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2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Baltimore Orioles

Top 500 Prospects Drafted by Baltimore in 2016

67 – Cody Sedlock
68 – Keegan Akin
145 – Preston Palmeiro
153 – Alexis Torres
209 – Matthias Dietz
242 – Tobias Myers
300 – Austin Hays

Complete List of 2016 Baltimore Orioles Draftees

And now a few words on some Orioles draft picks…

1.27 – RHP Cody Sedlock

It’s very easy to like Cody Sedlock (67). Getting to the love stage is a little more challenging, but isn’t that how it goes? Or at least that’s what I’ve heard: everybody loves me from the very first moment they meet me, so I can’t really relate. It’s easy to like him because he’s a rock solid bet to be a long-term rotation fixture. It’s hard to love him because the ceiling feels more mid-rotation than upper-echelon MLB starting pitcher. There’s nothing wrong with that when you’re picking at the back of the first round, by the way. Sedlock’s sinker/slider stuff is complemented very nicely by a curve and a circle-change, both of which that flash enough to be called potential weapons on any given day. Writing this felt familiar, so I decided to look back at what I’ve written about Sedlock in the past…

Properly rated by many of the experts yet likely underrated by the more casual amateur draft fans, Sedlock is a four-pitch guy – there is a weirdly awesome high number of these pitchers in the Big 10 this year — with the ability to command three intriguing offspeed pitches (SL, CB, CU) well enough for mid-rotation big league potential. I try not to throw mid-rotation starter upside around lightly; Sedlock is really good.

Oh, yeah. That would have sufficed. In addition to maybe not loving Sedlock’s ceiling — again, I really really like it and I don’t mean to downplay it — it’s also a little bit hard to love him because of the red flag that has been repeated over and over again since mid-May: the big righty’s workload at Illinois. It’s hard to say much positive about how he was used as a junior, at least in terms of his long-term prospects. What I find more interesting is Sedlock’s previous two seasons coming out of the Fighting Illini bullpen. His college innings by year: 31.2 in 2014, 31.1 in 2015, and 101.1 in 2016. Depending on your personal baseball innings worldview, you can look at his two years in relief as a good thing (keeps his overall innings down!) or a worrisome thing (big innings jump…). Any opinion I have on the matter is purely anecdotal — I haven’t done the necessary empirical research to blow my lid about his usage and Baltimore’s subsequent gamble that he’ll hold up physically in the coming years — so I’ll put that issue on the back burner for now. It’s obviously something to consider when evaluating the selection, but, again, you’re not going to get a perfect player with the twenty-seventh pick in the first round. A high-floor potential mid-rotation arm coming off some questionable late-season pitch totals is about what you should expect.

In a really thoughtful interview with Chris Cotillo before the draft, Sedlock compared his game with former Oriole prospect Jake Arrieta. Baseball has a great sense of humor sometimes.

2.54 – LHP Keegan Akin

When I saw Keegan Akin (68) pitch as a sophomore, I’m pretty sure he threw 85% fastballs. I’d give the exact number, but the finer details of that game and many others were lost in the Great Washing Machine Incident that I don’t like to talk about. I do remember that watching Akin was like watching a younger, lefthanded Bart Colon in terms of pitch usage. He’s come a long way since then — and he was really good then! — thanks to an above-average to plus 78-82 change and an average or better low-80s cut-slider. That’s some serious progress in fourteen months! Either that or I’m not nearly as good a “scout” as I’d like to think I am. I did (and still do) like his fastball a lot; it checks every box you need (velocity, movement, command) to be a really successful pitch and it plays up a half-grade higher thanks to the natural deception in his delivery. I had him pegged as a potential reliever back then — he could still be a serious late-inning weapon if it comes to it — but now I see no reason why he can’t be a successful mid-rotation arm. Baltimore may have nabbed two-fifths of their next playoff team’s rotation with their first two picks.

2.69 – RHP Matthias Dietz

Illinois for Sedlock, Western Michigan for Akin, and now John A. Logan JC (Illinois again!) for Matthias Dietz (209). If three picks is enough to make a trend, then we’ve got ourselves an official run linking Midwestern arms to Baltimore to track going forward. Dietz’s stuff has by all accounts looked much better in shorter bursts than it has as a starter (94-98 FB as a reliever, 90-95 as a starter; slider much sharper in relief), but his eye-popping junior college numbers (10.22 K/9 and 0.96 BB/9 in 103. IP with a 1.22 ERA), frame (6-5, 230), and lofty draft standing should get him a chance to keep starting in the pros. A much improved changeup — still a raw pitch, but improving at a rapid enough rate to intrigue — and outstanding control help bolster his case as a future starter. The fact that he has realistic late-inning reliever potential as a backup plan makes him a nice gamble here if you believe in him as a starter. It’s not a direct skill set comparison, but his situation reminds me some of Zack Burdi’s with Chicago.

3.91 – OF Austin Hays

The pre-season take on Austin Hays (300) is quite interesting, in part due to my wrongness, when viewed through the magic of hindsight…

Thankfully, Austin Hays, a pre-season FAVORITE due to his patient approach (easiest way to become a FAVORITE as a hitter), plus arm, strong glove, and above-average speed, has done his part in the early going. Hays may get stuck with the tweener label for some – not quite enough pop for a corner, not quite enough glove for center – but a more open-minded team might view perceived negative as a strength: Hays isn’t a tweener, he’s versatile! I’m not sure I’d go quite that far, but I still like Hays a whole lot.

I don’t think he’s a tweener any longer; he’s good enough to play center if they let him and his power breakthrough in 2016 solidifies his offensive potential in a way that should please traditionalists if he’s moved to a corner. That should mean I like a guy I had tabbed as a pre-season FAVORITE even more, right? Yes and no. I still like Hays a whole lot; really, what’s not to like? But his approach, a big part of the appeal coming into the year, took a minor step back as he sold out for a little more pop. If this is who he is now, he’s still a really fun prospect with above-average regular upside. If he can find a way to bridge the new with the old, however, he could be a star.

4.121 – RHP Brenan Hanifee

An athletic prep arm from your own backyard who has already been up to 93 with minimum wear and tear on his arm? I’m buying what Brenan Hanifee is selling. This was a pre-draft miss on my end that shows the limits of what a staff of one can’t do. The O’s had a few more resources at their disposal and appeared to use them to their full advantage here. I like this pick a lot.

5.151 – SS Alexis Torres

A friend of mine who saw Alexis Torres (153) in his pro debut down in Florida told me that he he felt the shortstop from Puerto Rico was more advanced with the bat than he had been led to believe. That’s obviously good to hear, especially in light of Torres’s relative struggles in the GCL. He also said that he felt that Torres’s glove was oversold some by some of the “draft people.” Not sure if he was talking about me, actual draft “experts,” or some of his pro ball colleagues, but thought it was interesting all the same. My pre-draft notes on him were all about his glove, speed, arm, raw power, and athleticism rating comfortably average or better with his bat being the one true question mark. Funny how that works out. I don’t normally bother to cross-reference my rankings with where guys are actually picked, but the O’s and I were on the same page with Torres. Or, pretty dang close at least.

