School: Wake Forest University; Class: Junior
Position: OF; B/T: R/R
Height: 6-0; Weight: 205
Previously Drafted: Washington Nationals, 38th round, 2014
Background: Fairchild, who was drafted by the Nationals in the 38th round coming out of Seattle Prep High School, instantly became of the club’s most dominant offensive sluggers: he tore up the opposition to the tune of .349/.429/.497 with 14 doubles and five homeruns while going 12-for-14 in the stolen base department. That offensive prowess continued during the summer as well as he batted a more-than-respectable .307/.428/.425 for the Baltimore Redbirds in the Cal Ripken League.
And then he crashed…
In 62 contests for Coach Walter, Fairchild’s offensive numbers digressed down to .293/.403/.470, though that did come with far better plate discipline. And he looked terrible in the Cape Cod League that summer as well, hitting a lowly .232/.323/.330 in 34 games for the Chatham Anglers.
Wake Forest University Head Coach Tom Walter, who piloted the club to a spot in the playoffs and saw third baseman Will Craig get plucked out the first round last year, had this to say about his current center fielder: “Stu is coming off back to back all-conference seasons and is a preseason All-American. He is exactly what you want your center fielder to be – a plus defender with tremendous range and a good throwing arm. He’ll hit third in our lineup and be as tough an out as there is in college baseball.”
High praise – clearly.
And Fairchild exceeded those expectations easily. Through the Demon Deacons’ first 55 games, the 6-foot, 205-pound outfielder is slugging an impressive .350/.430/.602 with 16 doubles, one triple, and career bests in homeruns (13) and stolen bases (16). The lone red flag on his otherwise impeccable season is his step backward in plate discipline: his strikeout-to-walk rate, which peaked at 42-to-39 during his sophomore season, is currently at a disappointing 46-to-26.
For his career, Fairchild is sporting a .329/.420/.524 triple-slash line with 50 doubles, four triples, 23 homeruns, and 42 stolen bases (in 52 total attempts).
Projection: The immediate comparison that jumps into my mind is for Texas A&M center fielder – and current Indians outfielder – Tyler Naquin. Consider the following comparison:
While it looks like Fairchild’s overall production is superior, it’s important to remember that Naquin was ridiculous over his last two seasons, batting at least .380. Anyway, the Demon Deacon center fielder showcases a fairly well-rounded offensive toolkit: above-average or better speed, a strong hit tool, and 15-homer potential with wood bats. His contact ability is firm, but the decline in his walk rate is a little troublesome.
Overall, Fairchild looks like a solid professional bat with the ability to blossom into an above-average regular if his defensive ability grades out as well as Coach Walter describes.
Ceiling: 3.0- to 3.5-win player
Floor: 2.0-win player
Risk: Moderate to High
Grade: First Round