|C. Randolph, Image- Jay Floyd|
As he deals with growing pains involved with being a professional baseball player, Phillies outfield prospect Cornelius Randolph falls into that more common classification.
Randolph, the 10th overall draft choice in 2015 out of Griffin High School in GA, has progressed at a solid pace despite battling against opposition that is usually older and more seasoned.
At 20-years-old, Randolph, who goes by just "C" for short, is one of the youngest players in the Double-A Eastern League and, statistically, that inexperience is clear. Through 25 contests, the lefty hitter has notched a .182 batting average with four doubles, a home run and five RBI.
Plenty of fans watching box scores and stat lines for the talented youngster have formed harsh opinions, often asserting, prematurely, that Randolph is a bust.
A recent tweet by Randolph, which stated, "I got confidence in myself and that’s all I need" almost seemed prompted by critics and haters.
Randolph, who expected the adversity that's been presented at the Double-A level, denied that notion.
"I honestly don't look at that stuff," Randolph said. "If you tag me in it, then so be it, but I don't look at the negative stuff. There's no need. Fans can say, 'Oh, he's not doing this. He's not doing that.' But they're behind the computer or desk. They're not playing. They don't fully understand what's going on, so, no it was not guided towards them. It was more that I'm confident in myself and struggles happen. Get through it."
Feeling improvements in his pitch selection and contact at the plate helps Randolph know he's headed in the right direction.
"My AB's show it every night," Randolph confidently shared. "That's the thing the fans don't see. They don't don't see the AB's, they just see the numbers.
"I'm progressing. Every AB is getting better and better. I'm actually starting to hit the ball hard, I just gotta find holes now."
Avoiding unwelcome criticism and unproductive feedback is a smart call for anyone. Though, Randolph understands the high expectations that come from being a top draft pick.
Playing several states away from his home in Georgia, Randolph still talks with his parents every day. Family as well as teammates give him the positivity that helps him stay focused and take strides.
The Phillies felt Randolph showed enough last year in the Class A Advanced Florida State League and over the off-season in the Arizona Fall League to have him open this season in the Eastern League.
With Clearwater in 2017, the 5-foot-11 205 pounder posted a .250 average with 13 homers and 55 RBI in 122 games. In the AFL he tallied a .239 average with four doubles, a triple and eight RBI in 19 games.
Coaches also see development with Randolph's performance, despite the disappointing statistics.
"It's his first year of Double-A and it's got its challenges," Reading coach and former Phillies first baseman Rico Brogna stated. "That being said, the last week to 10 days, some of the things he's been working on with hitting is transferring into the batters box during the game."
Continuing to grow and adapt is the immediate plan with the ultimate focus on reaching the big leagues and helping the team that took a chance on Randolph three summers ago and made him a millionaire as a teenager.
The difficulties along the way are what Randolph feels will help him the most. And he welcomes them with wide eyes and high hopes.
"Until you struggle, you're not going to make adjustments. You're not gonna learn anything unless you struggle."