Robert Hassell: Padres 2021 Minor League Player Of The Year
As he returned to the dugout following his second home run of the day at High-A Fort Wayne, Robert Hassell delivered a bold proclamation to catcher Brandon Valenzuela.
“I’ve got one more," he said. "My game’s not over yet.”
The 20-year-old outfielder might have been joking, but he certainly had reason for confidence as he entered the final weeks of his first full season in pro ball, especially given his strides to drop the bat head on inside pitches and yank them to right field.
To wit, two of his three home runs on Sept. 1 cleared the fence in right, continuing a power surge that saw the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Hassell collect seven of his 11 homers over the last two months of the season between Low-A Lake Elsinore and Fort Wayne.
Beyond those gains, it was Hassell’s baseball IQ, athletic prowess as a center fielder, threat on the bases (34 stolen bases) and all-fields approach that produced a .302/.393/.470 batting line in 110 games that has the organization raving.
“I think the way that that kid’s mind works and the way he thinks about hitting and sees the game,” Padres senior farm director Ryley Westman said, “it’s always impressive to hear what comes out of his mouth and how he’s preparing and what his focus is."
Hassell’s end-of-season self evaluation, Westman said, included an acknowledgment of inflated strikeout numbers as he tried to get too big.
That kind of self-awareness is one reason the Padres didn’t think twice about immediately assigning Hassell to the alternate training site after drafting him eighth overall last year out of Independence High in Thompson's Station, Tenn., and inviting him to big league camp the following spring, where he learned to adapt while facing advanced arms.
“I think I started to build a little confidence off those really, really tough arms and even some of the big league arms,” Hassell said.
— Among the prospects on the Padres' instructional league roster were lefthander MacKenzie Gore and shortstop CJ Abrams. Gore is expected to continue to keep his arm in shape ahead of his likely assignment to the Arizona Fall League. Abrams is continuing to work his way back from the fractured left tibia and sprained MCL in his knee that ended his season at Double-A San Antonio in late June.
— Catcher Luis Campusano missed all of September with an oblique injury. He hit .295/.365/.541 with 15 home runs and 45 RBIs in 81 games with Triple-A El Paso.