2019 Draft Preview: CJ Abrams

We are writing prospect reports on players the White Sox might select in the June draft. This article is the fifth in our series. You can see the other reports we’ve already posted, here:

CJ Abrams

School: Blessed Trinity Catholic High School
Position: SS
Height/Weight: 6’1″ 180
B/T: L/R
D.O.B.: 10/03/2000
College Commitment: Alabama 

Scouting Reports:

CJ Abrams attends Blessed Trinity High School in Roswell, Georgia. BT is an Archdiocesan Catholic High School in Atlanta’s northern suburbs. It serves just over 1,000 students in grades 9-12. Blessed Trinity opened in August 2000, despite construction being halted by the discovery of a shallow grave of Confederate soldiers. The athletic programs have kept pace with the school’s overall growth. The school has won 45 state championships in 13 different sports since its inception including 2018 titles in football as well as boys and girls lacrosse. The Titans have produced big leaguers with White Sox’s connections in Tyler Flowers (Braves) and Matt Skole (Triple-A Charlotte) in addition to 2010 first round pick Jake Skole.

In 142 varsity baseball games, Abrams has hit .418 in nearly 550 plate appearances. He has reached base at a .482 clip as a senior with 3 homers and 25 extra base hits. CJ has compiled 193 hits in his high school career. He has driven in over 100 runs and has more than 56 extra base hits in his career. Over the course of those 142 contests, Abrams has a slugging percentage of .606% and has walked 50 times compared to 22 strikeouts. The speedster has also swiped over 100 bags in high school play.

Abrams was selected to play in the Perfect Game All American Classic this past year and looked like he belonged with the standout prep players in the country. CJ has been clocked at 6.29 seconds in the 60-yard dash and has posted a 10-yard split time of 1.49 as well. He also routinely runs sub 4.0’s from home plate to first base. The left handed hitter also played for USA Baseball with the 18U National Team. In 9 games at the COPABE U-18 Pan-American Championships, CJ slashed .297/.395/.324 with 8 runs driven in. The 18U National Team is a perennial power on the international baseball landscape and is comprised of the nation’s best players in the 16-18 year age range. The program has won 7 straight international tournament titles.

Abrams was named to the All Tournament Team for his play in centerfield. He had 11 hits and scored 14 runs during the tournament. While CJ plays shortstop for Blessed Trinity, he moved to the middle of the outfield to accommodate Texas prep Bobby Witt Jr. at shortstop. Current major league stars Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, Buster Posey and Freddie Freeman are some of the names that have played for this squad in the past. Abrams was also listed as a top 5 prospect at the East Coast Professional Showcase according to Jonathan Mayo of mlb.com. The showcase was created by major league scouts back in 1994 and provides prep players with the opportunity to compete against the best of their peers while being scouted and talked to by evaluators. Abrams went 2-12 at the plate during this showcase but his athleticism was on full display.

Abrams at USA Baseball NHSI courtesy of 2080 Baseball

Adams at the Perfect Game National Showcase from 2080 Baseball

Prospect Pipeline Video

Baseball America has CJ Abrams ranked as the #4 prospect in the 2019 draft class. The publication lists Abrams at 6’2″ and 180 pounds with his standout tool being his 80-grade speed. CJ regularly runs sub four second times from home to first. Baseball America notes that he was a unanimous first-team selection on the 2019 Pre-Season All-American Team and that scouts have been enamored with his “elite athleticism, running ability and bat to ball skills from the left side”. The publication also surmises that Abrams displays “impressive instincts and routinely gets solid jumps on the base paths”. He has a line drive oriented left-handed swing with tremendous feel to hit as well. He doesn’t possess much swing and miss in his game and projects as a “plus hitter”. The speedster needs work in regards to “pitch selection and developing a plan of attack and can get overaggressive and chase out of the zone at times”.

