Draft Scouting Reports: Third Basemen
Borchering may be a safe bet, but he's the only one
Bobby Borchering looks like a pretty safe bet for success—though he may have to move off third—but beyond him every player at the hot corner comes with significant question marks.
1. Bobby Borchering, Bishop Verot HS, Fort Myers, Fla. B-T: B-R
As loaded as Florida's high school ranks are in 2009—and several scouts have called it a historically deep year—Borchering established himself early as the state's best bet for a first-round selection, and he hasn't let up. He has excellent size at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, and projects as a power-hitting corner infielder. While projecting high school hitters is one of the toughest jobs in scouting, evaluators regard Borchering as one of the safer prep bats in the draft. He has good hands, present strength and excellent bat speed, giving him the ability to hit both for average and for power. He went on a power binge this spring, lifting Bishop Verot from a poor start with seven home runs in a nine-game span. Borchering's bat already was going to get him drafted high, and his improved defense has moved him into first-round consideration. At times last summer he appeared destined to move to first base, and some scouts still see that as his best fit. He has improved his agility and first-step quickness this season, however, and has retained athleticism while filling out physically. He'll never be a graceful or above-average defender, but he has arm strength and soft-enough hands to play third at an average level if he keeps working at it. Borchering's Florida commitment isn't expected to dissuade him from signing in the first 50 picks.
2. Matt Davidson, Yucaipa (Calif.) HS, B-T: R-R
Davidson won the home run derby during the Aflac Classic at Dodger Stadium last summer, and only a late rally by the East squad prevented him from being the game's MVP. Athletic and powerfully built at 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, Davidson has always flashed impressive raw power. As a junior in the spring of 2008, he put on an eye-opening power display during the National Classic home run contest. Actual games, of course, are not home run derbies, and like many young power hitters, Davidson struggles with consistency and had trouble catching up to quality pitching at some showcase events. When hitting well, he waits out the pitch and then uses a short backswing and sweeping follow-through to wallop the ball. When slumping, he struggles to read the pitch, flinches his front side and commits too early or too late. Davidson's speed is well-below-average, but he does have an above-average arm. His hands and footwork will probably force him to first base down the road. Davidson may never produce in games to match the grades scouts put on his raw power, but the lure of that potential should put him as high as the supplemental first round if he's considered signable away from Southern California.
3. Kyle Seager, North Carolina, B-T: L-L
A three-year starter for North Carolina, Seager is an area scout favorite, not to mention a player opposing coaches respect immensely. National evaluators have a harder time pegging him because he doesn't fit a neat profile. His best tool is his bat. He has a smooth, balanced swing and makes consistent contact with gap power. He ranked third in the nation in 2008 with 30 doubles and was on a similar pace in 2009. He has a patient approach but doesn't project to hit for much home run power because of his modest bat speed and flat swing plane. While he's a fringy runner, he's a fine baserunner. Seager played second base for his first two seasons and moved to third this year, where he has played good defense. Featuring an average arm and impressive agility, he's an average defender at third, if not a tick above. Scouts who like him see a Bill Mueller type who doesn't fit the profile but grinds out at-bats and outs in the field. His detractors see him as a safe pick with low upside and a future reserve or utility player.
4. Chris Dominguez, Louisville, B-T: R-R
Dominguez's combination of size (6-foot-4, 235 pounds), power and arm strength is as imposing as any player in this draft. He hits tape-measure shots in batting practice and games, and he has three home run crowns to his credit (New England Collegiate League in 2006, Big East Conference and Cape Cod League in 2008). "You always worry that he's going to swing and miss, but he's going to hit 25-30 homers if he makes contact,' an area scout says. While Dominguez continues to chase breaking balls, he has made strides as a hitter. His 41 strikeouts through 50 games were a far cry from the 88 whiffs he had in 66 games as a redshirt freshman in 2006. He has quieted his approach and shortened his stroke without compromising his power. He doesn't possess an abundance of speed, but he has improved his conditioning and has enough quickness and instincts to have stolen 17 bases in 22 attempts. Scouts still wonder how dominant Dominguez might be on the mound after he showed a mid-90s fastball as a freshman reliever, but he doesn't want to pitch and hasn't taken the mound in the least two years. His arm is an asset at third base, and he has the hands and reactions for the position. He has made 18 errors this spring and his range is fringy, so he's not a lock to stay at the hot corner. The Rockies thought they had an agreement with Dominguez when they selected him in the fifth round last year as a draft-eligible sophomore, but he ultimately declined to sign. He'll likely go a round or two earlier this time around.
5. Tommy Mendonca, Fresno State, B-T: L-R
Mendonca is well known to college baseball fans for his tremendous performance—offensively and defensively—in last year's College World Series. He was the Most Outstanding Player in Fresno's unlikely run to the title in Omaha, and he has been nearly as good this season. Mendonca can be streaky both offensively and defensively. At 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, he has unique power from the left side and puts on one of the best batting practice exhibitions in college baseball. He's a flyball hitter who looks to lift everything, and his opposite-field power is outstanding. On the 20-to-80 scouting scale, he already possesses 50 power, and projects to 60 raw power easily. He has a distinctive swing. He starts with his hands high, then drops them into an angled launch position. He can drive a ball out even if he doesn't get all of it. In an early-season game at Loyola Marymount, he was slightly fooled by a changeup, got out front and under the ball but still lofted it out of the park. Scouts worry about the fundamentals of his swing, however. He comes close to locking or blocking his hands out front in an arm bar action, and he shows a weakness with offspeed stuff, setting a Division I record with 99 strikeouts last season. There are similar questions about his defense, where he looks fluid going to his left but not to his right, and his arm varies from cannon to squirt gun. He doesn't run well. Still, the lure of Mendonca's power bat and record of rising to the occasion will entice an organization to select him as early as the second round.