Originally a 16th round pick in the 2013 June Amateur Draft, Randolph Samuel Gassaway has made his way from the Gulf Coast League, through Aberdeen, Delmarva, and to Frederick, Bowie, but back to Frederick. Gassaway stands 6’4, 210 pounds, bats and throws right, and is currently 22 years old. He most certainly looks the part of a MLB player.
After the 2016 season, Gassaway was the O’s 24th ranked prospect according to Baseball America. In Aberdeen and Delmarva in 2016, he had a breakout year with a batting line of .340/.384/.535. Things were looking up. In 2017, playing primarily left field, with some designated hitter and right field along the way, the Atlanta, Georgia, product had an up and down season.
On April 3, 2017, Gassaway was promoted to Frederick from Delmarva and he was a 2017 Mid-Season Carolina League All-Star in Salem, Virginia. That’s the good news. The first bump in the road came when he was promoted to Bowie on May 17, but proceeded to struggle and was sent down to Frederick where he stayed for the rest of the season. That’s the bad news.
Overall, Gassaway played 114 games in Frederick during 2017 with 431 at bats and 114 hits. He had 19 doubles, one triple, and five home runs. In Bowie, he played nine games with 27 at bats, picking up only five hits. The Bowie stint was not a great one at all for Gassaway and it didn’t last long before they returned him back to Frederick.
Most troublesome alongside his performance with the Baysox, Gassaway had an incredibly slow end to the 2017 season hitting .167 over the last 30 days with the Keys. From August 1 through September 4, he struggled with one home run and only 11 RBI. His final batting line fell to .260/.304/.338. Quite a drop from 2016.
On the positive side, Gassaway was relatively consistent overall in 2017 hitting .287 vs. left-handed pitching, .256 vs. right, .279 at home, and .251 on the road. Through all five levels from 2013-17, Gassaway has played 304 games, batting a combined .269. Not great, but not horrible.
Also on the plus side is Gassaway’s positive attitude and day-to-day approach to the game, as noted in a July 2017 interview with Joe Wedra of Camden Chat.
“I’m just sticking to my approach and not getting off of that,” Gassaway said. “Putting a good swing on the ball, hitting the ball hard and continuing to keep hitting, stay in my zone and stay disciplined at the plate a bit more. Defensively, getting to balls that I don’t usually think I can get to, just trying to go all out for it and get better first steps, stuff like that – getting better each day any way I can.”
“You have to take care of what’s in front of you,” Gassaway said. “You can’t think ahead because if you get off task and try to think ‘Oh, if I do this then I’ll be here’ or ‘If this happens then I’ll be there’, you really can’t think about those kind of things. You control the controllables and take it day by day what’s in front of you.”
Brian Graham – farm director for the Orioles – also sang Gassaway’s praises before the Carolina League All-Star game in a June 2017 interview with the Baltimore Sun.
“This guy has done some really good things in a short period of time, and it all came from the foundation that he built down in extended,” Brian Graham said. “He was a guy that you always liked his potential, but the performance hasn’t quite showed up yet. Now there’s the performance showing up.”
As of today, Gassaway is listed as prospect #19 in the O’s system. Earlier this season, some asked whether he was on par with Cedric Mullins (#5) and Austin Hays (#2). Given the rankings and his disappointing end to 2017, the answer appears to be no.
But, of course, baseball is a strange game, unexpected things occur every day, and the situation could change. Phrases like “big-time raw power” and “brute strength” and “lottery ticket” are used in Gassaway’s scouting reports and are hard to ignore when his numbers aren’t terrible overall. That said, the lack of power must also be a concern for a corner outfielder.
For good things to happen, Gassaway will need to get considerably better at Frederick and perform at a top-level in Bowie if the opportunity presents itself. Given the Orioles future uncertainty with corner outfield positions, and their lack of perceived overall minor league depth, it would be a mistake to give up on Gassaway. Don’t expect him in Baltimore any time soon, but stay tuned and hope the kid finds his groove.
Tomorrow: D.J. Stewart