The report states that the Georgia prep standout has “below average raw power” at the moment but his improved strength projects to at least average power in the future with the chance to reach above average due to his “impressive hand-eye coordination and ability to barrel up baseballs in strong hitting environments”. He should produce plenty of extra base hits regardless due to his speed. His future defensive home is somewhat in question. He’s a “plus defender in centerfield” but has a chance to stick at shortstop because of his “quick footwork, plus range, solid glove work and adequate arm strength”. The report mentions that CJ will need to improve his throwing accuracy to remain on the infield dirt but projects as a potential table-setter with plus defensive capabilities at multiple premium positions.

CJ Abrams is listed as the #4 prospect in the 2019 draft class according to the group at mlbpipeline.com as well. They call him the best prospect to ever come out of Blessed Trinity High School. The publication also states that his “speed and athleticism” compare favorably to any of the top prep talents in the 2019 class and he’s one of the better hitters available. The report also lauds his “game-changing speed” and notes that he uses quickness to beat out bunts and grounders and has the instincts to develop into a premium base stealer. Abrams shows a “quick left-handed stroke and controls the bat very well”. He uses the entire field when hitting and makes consistent contact. Pipeline hypothesizes that his “bat speed and strength” could project to 10-15 home runs on an annual basis. The publication thinks that he may ultimately fit best as a second baseman or in centerfield but has the chance to stick at shortstop despite not having the most fluid actions at the position. The website compares Abrams to a young Dee Gordon but they note that he has “considerably more power” in his arsenal.

Scouting Grades:

Note: These Scouting Grades are from mlbpipeline.com. Baseball America has an 80-run grade on Abrams and some sites have 50 or even 60 grade raw power attached to him as well. 

Hit: 55
Power: 40
Run: 75
Arm: 55
Field: 50

Prospect Overview and Future Outlook:

CJ Abrams is one of the best players in the draft class and possesses tantalizing potential. Even in the winter, the Georgia product was seen as a top-ten lock and now he’s almost assuredly not going to be available to teams in the latter portion of the top-ten. Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of mlbpipeline.com have Abrams getting selected by the Chicago White Sox in the newest iterations of their mock projections. Carlos Collazo of Baseball America sends the lefty hitting speedster to the White Sox in his latest as well. Keith Law of ESPN.com projected Andrew Vaughn to the White Sox at #3 but noted Executive Vice President Kenny Williams’s affinity for Abrams. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs was the first to link CJ Abrams to the White Sox publicly but it’s been a pretty steady stream since. McDaniel even mentioned the possibility of the club signing Abrams to an under-slot agreement to potentially use the savings later in the draft.

Jim Callis has mentioned that the White Sox are placing an emphasis on adding “up-the-middle players” in this draft and it could be a reason why the Georgia prep has been mocked to the Pale Hose pretty universally of late. Unlike some of the recent draft picks by Hostetler and company, it’s nice that defensive concerns long-term still would place this player at a premium position rather than being relegated to an infield corner or designated hitter. Abrams doesn’t fit the mold of what has been a typical Sox selection lately but the organization is at a place in their rebuild where selecting a high school talent this high shouldn’t surprise anyone. Hostetler told James Fegan of The Athletic that last year’s draft showed some of the personality of the scouting department and he’s also spoken of his proclivity for prep players in the past. With the addition of multiple high upside prep bats in the 2018 class, a similar strategy with higher allocated resources involved could be on the docket for this year.

Scouting directors aren’t the most forthcoming executives in the month of May but Hostetler did join Matt Spiegel of 670 The Score on his Sunday staple “Hit and Run” recently. The executive didn’t give away any trade secrets as expected but he did speak glowingly of the Blessed Trinity infielder. Hostetler called Abrams a “premium athlete that has gotten stronger with an up the middle profile and plus-plus run grades”. CJ’s character and makeup was lauded by the scouting director as well. Abrams would immediately enter the top-5 of a really good White Sox farm system if selected and would likely begin his career with the AZL White Sox in rookie ball. The term “premium athlete” has been a lightning rod for southside fans who can’t quite extinguish some failures of the past but all 30 clubs are in unison on adding talent like this and the pick could end up being sound strategy for the Sox if executed.

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Filed under: Draft Coverage, Uncategorized

Tags: CJ Abrams

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