High School Top 100 Scouting Reports: Middle Infielders
See also: Catchers Scouting Reports
See also: Corner Infielders Scouting Reports
See also: Outfielders Scouting Reports
|2010 TOP MIDDLE INFIELDERS
|1. Manny Machado, ss, Brito HS, Miami
2. Christian Colon, ss, Cal State Fullerton
3. Jedd Gyorko, ss, West Virginia
4. Yordy Cabrera, ss, Lakeland (Fla.) HS
5. Garin Cecchini, ss, Barbe HS, Lake Charles, La.
6. Rick Hague, ss, Rice
7. Tony Wolters, ss, Rancho Buena Vista HS, Vista, Calif.
8. Marcus Littlewood, ss, Pine View HS, St. George, Utah
9. Justin O'Conner, ss/c/rhp, Cowan HS, Muncie, Ind.
10. Zach Alvord, ss, South Forsyth HS, Cumming, Ga.
11. Kolbrin Vitek, 2b/rhp, Ball State
12. Derek Dietrich, ss/3b, Georgia Tech
13. Jacoby Jones, ss, Richton (Miss.) HS
14. Sean Coyle, ss, Germantown Academy, Fort Washington, Pa.
15. Mike Antonio, ss, Washington HS, New York City
It's a good year for middle infielders. Compared to last year's group, this year looks to have stronger hitters while last year had more quality defenders. This group features a wide variety of players, but many will likely have to switch positions in college or the pros. Not many of them project to stick at shortstop—most of them project better at second base, third base or the outfield. That shouldn't come as a surprise, though. Of the 27 shortstops to get 300 or more at-bats in the big leagues last year, only three of them—Jimmy Rollins, Derek Jeter and J.J. Hardy—were drafted and signed as shortstops out of high school.
With 11 high school middle infielders in the top 50, this group makes up for an underwhelming college crop of middle infielders—there were only eight middle infielders listed in Baseball America's preseason College Top 100 list. But, that's actually better than last year, when there were only six. Here are scouting reports for this year's top high school middle infielders.
Manny Machado (Photo by Alyson Boyer)
Ranked as the top position player in the 2010 high school class, Machado has a long and lean pro frame that reminds some of a young Alex Rodriguez. Machado isn't the kind of prospect A-Rod was in high school, but he does have plus tools across the board. He's a silky-smooth defender that projects to stay at shortstop. However, if he does outgrow the position, he has the arm strength and projects to hit enough to move to third base.
"I think he can stay at shortstop," an American League area scout said. "The range would be the only question in some people minds, but he's smooth and he's instinctive and he's got the arm and fielding ability to play there. If anybody's looking for a weakness, it might be the range. But he's instinctive enough to stay there."
Machado performed well as one of the summer's busiest showcase participants. He shined for Team USA's first 18U gold-medal winning team, hitting .267/.472/.600 with two home runs. Machado has good whip in his hands with the bat and pro actions in all parts of his game and the scout projected he'll hit for average power. He's a great teammate, a hard worker and the total package when it comes to prep position players.
Yordy Cabrera (Photo by Alyson Boyer)
As the son of Tigers minor-league hitting instructor Basilio Cabrera, Yordy moved to Florida from the Dominican Republic before his freshman year in high school. Because of the move, Cabrera has had to adjust to cultural and language barriers in addition to what regular high school players go through.
He's also much older than his peers and he'll already turn 20 a few months after draft day. Cabrera has a big, strong frame and has grown up hitting at Tigertown in Lakeland, as he lives less than a mile away.
"He puts on a display in batting practice," an American League area scout said. "He's definitely got the tools. He's got the bloodlines with his dad coaching and has been around the game a long time. It's just a matter of his ability to apply his tools between the lines on a consistent basis and especially to make hard contact with the bat. He's an older player—he's 19—playing against 17 and 18-year-olds, so you'd like to see him dominate at that level and square up the ball consistently hard. I didn't see it in the one time I was there, but that's only one game."