6.181 – RHP Tobias Myers

There are a lot of similarities between fourth round pick Brenan Hanifee and Tobias Myers. The two share similar present fastballs (88-92, 93 peak), similar athleticism, and similar two-way multi-sport backgrounds. Hanifee has the edge in physical projection, but Myers has the more advanced offspeed stuff, especially his good upper-70s changeup. Information for the “do with it what you may” department: I’ve seen and heard his height listed at 5-11, 6-0 (the “official” measurement for now), and 6-2 depending on the source. Anyway, I ranked Myers ahead of Hanifee before the draft, but, knowing what I do now, I’d definitely flip the two without much second thought.

7.211 – 1B Preston Palmeiro

On Preston Palmeiro (145) from way back in December 2015…

I’m still on the fence some about JR 1B Preston Palmeiro, but he has some very vocal fans out there who love his swing and think he has a chance to be an average or better hitter with above-average power production. Being a primary first base prospect at the amateur level is a tricky thing with a bit more to it than many — myself included — think about. On the one hand, it’s obvious that being limited defensively to first base drastically increases the threshold of entry to professional baseball as a hitter. You need to hit and hit and hit to make it. On the other hand, there simply isn’t the same competition at first base at the amateur level as there is at other spots. I know that many a big league first baseman played elsewhere along the way, but if we’re just talking about getting drafted in the first place then the competitive field begins to look a lot thinner. In other words, if Palmeiro goes out and hits the shit out of the ball all spring, then what’s to stop a team from valuing that bat higher than we’re conditioned to think because of the relative lack of options to be found later in the draft? Up the middle players are wonderful and we know they dominate these drafts for a reason, but with offensive production (power, especially) growing increasingly scarce at the highest level perhaps the place for a big bat a team believes in will come sooner on draft day.

The Orioles got good value nabbing Palmeiro when they did. That makes it a good pick in my eyes. Now whether or not it’ll actually work out remains very much up in the air. I realize we can say that about literally every single pick, but I think saying so actually serves a greater purpose beyond debating the merits of Palmeiro’s future. As we covered back in December, up-the-middle athletes are coveted for a reason during the draft. This is irrefutable. But I think teams (and well-meaning fans) sometimes get too comfortable with the belief that the rest of the diamond — namely first base and the outfield corners — will work itself out with minimal resources invested. I don’t think that’s the case. There’s nothing wrong with taking top ten round first basemen and corner outfielders. Is Palmeiro good enough to be a big league contributor as a first baseman? Beats me. But good for Baltimore for taking a shot.

8.241 – RHP Ryan Moseley

On Ryan Moseley from March 2015…

I’ve long been a fan of the sinker/slider archetype and Moseley does it about as well as any pitcher in this class. When I start digging into batted ball data to find GB% in the coming weeks, he’ll be the first name I look up. On physical ability, a case could be made that Moseley deserves this first round spot. If we’re talking early season production…not so much. As we mentioned before, some young pitchers throw with so much natural movement that they are unable to effectively harness the raw stuff with which they’ve been blessed. Moseley’s track record suggests just that.

Find a way to get Moseley’s power sinker working for good instead of evil and you’ve got yourself a keeper. Until then, he goes into the maybe starter/maybe reliever pile as we wait and see how he takes to pro coaching. On talent, this is worth a shot. On production, it’s questionable. So long as you diversify your draft portfolio to have a nice blend of each side, you’re fine with taking shots like this.

9.271 – RHP Lucas Humpal

Already 23-years-old, Lucas Humpal will have to move quick early on to keep his prospect status alive in the eyes of the fan base. The senior righthander from Texas State has a good enough fastball (88-92) and an outstanding changeup. There’s middle relief upside here.

10.301 – RHP Cody Dube

Baltimore lands another potential middle reliever in $5,000 man Cody Dube. The Keene State righthander with impressive college numbers (11.18 K/9 and 1.73 BB/9) and fairly generic middle relief stuff (low-90s FB, solid SL) could get enough ground balls and whiffs to keep getting work. Or not. I’ll be real here, I don’t have all that strong an opinion on this one.

11.331 – LHP Zach Muckenhirn

One of the recurring comments I got on Zach Muckenhirn all spring long was that he’s got a long future in the game after his playing days are through if he wants to coach. There’s a lot of respect out there for his approach to his craft and high baseball IQ. There should be plenty of time before he worries about his post-playing career, though. Muckenhirn throws an upper-80s fastball (up to 92-93) with above-average command of a trio of respectable offspeed pitches. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but he’s right on the edge of back-end starting pitcher and middle reliever as of now.

12.361 – LHP Max Knutson

Max Knutson is a hard-throwing (87-93, 94-96 peak) athletic lefthander who has struggled with both bouts of inconsistent command and below-average control throughout his college career. He’s not entirely dissimilar stuff-wise to the player drafted just one round later…

13.391 – LHP Brandon Bonilla

Baltimore finally gets their man. After being rebuffed by Brandon Bonilla in the twenty-fifth round back in 2014, the Orioles convinced the big lefty to sign on the dotted line here in the thirteenth round in 2016. Better late than never. Of course, as it turned out they’ll have to wait until 2017 to see him pitch in a competitive game as a bad back kept him off the mound after signing. Like many of the lefties drafted by Baltimore in 2016, Bonilla has power stuff and questionable control. Makes sense to bet on these guys while the cost is still just mid-round draft picks and a couple hundred thousand bucks total as it sure beats trying to buy them down the line on the free agent market. Draft five of these guys, hit on one (or more!), and profit.

As it turns out, despite writing about Bonilla for the site plenty over the years I didn’t feature him this year. HOWEVER, we did talk about him in the comments section…

It appears that Bonilla has resurfaced at Hawai’i Pacific. Pitching really well for them so far: 8.1 IP 4 H 0 ER 4 BB 14 K. I appreciate you bringing him up because now I can re-add him to my database, assuming the rumored reports on a 97 MPH peak FB (he lost the FB for a while, but allegedly has it back) and SL that flashes plus are true.

How about that?

14.421 – RHP Ruben Garcia

I’ve mentioned before that I write these reviews in a completely scattershot order. More often than not I start with round forty and work my way up; writing up mid- to late-round picks is a lot more fun for me, and I suppose I’m not one for delayed gratification. Anyway, I’ve already written the Matt De La Rosa pick up below, so feel free to skip down there to get my thoughts on Ruben Garcia. Different players, obviously, but the two picks are very much connected contextually.

