With the 2022 MLB Amateur Draft approaching on July 17, we will continue taking looks at some potential draft prospects for the Royals at #9. I last wrote about Jacob Berry, a switch-hitting DH type that looks like one of the best pure hitters available. Today we’ll look in a different direction. The Royals have a history of taking under-slot guys when picking towards the back of the top 10, taking Frank Mozzicato last year at #7 and Hunter Dozier at #8 in 2013. Should they choose to do so again this year, here is another guy that they could look to target for an under-slot deal: Florida center fielder and a rare righty-hitter/lefty-thrower, Jud Fabian.
Fabian, listed at 6’1” and 195 lbs, hails from Ocala, FL. Fabian had an illustrious prep career at Trinity Catholic HS that culminated in a 2018 Florida High School All-State Team selection and participation in the 2018 Under Armour All-American Game at Wrigley Field and the Perfect Game All-American Game at Petco Park in San Diego. In January 2019, Fabian skipped his senior season and enrolled at the University of Florida.
As a freshman, Fabian had an unremarkable season for a Gators team that fell short of preseason expectations. He played 56 games in center field and slashed .232/.353/.411, hitting seven homers while striking out in 21.7% of his plate appearances. Fabian went on to play in the Cape Cod League that summer and performed well, playing 35 games and slashing .290/.350/.500 with six homers, though strikeouts were still a problem with a 26.3% K rate.
Prior to the Covid shutdown in 2020, Fabian got off to a torrid start. In 17 games, he slashed .294/.407/.603, bashing six doubles and five homers while striking out 22.2% of the time. He followed that up with another strong season in summer ball, playing 19 games in the Florida Collegiate Summer League and slashing .304/.484/.522, striking out 21.9% of the time.
Expectations were high for Fabian and the Gators entering the 2021 season. He was a preseason first-team All-American and was widely expected to be one of the top college bats available in the 2021 MLB Draft. The Gators were the consensus #1 ranked team entering the season. Both disappointed. In 59 games in center field, Fabian slashed .249/.364/.560. He bashed 20 homers, but his strikeout rate ballooned to 29.4%. His performance was still enough to earn third-team All-American and first-team All-SEC honors. Florida still played well enough to host a regional as the #14 national seed, but they were swiftly bounced, losing to South Florida and South Alabama. Fabian went 0-8 with three strikeouts in the two losses. In that summer’s draft, Boston would select Fabian 40th overall, but he elected to not sign and return to Florida for another season.
In 2022, Fabian put together his finest offensive season, playing in 66 games and slashing .239/.414/.598 and bashing 24 homers. He cut his strikeout rate to 22.2%, closer to his pre-2021 levels, while walking a career high 20% of the time. Florida disappointed as a regional host once again, losing twice to Oklahoma. In five postseason games, Fabian went 3-19 with two homers, three walks, and eight strikeouts.
While Fabian hoped to raise his draft stock in 2022, he still generally projects as a second round pick. Here are some of his prospect rankings:
- D1Baseball ($): 25th (among college prospects)
- MLB.com: 38th
- ESPN ($): 20th
- Prospects Live: 33rd
- The Athletic ($): 39th
Fabian is very much a boom-or-bust type of prospect. As the 24 homers show, the plus raw power is real.
Jud Fabian just hit a ball over the damn grass. The casual no-look I don’t need this anymore because that ball was destroyed and I know it flip. Cocky but clean as hell. (BFG: 8.3) @GatorsBB pic.twitter.com/fBlV9qKNrc— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) March 3, 2022
Jud Fabian to the Red Sox in the 2nd round.— Mike Monaco (@MikeMonaco_) July 12, 2021
Big upside. Homered twice off Jack Leiter in a span of two ABs earlier this year.pic.twitter.com/Sr4gjKwoac
Though he isn’t the fastest guy, he can absolutely go get it in center field. He put on a defensive clinic against Oklahoma in the regionals.
Florida’s Jud Fabian with TWO ridiculous catches today in centerfield!— Farm To Fame (@FarmToFame_) June 6, 2022
The 21-year-old is a projected second round draft pick this summer pic.twitter.com/D1qMvaxo0t
Here’s Jud Fabian making ridiculous plays in the outfield for two minutes straight. pic.twitter.com/s5Ftzr73U3— (@mason_mcrae) May 9, 2022
The hit tool, however, is a real concern. Though he did improve on his strikeout rate this season, it’s still very high relative to other highly rated college hitters. His .239 average this year was also his lowest since his freshman season, and he only hit .246 overall in his four collegiate seasons.
Fabian seems like a very Royals type draft prospect: high ceiling, very toolsy with questions about his hit tool. Elite defensive center fielder, can work a walk, big power, swing-and-miss concerns... who does that remind you of? I see shades of Brett Phillips. As Tampa has shown, when deployed correctly, Phillips is a useful player on a winning ballclub. That’s a good piece to have, but the Royals better have something big lined up later in the draft if they go this route.
What do you think of Jud Fabian under-slot at #9? (assuming the Royals have strong picks lined up later in the draft)
This poll is closed
The Royals will screw up his development anyway, who cares, enjoy Arby’s