He's too thick to stay at shortstop long-term, but has above-average power potential with strong hands. He won the home run derby at the 2009 Aflac All-American game, displaying excellent pull and lift power. He runs well and also has a strong arm, as he's touched 94 mph off the mound.
"I think he can play third base," the scout said. "He has the arm strength and shows enough actions at shortstop that I think he can play third."
Cecchini's bat is his best tool. He has a strong swing from the left side of the plate. It's a fluid stroke with natural pull power. He also has a keen eye at the plate and profiles to be an above-average hitter with above-average power.
His speed is fringe-average and he has a thick lower half, indicating he likely won't be able to stay at shortstop. He does have soft hands and a strong arm, indicating third base could be a long-term fit, but he played left field for Team USA last summer. Cecchini has grown up around the game.
Cecchini's parents, Glenn and Raisa, are the coaches at one of the strongest high school programs in the country, Barbe High in Lake Charles, La. Because of that, Cecchini is a hard worker, vocal leader, shows strong fundamentals and a high baseball IQ. His brother, Gavin, will be one of the best prospects in the 2012 draft class.
Wolters isn't physically imposing and doesn't have loud tools. He isn't the guy that scouts ask about immediately as he steps off the bus, but by the end of the game or series, they'll surely remember his name.
Hitting is Wolters' best tool. He shows good pitch recognition and can spray the ball to all parts of the field, as evidenced by his MVP performance at the Aflac All-American Game at Petco Park last summer. He's a sound defender, but probably profiles better at second base. His arm is adequate and he ran a 7.15 60-yard-dash at the Area Code Games, ranking him as a 40 on the 20-80 scale.
While he doesn't have huge raw tools, they play up because he's the quintessential ballplayer, a dirtbag that always plays hard and only knows one speed.
Littlewood has grown up around the game. His father, Mike, was drafted as a third baseman out of Brigham Young by the Brewers in the 37th round of the 1988 draft and is now the head coach for Dixie State in Utah.
Littlewood is a switch-hitter that profiles to be an above-average hitter with solid power. He looks better from the right side, but that's because he only picked up switch-hitting during his freshman year of high school. Before that, he was exclusively a righthanded hitter. As a lefty, his front side can get a little soft, but he has a quick bat and acute understanding of the strike zone.
Presently, Littlewood is an average runner. He has big feet and looks to still be growing into his frame. He's a fluid defender now—he's light on his feet with quick reflexes, soft hands and a strong arm. But, like most high school shortstops, he may wind up having to move off the position. He is a hard-nosed player that always has a dirty uniform and hits without batting gloves.
"I think he's going to have to move off (shortstop)," an American League area scout said. "He doesn't have any footspeed. He's not a quick-twitch guy. For the draft, you break down tools and where guys are talking about taking him, for me, his tools don't fit. He's a below-average runner, he's a below-average arm, he hasn't shown a lot of power. But he can hit and he's a just a baseball player—there's something to that, for sure. You play baseball, it's kind of important. He's one of those intangible guys. Marcus Littlewood is a guy that plays above his tools."
Littlewood was on the 2008 Team USA 16U squad and his bases-clearing double in the championship game brought home gold medals against Mexico. Last year, he was named the state's high school player of the year.
Justin O'Conner (Photo by David Stoner)
O'Conner is a great athlete. He came into the summer as a two-way player and ended it leaving more questions than answers. The biggest question with O'Conner revolves around where he'll play. At the beginning of the summer, he was mostly a shortstop and pitcher, but he also saw some time at third base and then even some time behind the plate at the end of the showcase circuit, in Jupiter.
"I think if you talk to 30 scouts, shoot all 30 of them may say they like him somewhere different," a National League area scout said. "I personally think he can stay in the infield and I also think he can catch. He's definitely raw back there, but that's not something you can just jump into and be polished. He's a good enough athlete and he's got great makeup. I think he's going to have a chance to be able to catch with an extremely strong arm. This is a guy that threw 96 (mph) across the diamond. He's one of those kids you could mold into just about whatever you want."