If you came here just for Garcia, I’ll give you the quick version: I know little to nothing about Garcia as a player, but as a pick I think he’s awesome. Garcia was a marginal 3B/OF for Eastern Florida State, but the O’s saw something special enough in him to give him a shot as a pitcher in pro ball. He did pitch three clean innings for the Titans in the spring: 3 IP 0 H 0 ER 2 BB 5 K. I’d bet a pretty penny that Baltimore’s scouting relationship began before that, but it’s still fun to pretend that it was those two random games that caused them to fall in love with his arm. This all makes Garcia’s start in pro ball that much more remarkable. It’s only 15.1 innings, but a 12.33 K/9, 2.35 BB/9, and 1.76 ERA is a heck of a way to justify your place in the game. Garcia belongs.

15.451 – RHP Nick Jobst

Nick Jobst’s name never made it on the site, but seeing it pop up during the draft reminded me of a text I got about him way back in February. The message came after Jobst tossed his fifth scoreless inning to start the year. His line at that point: 5 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 10 K. As a big man (6-3, 260) capable of throwing hard (mid- to upper-90s) who was doing what he was doing in the middle of the slow start to the season, it made perfect sense I’d be getting a text about such a cool guy, especially when you consider my life goal of finding the next Todd Coffey (minus the casual racism!) being well-known in certain social circles. Turned out to be a good call by the texter as the big righthander finished the year blowing away 15.09 batters per nine with a 5.03 BB/9 to go with it. That was good enough to get him drafted in the fifteenth round and good enough to make him a fun off-the-radar prospect to root for.

16.481 – LHP Willie Rios

Maybe the Orioles got a number of good long looks at Willie Rios in his one season playing in their backyard at Maryland. His sophomore season at Florida Southwestern State had a little good (88-93 FB, 95 peak; low-80s SL with promise; athleticism; 10.96 K/9) and a little not so good (underdeveloped slower stuff including a low-80s CU and a mid-70s CB; 7.79 BB/9), but there’s clearly enough here to work with as a potential effectively wild matchup lefty.

18.541 – LHP Layne Bruner

The last take I had on Layne Bruner on the site came after his senior year of high school…

LHP Layne Bruner (Aberdeen HS, Washington): 84-87 FB, 89 peak; interesting 74 CB; good athlete; 6-2, 170 pounds

He only pitched 46.2 total innings at Washington State, but that didn’t stop Baltimore from drafting him a second time after first making a run at him back in 2013. They clearly see something in him they like. His fastball velocity has ticked up a bit since then — more upper-80s, occasional low-90s — and his curve has become an even more consistent go-to offspeed pitch, so maybe they are on to something here. Maybe he’s another effectively wild (11.85 BB/9 in 2014, 10.96 BB/9 in 2015, 15.30 BB/9 in 2016…but only 3.77 BB/9 in his pro debut!) matchup lefty down the line.

19.571 – OF Cole Billingsley

Nice to see Cole Billingsley get his shot in the pros here in the nineteenth round. Here are a few words on him from early in the college season that still apply today…

The top two names on the hitting list are scuffling so far in the early going. Cole Billingsley, a favorite of mine thanks to outstanding athleticism, easy CF range, and above-average to plus speed, has had a slow start, but figures to get things rolling before too long. He’s a high-contact hitter who doubles as one of college ball’s best bunters. The entire package adds up to standout fourth outfielder if it all works in pro ball.

I think that holds up pretty well. Twenty-nine other teams in baseball would be cool with landing a potential backup outfielder in the nineteenth round, so Baltimore definitely did well here.

20.601 – LHP Yelin Rodriguez

I don’t have much on Yelin Rodriguez, but the fact that the prep lefty doesn’t turn 18-years-old until November 3 is a good thing. The fact that he held his own as a 17-year-old in pro ball this summer is an even better thing. He’s on my list as a pro guy that I’d like to know more about in the coming years. Very deep sleeper.

21.631 – SS Chris Clare

Chris Clare got a mention in my notes for having a steady glove at both second base and shortstop. That alone should keep him cashing minor league checks for the foreseeable future. If he hits more than I think, then maybe he’s a utility guy.

22.661 – RHP Nick Gruener

Little bit surprising to see Nick Gruener sign with the Orioles after only his junior season at Harvard. Most of the non-premium Ivy League prospects that I can remember through the years tend to stay until their eligibility is exhausted. Good for him for betting on himself, I suppose. On a somewhat related but not super related note, the head coach for Harvard isn’t called the head coach. He’s the Joseph J. O’Donnell ’67 Head Coach for Harvard Baseball. That’s something.

I’m terrible with name pronunciations, but it just occurred to me that the Orioles selected a Bruner and a Gruener within four rounds of each other. Maybe that’s funny, maybe it isn’t.

23.691 – LHP Tyler Erwin

Tyler Erwin is the great-great-great nephew of former United States President James K. Polk. He also struck out 10.69 batters per nine in his junior year at New Mexico State. It’s likely only of those two things will help him advance up the professional ladder. Which one is it? Time will tell.

24.721 – LHP Zach Matson

Roughriders is one of the best sports team names out there. I’m writing that in for any and all future expansion teams if the team name voting goes public. Zach Matson was a Crowder Roughrider. He struck out 12.41 batters per nine over 48.2 innings pitched. Only thing I’ve heard on him was that he was effective when he was doing it with more offspeed than gas, but as his fastball grew and grew — mid-80s to upper-80s to low-90s over the last few seasons — his overall game flourished.

26.781 – 1B Jaime Estrada

Though called out as a third baseman during the draft, Jaime Estrada split time in his pro debut fairly evenly between both third AND second. That makes an intriguing prospect all the more…intriguing. It’s past time for me to invest in a thesaurus. Anyway, all Estrada did in his two years at Central Arizona was hit .373/.515/.536 with 83 BB/41 K and 18/20 SB in 338 AB. Numbers are a little inflated there, sure, but that kind of approach plays in any environment. I’m firmly on his bandwagon. I also really just like that Central Arizona team. In this past draft, Brent Gibbs, Dakody Clemmer, and Estrada all signed with pro teams. Caleb Henderson was drafted, but instead opted to enroll at New Mexico State. George Castillo is going to Long Beach. Mitchell Robinson is off to Portland. Ernie De La Trinidad is now at UNLV. That was one loaded roster. And they reloaded again for what looks like another very intriguing (there’s that word again) 2017 squad with all kinds of draft implications. Reviewing the 2016 draft is fun and all, but I’m so ready to start talking 2017…

28.841 – RHP Matt De La Rosa

I absolutely LOVE this pick. Not because I knew anything about Matt De La Rosa before the draft. Heck, I had never even heard of Lenoir-Rhyne College. I’m still not convinced it’s a real place. But I love when a team takes an accomplished amateur hitter — De La Rosa hit .357/.459/.605 with 31 BB/36 K and 4/5 SB in 185 senior AB — and decides he’s better off as a pitcher instead. I love the idea that an area guy saw enough in De La Rosa’s rocky 5.1 innings this year (6 H 5 ER 6 BB 5 K) to give him a shot at doing his thing on the mound professionally. Sometimes I can be a little hard on the baseball writers of the world who speak of scouting in hushed reverential tones, so forgive me for the exact corniness I’d normally mock them for…but this is scouting at it was meant to be.

