Continuing our series of 2016 MLB Draft profiles, we turn our attention to the college hitting ranks with a look at Vanderbilt University outfielder Bryan Reynolds.
A high school player from Brentwood, Tennessee, Reynolds wasn't drafted coming out as a senior in 2013; scouts were certainly aware of him but he was committed to Vanderbilt and was raw enough that teams didn't want to buy him away from school.
He proved more polished than anticipated, quickly seizing a regular job as a freshman, hitting .338/.395/.480 in 2014 while contributing 14 steals with a 23/49 BB/K ratio in 281 at-bat for the National Champion Commodores. His sophomore year was very similar: .318/.388/.462 with 17 steals in 286 at-bats, 31/67 BB/K. Hitting like that for a premium program put him in the spotlight heading into the wooden bat Cape Cod League and he didn't disappoint, hitting .346/.470/.395 last summer with three steals and a sharp 17/14 BB/K in 81 at-bats.
Reynolds has capped off his college career with an even better junior season: .335/.462/.615. He's already knocked a career-best 13 homers while showing an improved approach at the plate compared to past years, with 46 walks to his credit. Strikeouts remain fairly high with 57 whiffs but the production is undeniable.
Listed at 6-2, 210, Reynolds is a switch-hitter and natural right-handed thrower. His physical tools are more steady than excellent. His running speed is average to a tick above, reports pegging him anywhere from 50 to 55 depending on the source. He uses that speed very well, is a steal threat on the bases, and has handled center field without trouble this spring, playing errorless ball and showing good range. His arm is not a cannon and he may wind up in left field if he loses a step with age, but if he hits as expected that's OK.
Reynolds should hit. As with his running speed, his raw power isn't exceptional but he gets to it frequently thanks to a keen batting eye and a refined swing. The only real critique you can make is that his strikeout rate is a bit higher than ideal, but it certainly hasn't hampered him in any way. He had no problems with wooden bats in the Cape Cod League and has shown more pop this spring; the consensus seems to be that this is not a result of aluminum. Long-term he should hit for average with a high OBP and at least moderate power.
Overall, Reynolds is regarded as one of the safer selections in the draft and one who can reach the majors quickly. While such players are often knocked for having "low ceilings," Reynolds should not be under-estimated. He's done nothing but thrive against top-quality competition the last three years.
Most sources are projecting him in the back half of the first round or in the compensation rounds but it would not be a surprise to see him go sooner than that, maybe much sooner if he cuts an under-slot deal.