We have now entered July, which means the 2022 MLB Draft is quickly approaching. This year’s draft will take place on July 17 in Los Angeles, during the same week as the All-Star Game. After coming back for his senior year, Jud Fabian put up his best statistical season and showed off his high offensive upside. While Florida disappointed as a Regional host, Fabian could once again go in the top 40 picks.
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Jud Fabian, Outfielder, Florida
Weight: 180 lbs.
2019: 56 G, .232/.353/.411, 7 HR, 26 RBI, 32 R, 7 SB, 45 K, 28 BB
2020: 17 G, .294/.407/.603, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 8 R, 2 SB, 18 K, 13 BB
2021: 56 G, .257/.374/.584, 20 HR, 46 RBI, 51 R, 6 SB, 79 K, 40 BB
2022: 66 G, .239/.414/.598, 24 HR, 55 RBI, 63 R, 9 SB, 69 K, 62 BB
Fabian would have been a top prospect in the 2019 draft out of Trinity Catholic High School, but he decided to graduate early and enrolled at the University of Florida in January 2019. While the Florida centerfielder had an up-and-down college career, he still showed the potential to be a top talent at the next level. The senior outfielder was originally drafted with the 40th pick by the Boston Red Sox in last year’s draft, but the two sides couldn’t come to a contract agreement so he returned to school.
The potential with the bat is undoubtedly there, as he hits fastballs very well. His raw power has oozed out every season, as his home run total and OPS have gone up every season. When he makes contact, it has the chance to go a long way and the pitcher better watch his lips. The Ocala, Florida native also improved his plate discipline, having just seven more strikeouts than walks this past season. His 20 percent walk rate was a career-high. Fabian is strong in the field, as he is able to read the ball off the bat and track balls with the best of them, while also having a strong arm. He has the talent to be able to stick in center field in the pros. His plus speed also helps there and on the basepaths. Even though he won’t be seen stealing many bases, the threat is still there.
Fabian will certainly hit mistakes, but there are holes in his swing. Although he did improve his strikeout rate this season, it was still pretty high at 22.2 percent. He has a tremendous struggle adjusting to and staying back on offspeed pitches. When pitchers at the next level see that and how well he hits fastballs, he won’t get many to hit until he can adjust. Facing tough competition in the minor league ranks will be an adjustment, of course, and it might take Fabian a while until he is acclimated and continue to improve his swing-and-miss tendencies.
Pro Comparison: Byron Buxton
The Minnesota Twins center fielder has finally started to break out the last few seasons for the Twins after they drafted him second overall in the 2012 draft. He came out of Appling County High School in Baxley, Georgia, and has had a lot of swing-and-miss in his game as well. Buxton always has had five-tool potential but took a while to adjust to big-league pitching. Fabian doesn’t have the blazing speed that Buxton has, but all the other tools are pretty much at the same level. If he can continue improving his swing and adjust to the breaking stuff, Fabian could develop and break out quicker than Buxton.
Draft Projection: Early Second Round
With the raw power breaking out this season and the strikeout to walk ratio improving, Fabian could potentially sneak into the first round. He is a very toolsy prospect with a high ceiling still at just 21 years old. A team could go under slot with him in the first round. Possibly a team like the Baltimore Orioles at pick 33, who went under slot with Heston Kjerstad at the second overall pick in the 2020 Draft. While 33 isn’t too far below his ranking, MLB Pipeline has Fabian ranked as the 38th best draft prospect.
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