30.901 – 2B Garrett Copeland

Once upon a time this was written here about Baltimore’s eventual thirtieth round pick…

Garrett Copeland is one of the best second base prospects in the country that nobody talks about. He’s got nice speed, pop, and a sound approach at the plate.

Good for Baltimore for paying attention to one of college ball’s better kept secrets. Copeland faces an uphill battle to make it as a primary second baseman, so it was nice to see him get some time at the hot corner in his debut to help make him that much more versatile. I believe in the stick.

31.931 – OF Jake Ring

It’s pretty shocking that a sure-fire center fielder who has produced the way Jake Ring has in the SEC fell all the way to the thirty-first round. I’m sure the Orioles don’t mind it one bit. Ring has above-average to plus speed, a strong arm, that aforementioned easy center field range, and an approach at the plate that could make him a future leadoff hitter. Expecting a player nabbed this late in the game to make it as a regular is a bit optimistic even for me, but Ring could be that kind of outlier. More realistically, a long career as a backup outfielder could await. If he hits that ceiling from all the way down in the thirty-first round basement then everybody will come out a winner here.

33.991 – OF Markel Jones

I won’t pretend to know a lot about Markel Jones, but he’s another one of those guys that I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback about since draft day. I’ve noticed that happens more often than not with junior college prospects. It’s one of the best parts of still having this site. He’s a great athlete who can run and defend, so at least there’s that. He also hit a whopping .406/.494/.699 with 37 BB/39 K and 23/26 SB in his final year at Brunswick CC.

34.1021 – RHP Lucas Brown

Undersized college righthander with average stuff across the board (86-90 FB, average SL and CU) with an effective (2.86 ERA in 2015, 3.10 ERA in 2016) yet underwhelming (6.14 K/9 in 2015, 6.29 K/9 in 2016) track record. That’s Lucas Brown.

35.1051 – 2B Tanner Kirk

Baltimore had Tanner Kirk do a little bit of everything in his pro debut. The former Wichita State shortstop played second, third, left, and right for the GCL Orioles. He even pitched two scoreless innings for good measure. That kind of versatility is likely his only shot at the big leagues as his bat is a little light cross the board. I was honestly a little surprised to see him drafted, but defensive do-everything types tend to be more valued by organizations who know the grind of minor league ball requires plug-and-play guys like Kirk than the outside work might think.

37.1111 – RHP James Teague

No problem taking a chance on a reliever out of the SEC in the thirty-seventh round. James Teague has a decent fastball (88-92) and an average or better slider. If he throws strikes, he’s got a chance.

38.1141 – 3B Collin Woody

As a first baseman/third baseman, Collin Woody’s got some power and a strong arm going for him. That’s where the O’s want him for the time being. I actually like him on the mound, a spot where his upper-80s sinker and solid change could look decent as a reliever. Long shot prospect either way.

40.1201 – RHP Joe Johnson

I really do love the MLB Draft. Joe Johnson, pick 1201, is an actual prospect of note. To be this far down the line and find a real prospect is so cool. Johnson saw his ups and downs over the years at Erskine College, but the submariner with a college career 9.83 K/9 and 2.47 BB/9 is just funky enough to make a little noise in pro ball.

Unsigned Prospects and Where You Can Find Them in 2017

Seth Shuman (Georgia Southern), Ben Brecht (UC Santa Barbara), Ryan Mauch (Long Beach State), Wil Dalton (San Jacinto JC), Daniel Bakst (Stanford), Will Toffey (Vanderbilt), Tyler Blohm (Maryland)

2016 MLB Draft – High School Shortstops

A brief history of the top high school shortstops selected and their respective ages in their draft year…

2015: Brendan Rodgers – turned 19 that August
2014: Nick Gordon – turned 19 that October
2013: JP Crawford – turned 19 that next January
2012: Carlos Correa – turned 18 that September
2011: Francisco Lindor – turned 18 that November
2010: Manny Machado – turned 18 that July
2009: Jiovanni Mier – turned 19 that August

Delvin Perez, set to turn 18-years-old this November, will join that club in a few weeks. He’ll be younger than everybody on that list, though Lindor, the player I used as the best case scenario comp for Perez at the start of the draft process, was only ten days older than Perez when comparing their respective draft years. We’ll come back to him shortly.

If we deem the past few seasons as too recent to make fairly assess, then we’re left with a ton of quick-moving impact big league talent at the position. There’s are many reasons why Major League Baseball is in the midst of yet another shortstop renaissance, and the recent influx of talented prep prospects has a lot to do with it. Take a look at this stretch of big league players (guys with * were drafted as shortstops but moved off sooner rather than later)…

2012: Correa, Addison Russell, Corey Seager
2011: Lindor, Javier Baez, Trevor Story, Mookie Betts*
2010: Machado, Ryan Brett*, Garin Cecchini*, JT Realmuto*
2009: Nick Franklin, Chris Owings, Billy Hamilton*, Enrique Hernandez*, Scooter Gennett*

You also have Gavin Cecchini, Daniel Robertson, and Roman Quinn on the way, though there’s a chance that all of the above will have asterisks by their name eventually if they don’t have one already. Then there’s also clear asterisks Michael Taylor (a negative value player to date, but there’s plenty of time to change that) and Mychal Givens, who really should have been on the mound in the first place. We’re just using that 2009-2012 draft band here; if we include the past three classes, we’ve got Crawford, Gordon, and Rodgers, among others, on the way. That’s a healthy group of high school shortstops drafted this decade.

If so inclined to use recent history as a guide, then the point here is pretty simple: when in doubt, draft a prep shortstop. We’ve seen how high school catchers, first basemen, and second basemen have proven to be questionable investments over the years. High school shortstops, on the other hand, have had a great deal of success. Nothing here is conclusive, nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody’s gonna die. Let’s talk about high school shortstops.

