It's been a few weeks since the draft and I'm about ready to turn the page, but since I haven't read or heard much coverage about the Reds' 7th Round draft pick, I thought I'd take a quick look at Josh Fellhauer. Fellhauer was drafted out of Cal State Fullerton with the 209th overall pick. He stands 5-11, tips the scales at 180 lbs, bats left, and throws left.
Fellhauer first caught my eye at the College World Series this year. Or, perhaps more accurately, his swing caught my eye. He's got a smooth lefthanded stroke that should play well in the professional ranks.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Fellhauer played three years for the Titans. He started out his collegiate career as a platoon outfielder, but emerged as the starting leftfielder and one of the better hitters on the team as a freshman. He ended up the season with a slash line of .304/.379/.429/.808, which is a solid debut season for a freshman.
As a sophomore, Fellhauer was the everyday centerfielder and was selected to the All Big-West Conference Second Team. He took his offensive game to another level in 2008 by adding more power, as he posted a .335/.392/.517/.909. He posted a 10 game hitting streak and two 6 game hitting streaks. He finished 2nd in the Big West Conference with 62 runs scored, 3rd in hits with 90, 3rd in doubles with 20, 6th in triples with 4, 2nd in total bases with 139, and 9th in stolen bases with 17.
In 2009, as a junior Fellhauer had his best season to date. He flashed an intriguing, well rounded offensive game against top collegiate competition. On the season, he hit .396/.480/.529 with 6 homers, 18 stolen bases, and a 26/26 K/BB ratio. Obviously, there are some significant positives, but a few red flags as well. His 18 stolen bases come with 13 caught stealings. And, as impressive as his isolated on base percentage is, it was achieved in part by 16 hit by pitches. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with using the hit by pitch as an offensive weapon (Craig Biggio used it to great effect), but it remains to be seen whether it will continue to be a weapon at the professional ranks. It's one thing to leave your elbow out over the plate against a collegiate curveball, but it's something else entirely to do it against a big league fastball.
Overall, Fellhauer has continued to improve his game as he has gained more experience. He doesn't seem to have any true standout tools, but his offensive game is well-rounded and he can certainly hit. In addition, he has baseball in the bloodlines, as his grandfather, Richard, played for the St. Louis Browns and his father, Robert, was a 6th round draft pick of the Oakland A's as a shortstop.
In 2008, Fellhauer was selected to play for Team USA in the FISU World Championship. The team went 24-0 to win the gold medal. He played all three outfield positions, hit .299 with two homers, 6 doubles, and stole two bases. He obviously built on that experience during his impressive junior campaign at Fullerton. It's always a good sign when a player has success at the international level, as well as in collegiate ranks.
SWING AND TOOLS
At the plate, Fellhauer uses a quiet approach. His stance is slightly open and a bit wider than shoulder width. He uses a very small stride to trigger the weight transfer and close up his stance. He maintains good balance and exhibits good body control throughout the swing. His hand position starts in front of his left shoulder and he brings them back into hitting position as the pitcher gets ready to deliver the ball. As his weight transfers, Fellhauer uses good hip rotation to clear them out of the way and generate bat speed. He keeps his head down on the ball and uses a compact, line drive swing that allows him to center the ball on the barrel of the bat. On his follow through, he keeps both hands on the bat, which arguably limits his extension, but increases his control and stability throughout the swing.
Overall, Fellhauer has a nice, compact swing and maintains good balance and body control throughout. If you want to take a look at his swing, then check out this scouting video from MLB.com.
On the defensive side, Fellhauer has a solid arm and runs well. During his time at Fullerton and for Team USA, Fellhauer has spent time at all three outfield positions. Obviously, the versatility is a good thing, but it also may indicate that his range is a bit stretched in center. It'll be interesting to see how the Reds use him once he signs.
Fellhauer is an interesting prospect. He lasted until round 7 because he lacks plus tools and his frame doesn't allow for a great deal of projection, but he has a nice, well rounded game and he certainly knows how to hit. He strikes me as the kind of player whose overall game is greater than the sum of the individual parts. His prospect status will likely be driven by his defensive position. If he can handle centerfield, then his bat will be less critical. In addition, he projects as more of a table setter than a run producer, so his game would profile better in centerfield than it would in a corner spot.
Overall, I like his swing and his approach at the plate, which could be his ticket to the majors. Things would have to break right for him emerge as an everyday MLB player, but a smooth, line drive swing is certainly a nice place to start.