Brad Miller and Joe Panik ranking in the top three is completely unoriginal. As a man who ate a delicious PB&J every day from second to sixth grade knows, believe me when I say sometimes boring works. Of course, even a simple-minded PB&J fan like me knows you have to mix it up every now and then. I’m not talking a fluffernutter level of radical change here; think more along the lines of adding potato chips for that extra salty crunch. This list’s chips comes in the form of one Taylor Motter. Motter’s defense is outstanding and his knowledge of the strike zone rivals that of any of his peers. I think his 2011 season and subsequent draft standing will remind many of what Kansas State’s Carter Jurica did in 2010.
Nick Ahmed (who I actually prefer on the mound, believe it or not) and Derek Dennis are both tools gambles at this point. Either player is capable of a Christian Colon rise up the board this spring, though it seems unlikely a team will reach on either quite the way the Royals did on Colon. I prefer the bats of Featherston and Serna over those of Ahmed and Dennis, but the much greater possibility of the latter pair playing an above-average shortstop professionally ultimately gave them the edge.
You could also lump Sam Roberts in with the aforementioned Featherston/Serna group. The VMI star has produced every year and shows no signs of stopping heading into 2011. He has many of the archetypal utility player attributes, including an arm strong enough for third, the athleticism to play up the middle, and more than sufficient power to the gaps. He’s not the only senior mid-round shortstop candidate; Adam Bryant (finally 100% healthy and showing above-average raw power), Clint Moore (very good defender with the makeup you’d expect from an Army man), and David Herbek (poor man’s Bill Mueller upside) all have the talent to find a home on a big league bench if everything breaks right.
Kelby Tomlinson, Sam Lind, and Peter Mooney are all very much on the scouting radar despite not having a single major college at bat among them. Tomlinson and Mooney, he of the potential plus-plus glove, both look like starters from day one. Austin Nola, Brandon Loy, and Tyler Hanover all could have been back end of the top ten prospects in a different year.
It wouldn’t be a college shortstop list without the requisite Long Beach State prospect. This year it’s Kirk Singer’s turn in the spotlight. He possesses many of the same talents of last year’s third rounder, Devin Lohman, right down to the strong arm, above-average hands, and questions about the bat.