One of the fun things about having a site like this for so long is having a long track record, good and bad, to look back on. I find looking back at the bad to be particularly illuminating. A crucial element to evaluation, in any walk of life, is the willingness and ability to self-scout. My own track record with the top high school shortstops of recent years is spotty at best. I’d like to think I’ve learned a few things along the way, but that can be a tough thing to see when you’re still in the middle of the seemingly never-ending year-to-year draft game. My evolution can be seen somewhat when looking at my experiences with Manny Machado in 2010, Francisco Lindor in 2011, Carlos Correa in 2012, and eventually Brendan Rodgers in 2015…and hopefully Delvin Perez in 2016.

This quick, admittedly self-indulgent journey begins with both Machado and Correa as I explained the latter’s high ranking at one point using the former’s far too low ranking as the learning experience that it was…

Correa represents my mea culpa for underrating Manny Machado in 2010. Their scouting reports read very, very similar, and are best summed up by the abundance of “above-average” and “plus” sprinkled throughout. Correa can throw with the best of them, and his foot speed, bat speed, approach, and range are all well above-average. He’ll need plenty of at bats against quality pitching, so his drafting team will have to be patient, but his experience against high velocity arms is encouraging.

I had Machado thirteenth on my final 2010 board. That means he was behind AJ Cole, Karsten Whitson, Stetson Allie (perhaps there’s a lesson there about HS arms…), Brandon Workman, Deck McGuire (or low-ceiling college arms…), and Justin O’Conner (think I’ve learned my lesson about non-elite HS catchers by now). Austin Wilson (ranked fifth) also stands out as a bad miss this year; there’s maybe some Will Benson or Blake Rutherford parallels with him, depending on how you look at things. As far as Machado, I just flat missed on his physical tools. Missing on aptitude or work ethic or willingness to take instruction or even projection of physical growth is one thing, but what I saw and heard of Machado was drastically different than how he really played the game. You could say I underrated his tools, but I’d go a step further and say I just flat didn’t appreciate him for what he was and could be. There could have been some contrarian bias in me then that I hope has gotten beaten out of me by now; sometimes guys are hyped for good reason, so going against the grain to be different is just flat stupid. If he’s good, say he’s good. If that means you have the same top five as everybody else, so be it. That exact contrarian streak kept bubbling up here as I had assumed most of the spring that Carter Kieboom would overtake Delvin Perez on this rankings one he showed everybody he could hang at shortstop. I LOVE Kieboom, as I hope I’ll clearly explain below. Perez just has that extra gear of athleticism, speed, and range that puts him in the same class as too many of the recent shortstop hits to ignore. One such hit is Francisco Lindor.

My take on Lindor after his limited debut season (20 PA) showed just enough personal growth that I’ll give myself a tiny gold star for the day…

Without repeating myself pre-draft too much (check all the bold below for that take), here’s where I stand on Monteverde Academy (FL) SS Francisco Lindor. Of all the positives he brings to the field, the two biggest positives I can currently give him credit for are his defense and time/age. Lindor’s defensive skills really are exemplary and there is no doubt that he’ll stick at shortstop through his first big league contract (at least). As for time/age, well, consider this a preemptive plea in the event Lindor struggles at the plate next season: the guy will be playing his entire first full pro season at just eighteen years old. For reference’s sake, Jimmy Rollins, the player I compared Lindor’s upside to leading up to the draft, played his entire Age-18 season at Low-A in the South Atlantic League and hit .270/.330/.370 in 624 plate appearances. A year like that wouldn’t be a shocker unless he goes all Jurickson Profar, a name Baseball Prospectus’ Jason Parks recently evoked after watching Lindor, on the low minors. Either way, I’m much happier with this pick now than I would have been a few months ago. Cleveland saw the opportunity to land a superstar talent at a premium defensive position and went for it, high risk and all.

That last line is where there’s some progress shown: “Cleveland saw the opportunity to land a superstar talent at a premium defensive position and went for it, high risk and all.” I think that belief informs where I’m at with Perez right now. There’s almost no denying the enormity of his ceiling, but the risk factor is very real. The list of successful prep shortstops who no longer play shortstop above helps mitigate some of those concerns as it seems that importance of being able to slide down the defensive spectrum can’t be overstated enough. Draft for stardom, hope for the best, and be willing and ready pivot developmentally to another defensive spot if necessary. Of course, if you get the stardom part wrong as I did with Machado, then your evaluation is doomed from the start. I at least allowed for that stardom with Lindor, so, yeah, some growth there. Not a ton, but some. I’ll take it.

I think I had mostly learned my lesson by the time it came to rank the aforementioned Carlos Correa first overall in 2012. That lesson was applied, more or less, last year when discussing Brendan Rodgers…

That’s a player worthy of going 1-1 if it all clicks, but there’s enough risk in the overall package that I’m not willing to call him the best player in this class. Second best, maybe. Third best, likely. The difference in ranking opinion is minute, but for a decision-maker picking within those first few selections it can mean the difference between job security for years to come (and, perhaps eventually, a ring…) or an outright dismissal even before getting to see this whole thing through.

The MLB Draft: go big on upside or go home, especially early on day one. And if you’ve got the smarts/guts enough to do just that, then make it a shortstop when possible. And if you’re going to gamble on a high risk/high reward shortstop, make it as young a shortstop as you can find. And if that young shortstop also happens to have game-changing speed, an above-average to plus arm, plus raw power, and a frame to dream on, then…well, maybe Delvin Perez should be talked more about as the potential top overall prospect in this class then he is. I know there’s some chatter, but maybe it should be louder. What stands out most to me about Perez is how much better he’s gotten over the past few months. That, combined with his youth, has his arrow pointed up in a major way.

For what it’s worth, I’ve heard from a few different independent sources that are steadfast in their belief that Perez will be the clear best player from this class within three years or less. To say that said reports have helped push me in the recent direction of Perez as a serious candidate to finish in the top spot on my own board would be more than fair. When I think of Perez, I can’t help but draw parallels to Brandon Ingram, freshman star at Duke and sure-fire top two pick in next month’s NBA Draft; more specifically, I think of Perez as the baseball draft version of Ingram (young, indicative of where the game is headed, and the next evolutionary step that can be traced back to a long line of similar yet steadily improving players over the years) when stacked up to Blake Rutherford’s Ben Simmons (both excellent yet perhaps slightly overhyped prospects getting too much love due to physical advantages that won’t always be there). I’m not sure even I buy all of that to the letter (and I lean towards Simmons as the better NBA prospect, so the thing falls apart quickly), but there are certain characteristics that make it fit…and it’s a fun hook.

