Usually when the term five-tool player is attached to a prospect at least one of those tools tend to outshine the others. In the case of Cole Roederer that may not be the case as most scouts attach 50-55 grades across the board. He isn't big but thanks to some tweaks to his swing as a senior Roederer began translating his considerable bat speed into in-game power, all while battling a hamstring injury. It caught the eye of UCLA and more importantly the Cubs, who eventually choose the young outfielder with a supplemental 2nd round pick and signed him to a $1M bonus.
Roederer became an immediate star in the AZL after signing. He began his career with a 12-game on-base streak. He'd cool off a bit after the initial stretch but still finished with 5 home runs and 13 stolen bases in just 36 games.
#Cubs Prospect Thread: OF Cole Roederer
Not a big guy, Roederer rose to early round draft consideration this season despite battling injury by reworking his swing to translate his considerable bat speed into in-game power. He now regularly draws comparisons to Andrew Benintendi. pic.twitter.com/V51joj4h3J
— Michael Ernst (@mj_ernst) February 9, 2019
I mentioned that scouts don't consider Roederer to possess a standout tool but what is encouraging is Roederer managed to contribute in every facet of the game all in his initial exposure to pro ball. He hit homer runs. He stole bases. He drew walks. He hit for average. He played a solid centerfield. That is very unusual combination for a teenager in his debut season. It means all of his tools are translating already which provides him with a solid foundation to build upon moving forward in his career.
Roederer did run into stretches where his K rate sky rocketed. Overall, his production was streaky. But we are obviously talking about a young player in a very small sample size so none of that is overly concerning. If there is a negative to Roederer's game it is that some scouts worry he may end up fringy in centerfield as he fills out, and there are some concerns whether his arm is ideal for this position. I haven't seen anyone declare that Roederer will be forced off center but the consensus seems that left is going to end up his best position.
Roederer regularly draws comparisons to Andrew Benintendi. Even if Roederer ends up only a fringy defender in center his bat should carry him as an offense-first option there or as a viable starter in left.
We'll see if Roederer can earn a spot with South Bend out of Spring Training. If he shows he is ready the Cubs won't hesitate, but it should be noted that the Cubs have a number of athletic outfielders (Velazquez, Herron, Artis, Americaan, Sierra, Kelli) that are a bit older than Roederer vying for a spot in that same outfield, and that isn't even including fellow prep 2nd rounder Brennen Davis.
I wouldn't be shocked if Roederer forced his way into the mix or if the Cubs keep him back in EXST for a while as they wait for some of that logjam to clear up. Velazquez and Sierra both have a high upside as well and likely have the inside track for the starting corner outfield jobs. So much will depend on Jimmy Herron and D.J. Artis as both will also compete to open in Myrtle Beach so if one or both make it would open the centerfield competition up to Roederer, Americaan and Kelli.