Houston Chronicle

2017 IBI Top 75 Prospects: #35 Conner Capel

The 2017 countdown continues with a 2016 high round draft pick who brings a ton of promise and upside as a bat, runner and defender and has a chance to be one of the Indians next big prospects if he can make a good, quick transition to the pro game...

35. Conner Capel – Outfielder

Born: 05/19/1997 – Height: 6’1” – Weight: 185 – Bats: Left – Throws: Left

Facts & Info: The Indians selected Capel in the 5th round of the 2016 Draft out of Seven Lakes High School (TX) and signed him for $361,300. For his senior season in high school he hit .456 with 36 runs scored, 27 doubles and 23 stolen bases. He had a commitment to attend and play baseball for the University of Texas before signing with the Indians. His father Mike Capel pitched on the 1983 Texas national championship team and appeared in 49 Major League games with the Cubs, Brewers and Astros from 1988-91.

Offense: Capel is a big, strong high school outfielder that has a chance to be an above average hitter and hit for power as well. He shows a mature approach with a simple swing that is direct to the ball that sprays balls to all fields, and can really hit thanks to some very advanced hand-eye coordination for his age and a knack for making consistent, hard contact. He does a good job of recognizing pitches, displays some good bat control and routinely puts together quality at bats. The Indians were impressed with his ability to make consistent, hard contact over their time scouting him and feel that his power will continue to develop as he matures. Right now he has fringy power that is more gap-to-gap power, but he has some raw power in his bat with the ability to drive the ball out of the ballpark where the Indians believe it could play up to above average as he learns to tap into his power more consistently and he continues to grow and get stronger.

Defense: Capel has some good athleticism to go along with some good instincts and speed that project him as a nice fit in center field where he could be above average defensively. He has been clocked in the low 90s when throwing off the mound, so his well above average arm is plenty to handle right field if needed. The focus will be to develop him as a center fielder, but he has the versatility to handle all three outfield spots and would be a plus defender at either position.

Speed & Intangibles: Capel is a plus runner who saw a significant improvement in his speed between his junior and senior season in high school. His speed is one of his best attributes and can really help impact a game both on the bases and in the field. He possesses the plus makeup that the Indians place such a high amount of importance on now in their draft picks, and has a very polished game and the aptitude to make quick adjustments. He’s a gritty player who doesn’t back down from a challenge and is someone who works hard, competes, hustles and gives it everything he has.

Focus: Capel is in the early stages of what will be a level-by-level process of developing his talent each season in order to have him as a potential Major League option in four to five years. Right now, the Indians main focus is on building his foundation with his routines, strength and conditioning workouts and base level adjustments to his swing and setup at the plate. The Indians believe there is a lot more bat in him than he has shown and it is a big area he needs to work on in order to improve his consistency of controlling the zone and limiting the swing and miss a little bit so that he can get to his power more. He has some loft in his swing, so the Indians are working to flatten out his bat path a little so he has more plate coverage and can hit more line drives. Once his swing adjustments take hold the Indians believe more power will show not just with more maturity and improved strength, but by him also learning to turn on balls more. His defense is pretty advanced for his age, but there is still a lot to learn with some of the basic nuances of playing center and also getting better at going back on balls, coming in on them and his first step lateral movements to his left and right.

Future: Capel was a top three round talent that the Indians were excited to have slide to them in the fifth round of the draft last year. When watching him face some of the better competition in showcases and other pre-draft workouts, they were impressed by his ability to make consistent contact, the power-speed combination he possessed and just the wide base of tools that he has that bring a lot of upside to him. What really attracted the Indians to him coming out of the draft was that he has enough bat to get to his power, which is rare as you usually don’t see power bats out of the draft have the ability to be solid average hitters with a plus run tool to boot. Add in the Major League bloodlines and excellent makeup and you have a prospect the organization is very excited to work with and see where he takes them. Because of his advanced hit tool, good arm and body type, a lot of people in the industry have made comparisons of him to a young Tyler Naquin. The Indians believe that is a fair comp, but that there is the potential to be more because of the untapped power he has yet to show. This is a foundational year for him so he should open the season in extended spring training and then go to Short-A Mahoning Valley when their season starts in mid-June – although they may take a conservative approach by having him open with a return to rookie level Arizona and then move him up to Mahoning Valley the last month or so of the season.

Ranking History: None

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