Also for what it’s worth, I’ve heard from a few friends who are far from sold on Perez the hitter. That’s obviously a fair counterpoint to all of the enthusiasm found in the preceding avalanche of words. Will Perez hit enough to make the kind of impact worthy of the first overall selection? This takes me back to something tangentially related to Kyle Mercer, another potential 1-1 candidate, back in February

It goes back to something I mentioned in the comments section a few weeks back: guys either learn to hit or they don’t. That’s my paraphrased take from this scout’s quote talking about the likelihood of Jahlil Okafor improving his outside shot as a professional: “He needs to become a better shooter and free throw shooter. He either will or he won’t.” Scouts work very hard evaluating amateur and minor league talent across the country, so their collective insight into projecting a young hitter’s future is not to be dismissed. But…can we ever really know how a guy is going to react when thrown into the professional environment? A 95 MPH fastball with movement is a 95 MPH fastball with movement at any level. Plus speed, outstanding glove work, and the ability to miss bats are all translatable skills when honed properly. Hitting is an entirely different animal.

In other words, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. The Perez supporters –myself included, naturally – obviously believe in his bat, but also believe that he won’t necessarily have to hit a ton to be a damn fine player when you factor in his defensive gifts and plus to plus-plus speed. That’s part of what makes drafting a highly athletic shortstop prospect with tons of youth on his side so appealing. Even if the bat doesn’t fulfill all your hopes and dreams, the chances you walk away with at least something is high…or at least higher than at any other position. It gives players like Perez a deceptively high floor. I’ll annoyingly repeat what I said about Rodgers here one more time…

That’s a player worthy of going 1-1 if it all clicks, but there’s enough risk in the overall package that I’m not willing to call him the best player in this class. Second best, maybe. Third best, likely.

That’s what I said last year about Rodgers before eventually ranking him third overall in his class. I have similar thoughts about Perez, but now I’m reconsidering the logic in hedging on putting him anywhere but first overall. A sky high ceiling if he hits and a reasonably realistic useful big league floor if he doesn’t makes him hard to pass on, especially in a class with so few potential stars at the top. He’s blown past Oscar Mercado and Jalen Miller, and now shares a lot of the same traits that have made Francisco Lindor a future star. I don’t see Perez as the type of player you get fired for taking high, but rather the kind of player that has ownership looking at you funny for passing up after he makes it big. All that for a guy who nobody can say with compelling certainty will ever hit. I love the draft.

Carter Kieboom was with the third base prospects in my notes up until about a month or so ago. The buzz on him being good enough to stick at shortstop for at least a few years grew too loud to ignore. In fact, said buzz reminds me quite a bit about how the slow yet steady drumbeat for Alex Bregman, Shortstop grew throughout the spring last season. Beyond the defensive comparison, I think there’s actually a little something to looking at Kieboom developing as a potential Bregman type impact bat over the next few seasons. He checks every box you’d want to see out of a high school infielder: hit (above-average), power (above-average raw), bat speed (yes), approach (mature beyond his years), athleticism (well above-average), speed (average), glove (average at short, could be better yet at third), and arm (average to above-average, more than enough for the left side). He’d be neck and neck with Drew Mendoza for third place on my third base list, but he gets the bump to second here with the shortstops. At either spot, he’s a definite first round talent for me.

Falling behind Perez and Kieboom are names like Gavin Lux, Grae Kessinger, Nonie Williams, and Nicholas Quintana. I’m not sure there’s a bad way to rank those guys at this point. Lux is a really intriguing young hitter with the chance to come out of this draft as arguably the best all-around hitter (contact, pop, patience) in this high school class. That may be a bit rich, but I’d at least say his straight hit tool ranks only below Mickey Moniak, Carlos Cortes, and Joe Rizzo. If his bat plays above-average in all three phases – he could/should be there with contact and approach while his raw power floats somewhere in that average to above-average range – then he’d certainly be in the mix. A fun name that I’ve heard on Lux that may or may not have been influenced by geography: a bigger, stronger Scooter Gennett. Here’s some of what Baseball America had on Gennett in his draft year…

He profiles as an offensive second baseman, while Florida State intends for him to start at shortstop as a freshman. He’s a grinder with surprising power and bat speed for his size (a listed 5-foot-10, 170 pounds), and though he can be streaky, his bat is his best tool. He’s a better runner on the field than in showcase events, but he’s closer to average than above-average in that department. Defensively he gets the most of his ability, with his range and arm better suited for the right side of the infield than the left. He’s agile, though, and a solid athlete. Gennett would be a crucial get for Florida State, if he gets there. Most scouts consider him a third-to-fifth round talent.

A bigger, stronger, and arguably better (especially when likelihood to stick at short is factored in) Gennett feels about right, both in terms of draft stock (second to fourth round talent, maybe with a shot to sneak into the late first) and potential pro outcome. It should be noted that Lux’s defensive future is somewhat in flux. I think he’s athletic enough with enough arm to stick at short for a while, but there are many others who think he’s got second base written all over him. A lot of that likely has to do with his arm – it’s looked strong to me with a really quick release, but there’s debate on that – so I’d bet that there’s little consensus from team to team about his long-term position. Teams that like him to pick him high in the draft will like him best as a shortstop, so it’s my hunch that he’ll at least get a shot to play in the six-spot as a pro to begin his career.

I really like Kessinger’s hands, range, and first step actions at short. He’s just a half-step behind Perez – if that – defensively. Offensively he’s more athlete with bat speed than finished product, but you could do a lot worse than what he gives you as a starting point. Williams matches Kessinger’s athleticism, speed (both of the bat and foot variety), and defensive upside, but the latter area is where Kessinger’s present value trumps where Williams is currently at. Williams could get there, but Kessinger has the head start. Many have slid Williams to center field on their boards, but he’s come on fast as an infielder since his inconsistent showing in the dirt this past summer. The defensive gap between Kessinger and Williams is potentially made up by the advantage that Williams has shown in the power department. He’s currently more physical than Kessinger with a swing geared toward more natural pop. Two similarly talented players with just enough differences to keep things interesting; I like Kessinger by a hair, but that could flip by June.

I’m running out of time, but I’m still not quite sure what to feel about Quintana as a prospect. I like him a lot, but I’m not quite sure yet how high “a lot” will get him on the board. Though most I talked to saw him moving off of shortstop sooner rather than later – second, third, and even catcher were mentioned as long-term spots for him – I kind of like the strong armed righthander to stick at short for the foreseeable future. Offensively, I believe. Quintana can hit and hit for power. If his approach comes around, then defensive questions won’t loom quite as large.

Jose Miranda is a particularly well-rounded shortstop with a strong hit tool, solid approach, and reliable hands. Grant Bodison is a little older than his peers, but with a plus arm, plus speed, and an average or better shot to stick at shortstop, he’s a fine prospect. His approach as a hitter has always stood out as particularly intriguing, so I’m more willing to overlook the extra few month lead he has on much of his current competition than I might be otherwise. Hudson Sanchez, a righthanded bat with some thump out of Texas, is on the opposite side of the age spectrum as one of this class’s youngest prospects. Though not quite the same prospect, it’s worth keeping in mind that Sanchez is just a few weeks behind Perez. Only one team will get Perez in the first round, so the value of nabbing players like Kieboom (second if you’re very lucky), Lux (same), and then one or more of Kessinger, Williams, Quintana, Jaxon Williams, Miranda, Bodison, Hamilton, Sanchez, Francisco Thomas, Cam Shepherd, and Alexis Torres (all third round or later) will certainly be on the forefront of twenty-nine other teams’ minds in this upcoming draft.

