
With 26 extra-base hits in 229 at-bats and a .332 batting average, McConnell’s hit tool and raw power are readily visible. While he only stole 5 bases in 2019, he also has a very strong 60 grade as a runner, which will serve him well both on the basepaths and in the field. Even if he does not profile as a base stealer, there is a lot of value to be had in the ability to go first to third or to score from first on a double.
In the event that he sticks at shortstop, his 55-grade arm should be able to handle the job. A decent arm combined with quick feet should allow him good range at whatever position he plays. If he is forced to move off of short, there is enough power in his bat to profile well at corner infield or outfield, and potentially enough speed to move to center field if necessary. McConnell should have enough tools to find a position.
The first glaring weakness to McConnell’s game is his plate discipline. While his overall slash line is sparkling, the underlying numbers of 57 strikeouts to 17 walks are not. A gap that wide suggests that either McConnell has trouble with pitch recognition or he has to absolutely sell out to tap into his power. Either is a weakness that teams and pitchers will target as he moves up the ladder.
McConnell’s second weakness is even more concerning. For all of his tools, he was just shy of awful in the field in 2019 with a team-high 15 errors, more than twice the total of any other player. Those 15 errors came in only 211 chances, leading to a .929 fielding percentage that scouting grades suggest is not a fluke. For all that McConnell has four above-average tools, his fielding grade is a fringe-average 45.
In order to stick at shortstop, McConnell’s fielding will need to improve drastically. If he can stay at short, he can get by with a lesser offensive profile. If he is forced to move off of short, that puts even more pressure on his bat moving forward.
In terms of offensive upside, Troy Tulowitzki did not display great plate discipline in college, but his power and contact skills carried him offensively while that improved. Tulowitzki was also a much better defender than McConnell has shown thus far. At the other extreme, Marcus Semien was an awful shortstop early in his career and was able to put in the work to turn it around and put up competent numbers on both sides of the ball. Brady McConnell has a lot of work to do, but there’s enough talent for someone to believe he’s worth it.
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