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2017 MLB Draft Profile: Stuart Fairchild, OF, Wake Forest University

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Stuart Fairchild’s combination of speed, power, and defense should make him an early pick in the 2017 MLB Draft.

Continuing our series of 2017 MLB Draft Profiles, we switch back to the college hitter ranks with a look at Wake Forest University outfielder Stuart Fairchild.

THE BASICS

Stuart Fairchild is from Seattle, Washington, and could have been a top five rounds pick in the 2014 draft were it not for his strong academics and commitment to Wake Forest University. Instead he lasted until the 38th round where he was selected by the Washington Nationals.

He didn’t sign, made his way to college, then hit .349/.429/.497 as a freshman in 2015. His 2016 sophomore season wasn’t quite as good, .293/.403/.470, and he struggled somewhat during the ‘16 Cape Cod League (.232/.323/.330, seven walks, 29 strikeouts in 112 at-bats).

2017 has been his best season yet: .350/.430/.602 with 13 homers, 16 steals, 26 walks, 46 strikeouts in 226 at-bats.

Fairchild is listed at 6-0, 205, a right-handed hitter and thrower born March 17th, 1996.

STRENGTHS

Fairchild offers an intriguing set of physical tools, notably above-average 60-grade speed that he uses very well on the bases and in the outfield. He is an extremely reliable defensive outfielder, making only four errors in his entire college career, while showing the range and instincts to handle center field. Arm strength grades range from 45 to 55 depending on the source, but all agree that the arm is accurate.

As a hitter Fairchild is strong enough to hit for substantial power and has done so this spring, setting career-best marks in home runs and slugging percentage. He’s shown some willingness to work counts and if everything works out he could be a multi-category contributor with speed, power, OBP, and defense. His makeup and intelligence are also positives.

WEAKNESSES

Fairchild’s feel for the strike zone can vary and contact could be an issue at higher levels. He did not hit especially well with wooden bats in the Cape Cod League last summer and his swing mechanics were questioned. Reports have been more positive this spring and he’s been showing his power much more consistently, although with a decline in walks and a slight increase in strikeouts.

OVERALL PROJECTION

Fairchild has first-round tools but was viewed as more of a second or third rounder when the college season due to questions about his ability to hit with wood. His strong spring has moved his hitting stock up and his defense stands out.

Right now he’s generally being mocked as a supplemental or early second round pick, but given the paucity of college bats this year it would not be a surprise if he went earlier than that. A team that likes the adjustments he’s made this spring could be tempted to choose him in the back half of the first round.

Here’s more than four minutes of highlights with some focus on his defense.