The Los Angeles Dodgers selected outfielder Jeren Kendall out of Vanderbilt with the No. 23 overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. Kendall was previously drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 30th round in 2014, but did not sign with the team.
The 21-year-old Florida native finished his junior season on Saturday, as the Commodores were eliminated from the College World Series after dropping a second game to Oregon State.
This is the third straight year the Dodgers have taken a Vanderbilt player in the first round. In 2015, they selected right-hander Walker Buehler with the 24th overall pick, and last year they drafted righty Jordan Sheffield with the 36th overall pick.
However, during a junior season in which he struck out 74 times in 63 games, scouts began to question Kendall’s ability to make contact and his draft stock started to fall.
An excellent athlete, Kendall is regarded as a double-plus runner and defensive center fielder. He stole 20 of 24 bases during the spring for Vanderbilt, and should make a difference both with the glove and on the basepaths.
The question is how much Kendall will hit. After batting .332 as a sophomore, his average dropped .025 points as a junior and he saw his strikeouts climb by 12 in the same amount of games (62).
However, this did come with an uptick in power production, as Kendall clubbed a career-high 15 home runs while adding 10 doubles.
Luckily, the Dodgers have begun to cultivate a reputation as an organization that can develop hitters. It could take a few minor adjustments, it could come down to retooling his entire swing. Whatever the plan is, the Dodgers could turn this pick into a steal.
You can listen to Jared on the weekly Dugout Blues Podcast