Cornelius Randolph didn’t make the American Family Insurance ALL-USA preseason baseball team but has played his way into contention for the postseason team, hitting .526 with seven homers, 11 doubles and a .934 slugging percentage in 76 at-bats this season for Griffin, Ga. Until the regular season American Family Insurance ALL-USA baseball team comes out in June, we’re looking at players who deserve consideration.
Name: Cornelius Griffin
School: Griffin, Ga.
Height, weight: 6-1, 190
Baseball future: The senior shortstop has signed with Clemson but is considered a likely first-round draft choice.
Cornelius Randolph is drawing comparisons these days to former Griffin baseball player Tim Beckham, who made the 2008 ALL-USA team.
Like Beckham, Randolph has the skills to go high in the first round, though it’s not likely he will be the first overall choice, like Beckham was in 2008, though Randolph has the higher upside as a hitter. He grew up hitting left-handed because that’s the side of the plate his older brother Xavier, who played on the same team as Beckham, hit from.
“My brother went through a lot growing up that helped me,” Randolph said. “He didn’t know about the travel ball scene, but he wound up playing for a small college in Alabama until his career ended with a blown-out knee. He wants me to do better and never take the game for granted.”
The senior shortstop could eventually end up as a third baseman or an outfielder, but Griffin needed him at shortstop and occasionally, as a pitcher.
“I put him at shortstop because he was the best athlete on the field,” Griffin coach Alex Wyche said. “He doesn’t try to do too much at the plate. He has a wide base and stays on top of the ball. Of his seven homers, four were to dead center and maybe one was pulled to right. The rest were to left.”
Randolph hit .446 with 27 RBI last season so Wyche had Randolph hit leadoff this season to make sure teams had to pitch to him. Still, he finished with 27 walks.
“At the beginning of the year, teams tried to pitch around him,” Wyche said. “He didn’t miss pitches. He drove the ball really well, especially the second half of the season when it wasn’t so cold. After the fifth or sixth game of the season, he was really stroking the ball.”
Randolph’s relaxed attitude served him well when the pressure was on. In an early season game, there were 40 scouts to see him hit against Pike County (Zebulon) pitcher Tristin English, who has signed with Georgia Tech. Randolph went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
“For a high schooler, he plays the game above his ears and understands the game,” Wyche said. “He was never overwhelmed by the situation or the pressure. In the game against English, he led off the game with a double off the left-center field wall. He knew his future was on the line and everyone wanted to see what he would do against this pitcher and he was calm and collected the whole time.”
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