Over the next couple weeks leading up to the 2021 MLB Amateur Draft, Sports Info Solutions will be publishing a series of scouting reports from three of our Video Scouts for the top-10 collegiate draft prospects and five honorable mentions. Each player is graded by the 20-80 scouting scale, given a comprehensive evaluation, and assigned a floor and a ceiling comparison, which indicate–if a player makes the Major Leagues–the range of the type of player into which he can develop./
JUD FABIAN, OF
|College||University of Florida (Sophomore, 2021)|
|Bio||R/L 6-2, 190 lbs.|
|Date of Birth||Date of Birth: 9/27/2000|
Written by Adam Lan
Early college career
Fabian is a 5-tool prospect who was thrust into the spotlight in Florida at a young age. Eligible to be drafted in 2019, Fabian, a lefthanded throwing, righthanded hitting outfielder instead chose to graduate high school early and enroll at the University of Florida in January 2019. Starting 54 games in center field as a true freshman, Fabian hit .232 with 7 home runs and 26 RBI, while tying for the team lead with 28 walks and 7 stolen bases.
Though prone to striking out, Fabian exhibited strong on-base skills early on with a .353 OBP and 28 walks (against 45 strikeouts). Eager to build off his uneven freshman campaign, Fabian was off to a torrid start in 2020 showcasing the full range of tools that have scouts lining up to watch him play. The power, patience, and burgeoning hit tool were all in sync, as Fabian was hitting .294 with 2 SB and a team leading 5 HR and 13 RBI in just 17 games before the season was cut short due to Covid-19. While the strikeouts (18 of them) remained high, the OBP jumped up to .407 thanks to 13 walks.
The accolades followed his incredible 2020 start, as Fabian was a unanimous Preseason First Team All-American, Preseason All-SEC First Team outfielder and ranked No. 5 in Baseball America’s Preseason top 150.
However like many other athletes, Fabian was not immune to a rocky start once actual games resumed in 2021. Fabian, who has had a tendency to hunt fastballs and struggle with breaking balls, actually struggled to catch up to fastballs up in the zone versus elite competition the first month of the 2021 season, going 1-for-13 with 7 strikeouts vs Miami in the opening days of the season and 0-for-13 with 11 strikeouts vs South Carolina a month later.
Shortly after the South Carolina series however, everything began to click and Fabian began destroying fastballs and everything else in his path, flashing the tools that had many scouts believing he would be the first collegiate bat off the board in the 2021 Draft.
From April 2 to May 14, Fabian reached base safely in 23 consecutive games, batting .304/.441/.759. Fabian would go on to be named a 2021 Third Team All-American and to the All-SEC First Team, as well as the All-SEC Defensive Team. Fabian’s most prominent tool, his power, came to the forefront as well, as he became just the fifth player in the history of the University of Florida to hit 20 home runs in a season. Fabian finished the year with a .249/.364/.560 overall slash line to go along with 51 runs, 46 RBI, 6 SB. He had 79 strikeouts but also had 40 walks.
While he certainly hasn’t had the most conventional trajectory, starting his collegiate career early and lacking a full, uninterrupted season coupled with the usual off season development, we can look to his success in the Cape Cod league the summer after his freshman season to see how his immense skill set might translate to professional baseball. Fabian’s plus power and above average pitch recognition propelled him to a .290/.350/.500 line hitting 6 home runs in 35 games as an 18-year-old playing against players who on average were two years older than him. It was this eye opening performance that really put Fabian on the map and showcased his complete tool set .
While predominantly a pull hitter, Fabian’s swing, and power, plays to all fields. His fluid swing helps him to generate easy power and his quick hands allow him to turn on pitches inside, but while he has the ability to cover most of the zone, he has struggled with pitches high and in.
Fabian’s willingness to steal a base and above-average speed give him the ability to approach double digit in steals as he makes the transition to full-season professional ball. In addition to his offense, Fabian’s athleticism shows up in the field as well. He’s an above-average defender in center field, consistently taking good routes to the ball with the ability to make highlight-reel plays due to his exceptional reads off the bat. If he does get bumped off center by a more physically gifted defender, he would excel in either corner due to his accurate arm and quick release.
Possessing every tool in the tool box, Fabian is a safe bet (or as safe as they come) to have some sort of major league career. His power and defense are the carrying tools, as he should be able to hit 25 home runs and play above-average defense. However, his ceiling will ultimately be determined by his hit tool and his propensity to strike out.
Potential 5-tool outfielder with plus power.
Ceiling: Mitch Haniger
Floor: Stephen Piscotty
Draft Expectation: Mid-Late 1st Round Pick