*****

SS Anthony Prato (Poly Prep Country Day School, New York)
SS Austin Masel (Belmont Hill HS, Massachusetts)
SS Austyn Tengan (Cypress HS, California)
SS Brady Whalen (Union HS, Washington)
SS Branden Fryman (Tate HS, Florida)
SS Brandon Chinea (Florida Christian HS, Florida)
SS Brandon Hauswald (University School of Jackson, Tennessee)
SS Brian Rey (Deltona HS, Florida)
SS Cameron Cannon (Mountain Ridge HS, Arizona)
SS Camryn Williams (Gaither HS, Florida)
SS Carter Aldrete (Montery HS, California)
SS Cayman Richardson (Hanover HS, Virginia)
SS David Hamilton (San Marcos HS, Texas)
SS Delvin Perez (International Baseball Academy, Puerto Rico)
SS Duncan Pence (Farragut HS, Tennessee)
SS Francisco Thomas (Osceloa HS, Puerto Rico)
SS Grae Kessinger (Oxford HS, Mississippi)
SS Grant Bodison (Mauldin HS, South Carolina)
SS Grant Little (Midland Christian HS, Texas)
SS Hunter Lessard (Sunrise Mountain HS, Arizona)
SS Jeremy Houston (Mt Carmel HS, Illinois)
SS Kevin Rolon (PR Baseball Academy, Puerto Rico)
SS Kevin Welsh (Northern Burlington HS, New Jersey)
SS Logan Davidson (Providence HS, North Carolina)
SS Matthew Rule (Kearney HS, Missouri)
SS Mitchell Golden (Marietta HS, Georgia)
SS Nicholas Novak (Stillwater HS, Minnesota)
SS Nick Derr (Sarasota Community HS, Florida)
SS Nonie Williams (Turner HS, Kansas)
SS Palmer Ford (Virgil Grissom HS, Alabama)
SS Peter Hutzal (Ernest Manning SS, Alberta)
SS Ryan Layne (West Jessamine HS, Kentucky)
SS Sal Gozzo (Sheehan HS, Connecticut)
SS Samad Taylor (Corona HS, California)
SS Tyler Roeder (Jefferson HS, Iowa)
SS Zachary Watson (West Ouachita HS, Louisiana)
SS/2B Alexis Torres (PR Baseball Academy, Puerto Rico)
SS/2B Cam Shepherd (Peachtree Ridge HS, Georgia)
SS/2B Gavin Lux (Indian Trail Academy, Wisconsin)
SS/2B Jakob Newton (Oakville Trafalgar SS, Ontario)
SS/2B Nicholas Quintana (Arbor View HS, Nevada)
SS/2B Will Brooks (Madison Central HS, Mississippi)
SS/3B Carter Kieboom (Walton HS, Georgia)
SS/3B Hudson Sanchez (Southlake Carroll HS, Texas)
SS/3B Jose Miranda (PR Baseball Academy, Puerto Rico)
SS/3B Josh Hollifield (Weddington HS, North Carolina)
SS/CF Jaxon Williams (BF Terry HS, Texas)
SS/OF DeShawn Lookout (Westmoore HS, Oklahoma)
SS/OF Jaylon McLaughlin (Santa Monica HS, California)
SS/RHP Quincy McAfee (Westside HS, Texas)
SS/RHP Will Proctor (Mira Costa HS, California)

2016 MLB Draft Prospect Preview: HS Shortstops

I have less of a feel for this shortstop group than I do any other collection of position players. Delvin Perez has separated himself from the rest, but I’m not sure any other infielder has a definitive claim on the second spot right now. This puts us right around where we were last June when Brendan Rodgers was a clear number one with the field left to duke it out for second.

One of the few things I’m sure about with this is class is that it’s loaded with prospects who have the glove to stick at short. Perez leads the way as a no-doubt shortstop who might just be able to hit his way into the top half of the first round. I’d like to see (and hear) more about his bat, but the glove (range, footwork, release, instincts, everything), arm strength, athleticism, and speed add up a potential first round prospect. If that feels like me hedging a bit, you’re exactly right. Teams have and will continue to fall in love with his glove, but the all-mighty bat still lords above every other tool. In some ways, he reminds me of a bigger version of Jalen Miller from last year. He won’t fall as far as Miller (95th overall pick), but if we could all agree that mid-third is his draft floor then I’d feel a lot better about myself.

The Miller half-comp splits the difference (as a prospect, not as a pro) between two other recent comps for Perez that I see: Francisco Lindor and Oscar Mercado. Long-time readers might remember that I was driving the Mercado bandwagon back in the November before his draft year…

I’m on board with the Mercado as Elvis Andrus 2.0 comps and was out ahead of the “hey, he’s ahead of where Francisco Lindor was at the same stage just a few years ago” talk, so, yeah, you could say I’m a pretty big fan. That came out way smarmier than I would have liked – I’m sorry. The big thing to watch with Mercado this spring will be how he physically looks at the plate; with added strength he could be a serious contender for the top five or so picks, but many of the veteran evaluators who have seen him question whether or not he has the frame to support any additional bulk. Everything else about his game is above-average or better: swing, arm strength, speed, range, hands, release, pitch recognition, instincts.

I bet big on his bat coming around and lost. Mercado went from fifth on my very first board (ten months ahead of the draft, but it still counts) to 81st on the final version to the 57th overall pick of the draft in June. He’s the cautionary tale (for now) of what a young plus glove at shortstop with a questionable bat can turn out to be. On the flip side, there’s Francisco Lindor…

Lindor’s defensive skills really are exemplary and there is no doubt that he’ll stick at shortstop through his first big league contract (at least). As for time/age, well, consider this a preemptive plea in the event Lindor struggles at the plate next season: the guy will be playing his entire first full pro season at just eighteen years old. For reference’s sake, Jimmy Rollins, the player I compared Lindor’s upside to leading up to the draft, played his entire Age-18 season at Low-A in the South Atlantic League and hit .270/.330/.370 in 624 plate appearances. A year like that wouldn’t be a shocker unless he goes all Jurickson Profar, a name Baseball Prospectus’ Jason Parks recently evoked after watching Lindor, on the low minors. Either way, I’m much happier with this pick now than I would have been a few months ago. Cleveland saw the opportunity to land a superstar talent at a premium defensive position and went for it, high risk and all.

