J.J. Bleday Or Hunter Bishop? Scouting The Top 2019 College Outfielders
Teams shopping for an impact college position player at the top of the draft this year are in luck, from Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman and California first baseman Andrew Vaughn at the top of the board to Baylor catcher Shea Langeliers and Nevada-Las Vegas shortstop Bryson Stott rounding out the top 10 draft prospects.
But it’s a pair of lefthanded-hitting outfielders ranked in the middle of the top 10 we will focus on here. Either Vanderbilt right fielder J.J. Bleday or Arizona State center fielder Hunter Bishop will be the first college outfielder picked.
Bishop has louder tools and plays a more valuable defensive position, but Bleday has a lengthier track record of success in the Southeastern Conference (career .324 hitter) and in the Cape Cod League (.311 last year). Bishop struggled for his first two seasons at ASU and hit just .223 on the Cape.
Here we break down Bleday versus Bishop tool by tool, using projected future grades.
Scouts believe Bleday can be an above-average to plus hitter despite a swing that is a bit unorthodox—but it works for him when combined with his balance and sound approach. He has traded some contact for power this year. Until this year, Bishop confounded scouts with ordinary performance despite having a sweet swing and above-average bat speed. This year he has been more aggressive, attacking hittable pitches early in counts and showing solid plate coverage and vastly improved contact ability.
Bleday and Bishop were battling for the national home run title. Scouts are more confident in Bishop’s power projection going forward, with his power earning consistent plus grades and more than a few 70s. Bleday has intriguing all-fields power. He demonstrated he can drive the ball out the other way this year after pitchers stopped challenging him inside.
Bishop is a borderline plus runner who has a chance to stay in center field. Bleday is a below-average runner who earns 30s from some scouts.
Bishop’s above-average athleticism and speed play in center field, giving him the edge.
Bleday’s throwing accuracy in right field helps his arm play up. Bishop has shown an average arm this spring after rarely letting loose on throws in 2018.