Cornelius Randolph knew he had a lot to work on in his second full season of pro ball in the Phillies system. But after a first year that saw him finish with a .264/.347/.343 line for a pedestrian .690 OPS, it's the numbers 68 and 254 from his 2016 season he really wanted to improve.
Those were his games played and at-bats, as a shoulder injury knocked the Phillies' No. 12 prospect out for two months. So more than anything else, the 20-year-old outfielder wanted to stay on the field from April until September.
"That was big for me, just stay healthy," Randolph said. "Whatever numbers I put up, I put up. Just stay healthy, give myself the chance to have a full season.
"I started eating a lot healthier. I started getting in, making sure I was taking care of my body with tissue prep and things like that, getting stretched out every day. I was doing everything to make sure I was avoiding any soft tissue injuries."
Mission accomplished. Randolph played in 122 games and collected 440 at-bats while playing the entire year in the Class A Advanced Florida State League. While the outfielder undoubtedly wants to improve his strikeout rate (24.5 percent) and hit for a higher average (.250), he did draw walks at a greater clip and more than doubled his career home run total with the 13 balls he hit out in the pitching-friendly FSL. Perhaps more than anything, he started to grasp who he is as a hitter.
"I think I did pretty well," Randolph said. "I'm maturing, learning more about myself, what I can and can't do. That was the main thing.
"Fastballs up. I'm not going to get to it, so stop chasing it. I need to learn I can't hit that changeup down, so just lay off of it."
At the same time, Randolph continues to get more comfortable in the outfield. He was a shortstop in high school, but the Phillies moved him to left field right after signing and that part of his game is moving in the right direction as well.
"I feel like I'm getting better out there," Randolph said. "I'm still working every day, I still have things to work on, like crisper routes, arm strength, working on those things, making sure I'm becoming a complete outfielder."
The Arizona Fall League is a perfect place to continue to work on all facets of his game, not to mention continue to get those all-important reps. So when the Phillies asked him to head there to play for the Glendale Desert Dogs, Randolph was all in.
"I was excited," Randolph said. "I'm getting to play with all the best prospects in the game, getting to meet new people, playing against good competition. What can you not like about it?"
Phillies hitters in the Fall League
Edgar Cabral, C -- An 11th-round pick of the Phillies out of San Antonio College in 2015, Cabral has moved slowly, but he did earn a promotion from the South Atlantic League to the Florida State League in 2017. He hit .310/.379/.440 in 24 games following the promotion. He also threw out better than 48 percent of would-be basestealers for the year.
Zach Green, 3B/1B -- Injuries have severely hampered Green's development since he was the Phillies' third-round pick in 2012. He's yet to play more than 100 games in a year, including just 57 during the 2017 season. He did reach Double-A Reading for the first time, though he hit just a combined .227/.291/.424 for the year.
Phillies pitchers in the Fall League
Trevor Bettencourt, RHP -- After two years at Tennessee, Bettencourt transferred to UC-Santa Barbara and landed in the 25th round of the 2016 Draft. In his first full season of pro ball in the Phillies system, he pitched across both levels of A ball, finishing with a 2.61 ERA and 10 saves in 13 tries while holding hitters to a .207 batting average and striking out 11.8 per nine (vs. just 1.4 BB/9).
Garrett Cleavinger, LHP -- Cleavinger's first full season of pro ball with the Orioles in 2016 was a solid one, but he didn't back it up with the move to Double-A in 2017 and he was dealt to the Phillies at the deadline as part of the Jeremy Hellickson deal. He did strike out a combined 9.8 per nine, but he saw his walk rate tick up to 5.3.
Elneiry Garcia, LHP -- The Phillies' No. 18 prospect was poised to make the leap to Double-A full-time in 2017 when an 80-game suspension for a performance-enhancing drug derailed his progress. He did return to make five starts with Reading, posting a 1.75 ERA and a .193 BAA, though he walked 17 and struck out just 10 in 25 2/3 innings. He's making up for some of those lost innings this fall.
J.D. Hammer, RHP -- The Rockies drafted Hammer in the 24th round of the 2016 Draft after a ho-hum college career as a starter. They put him in the bullpen and he had pitched his way from low A to high A when he was sent to the Phillies in the Pat Neshek deal. The Phillies' No. 30 prospect has back-end-reliever potential and threw extremely well (0.57 ERA, .154 BAA, 2 BB, 20 K in 15 2/3 IP) following the trade.