That pick (and I really shouldn’t say just the pick itself: all of the subsequent development credited to both the individual player and the team should be noted as well) has obviously gone about as well as humanly possible. It’s like the total opposite of what happened to Mercado! Lindor is already a star and looks to be one of the game’s best shortstops for years to come. I’m not ready to hang that kind of outcome on Perez, but I think it’s at least within the realm of realistic paths. I’d say not quite Lindor (15th ranked prospect by me), not quite Mercado (81st), and something more like Miller (46th) is my most honest take on how I generally view Perez at this precise point in time. As the Mercado example shows, drastic change can never be ruled out.

Now we’re back to figuring out who falls behind Perez on the shortstop pecking order. It only makes sense to look first to guys who appear to be safe bets to remain shortstops for the foreseeable future. Grant Bodison might have a claim for most talented all-around shortstop in this class. He’s a little bit older than his peers, so some teams might ding him (fairly, I’d say) for that. Still, he’s a big talent who can really run, throw, and work deep counts. He joins guys like Grae Kessinger, Nolan Williams, and David Hamilton as sure-fire shortstops defensively. I’d put those three in a pile of prospects that I look forward to learning more about this spring. All have been really divisive prospects in my talks with smarter people around the game. You might have one that you really, really like and one that you don’t see as an everyday player, but few I’ve checked in with have said that they are on the fence about many of these guys just yet. It’s love or hate right now, though always with the caveat that “it’s too early.” Kessinger and Hamilton in particular have stood out as being players who elicit strong opinions, good and not so good, from those who have seen them often.

Of course, for all I said about these shortstops being so good because they’ll stick at shortstop, here are a few guys I really like that are far from locks to stick at the six-spot professionally.

I probably like Jaxon Williams more than most. He gets my annual Roman Quinn comp (Alonzo Jones got the honor last year) for his intriguing defensive tools (love him in CF, optimistic about him at short), plus athleticism, and sneaky pop packed into a 5-9, 160 pound frame.

Nicholas Quintana is another prospect who might be better off playing anywhere in the infield (2B, 3B, maybe even C) away from shortstop over the long haul. For now I’ll be stubborn and stick with him as a legitimate shortstop prospect. I understand the concerns about how his average at best foot speed and good but not great athleticism, so I’m banking on superior instincts, positioning, and an arm that allows him to play a bit deeper than most to let me stick for a while. In other words, I’m going into the spring thinking of him as a shortstop and will have to be convinced otherwise by his play to make the switch. The bat plays just about anywhere for me right now, so the further to the right of the defensive spectrum he can handle, the better. Yes, I had to look up if the spectrum goes left to right or right to left.

Lightning round because this has already run longer than any piece on high school players has any right to in December. I’m a huge fan of Gavin Lux and think he could wind up in the first round conversation come June. The fact that he might wind up going behind both Ben Rortvedt and Nate Brown (all Wisconsin prep players) is a beautiful thing for the future of baseball in this country. Hudson Sanchez is another favorite and I’m intrigued to see if he’s still got any significant growing left in him; if so, he might be one of those players who can hang at short, but winds up so close to what we envision the ideal third baseman to be that there’s really no other option but to play him at the hot corner in pro ball. Have to appease the Baseball Gods, after all. Francisco Thomas looks great from what I’ve seen, but don’t sleep on fellow Puerto Rican prospect Jose Miranda. Miranda’s slighter with a bit more projection, but both are really good. Those two guys and Perez and Alexis Torres…love this class out of Puerto Rico this year.

The list begins to break down the further you go – it’s just a collection of talented players at that point with little to no ranking logic behind it – so don’t take the placement of Cayman Richardson, Carter Aldrete, Will Brooks, DeShawn Lookout, and Tyler Fitzgerald as anything but placeholders as we all find out more about each guy this spring. The fact that I could see any of those names ending up as a top five shortstop in this class by June should tell you all you need to know about the depth and quality of this year’s class.

SS Delvin Perez (International Baseball Academy, Puerto Rico)
SS/2B Gavin Lux (Indian Trail Academy, Wisconsin)
SS/CF Jaxon Williams (BF Terry HS, Texas)
SS/2B Nicholas Quintana (Arbor View HS, Nevada)
SS Grant Bodison (Mauldin HS, South Carolina)
SS Grae Kessinger (Oxford HS, Mississippi)
SS Nolan Williams (Home School, Kansas)
SS David Hamilton (San Marcos HS, Texas)
SS/3B Hudson Sanchez (Southlake Carroll HS, Texas)
SS Jose Miranda (PR Baseball Academy, Puerto Rico)
SS Francisco Thomas (Osceloa HS, Puerto Rico)
SS Hunter Lessard (Sunrise Mountain HS, Arizona)
SS Cam Shepherd (Peachtree Ridge HS, Georgia)
SS Zachary Watson (West Ouachita HS, Louisiana)
SS Jeremy Houston (Mt Carmel HS, Illinois)
SS/2B Alexis Torres (PR Baseball Academy, Puerto Rico)
SS Cayman Richardson (Hanover HS, Virginia)
SS Austyn Tengan (Cypress HS, California)
SS Carter Aldrete (Montery HS, California)
SS Branden Fryman (Tate HS, Florida)
SS/RHP Daniel Martinez (Kennedy HS, California)
SS Aaron Schunk (The Lovett School, Georgia)
SS Brady Whalen (Union HS, Washington)
SS Cameron Cannon (Mountain Ridge HS, Arizona)
SS Austin Masel (Belmont Hill HS, Massachusetts)
SS/2B Will Brooks (Madison Central HS, Mississippi)
SS/OF DeShawn Lookout (Westmoore HS, Oklahoma)
SS Brandon Chinea (Florida Christian HS, Florida)
SS/2B Jakob Newton (Oakville Trafalgar SS, Ontario)
SS Brian Rey (Deltona HS, Florida)
SS Kevin Welsh (Northern Burlington HS, New Jersey)
SS Tyler Fitzgerald (Rochester HS, Illinois)
SS/RHP Quincy McAfee (Westside HS, Texas)
SS Duncan Pence (Farragut HS, Tennessee)
SS Samad Taylor (Corona HS, California)
SS/3B Josh Hollifield (Weddington HS, North Carolina)
SS Nicholas Novak (Stillwater HS, Minnesota)
SS/OF Jaylon McLaughlin (Santa Monica HS, California)
SS Mitchell Golden (Marietta HS, Georgia)
SS Nick Derr (Sarasota Community HS, Florida)
SS Sal Gozzo (Sheehan HS, Connecticut)
SS Matthew Rule (Kearney HS, Missouri)
SS Brandon Hauswald (University School of Jackson, Tennessee)
SS Ryan Layne (West Jessamine HS, Kentucky)
SS Kevin Rolon (PR Baseball Academy, Puerto Rico)