In a testament to his overall athleticism and versatility, he received preseason All-American votes at all four spots. He'll likely end up as a position player because of his well above-average bat speed and power potential. O'Conner out dueled Kris Bryant at the PG National home run derby last June.
"As far as a high school kid, he's got some special pop off the bat. It makes that sound that's kind of a little different than the average cat. He's got the bat speed, he's got the raw juice, he has the ability to drive the ball the other way which, for a high school kid, is pretty impressive. So, I think at this point it's refining the pitch recognition and seeing a little bit better stuff, but he's definitely projectable at the plate as well. He's got quick, strong wrists."
He's also an average runner, clocking in at 6.92 seconds in the 60-yard dash. Off the mound, he's 90-92 mph and touches 94. He'll also mix in a sharp curveball in the 74-76 mph range.
has a nice, smooth swing with excellent bat speed, natural lift and a
high finish. He had a terrific year as a junior, hitting .336. Of his 41
hits, 36 were of the extra-base variety. In fact, he didn't hit his
first single until 12 games into the season. He's athletic with good
power for his size. He showed off that power by tying Kris Bryant and
Justin O'Conner in the first round of the home run derby at the Perfect
Game National Showcase last summer.
has been compared to Gordon Beckham, he is much more of a free swinger
and things don't come as easily for him. He can catch up to good
velocity and hit good pitching, as he proved this summer on the showcase
circuit. Early this season, he took righthander Cam Bedrosian deep, but
his overall game still needs some polish.
hit so many homers because he does have some loft in his swing and he
does have a little backwards lean," a National League area scout said.
"But, this spring what he's done, is he's coming forward a little bit
and getting out of his legs. Those smaller-type power guys, they've
really got to get in their legs and let their core generate their power.
But Alvord is very strong for his size, but I don't think his swing has
been as good this spring as I've seen it."
a little undersized and doesn't have what it takes to stick at
shortstop. He doesn't have the range, arm or hands to play the position
in the big leagues, but could settle in as an offensive-minded second
baseman. He's a fringe-average runner, clocking in at 7-seconds flat in
the 60-yard dash at the East Coast Professional Showcase. Alvord could
be a tough sign as a triple-legacy commit to
"He has the power to play third, but could
play second. You've got a guy that could play both spots," the scout
Jones oozes athleticism with his loose, wiry 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame. He has a strong arm and the quick-twitch muscles to play multiple positions, including shortstop, third base and center field. Jones has shown above-average running with his 6.28-second 60-yard dash at PG National last June, though he was clocked at 6.6 at Tournament of Stars in July and 6.88 at East Coast Pro in August.
He shows fluid actions in the field and an above-average arm. Because of his athleticism and versatility, Jones could be a first-day pick in the draft, depending on how well he hits. He profiles to be at least an average hitter with average power, but needs to make a few mechanical adjustments to succeed at the next level. Jones starts with an open stance and sometimes stays open in his stride. He also has a tendency to get too uphill with his swing and swing around the ball instead of keeping his hands inside.
After a football-related arm injury over the winter and with Scott Boras as his adviser, Jones could be a tough pry from Louisiana State.
"I anticipate him going to LSU," an American League area scout said. "I don't think someone's going to jump up and throw a bunch of money at him, and that might be the best place for him right now."
Although his body is a little more tightly-wound, Coyle is cut from the same cloth as Wolters: an undersized middle infielder that battles at the plate, runs the bases aggressively and never gives less than 100 percent. Another member of Team USA's 18U gold-medal squad, Coyle played third base for the team. He hit .296/.500/.333 and led the team with 12 walks.
He's an explosive athlete that ran a 6.6-second 60-yard dash at Tournament of Stars and a 6.48 at the Bo Jackson 5-Tool competition in Jupiter. He's a gamer that can play anywhere on the diamond, but probably best profiles as a second baseman long-term. At the plate, Coyle works pitchers and hits the ball hard. He has a line-drive and groundball approach to utilize his above-average speed.
His arm is below average, clocking in between 84 and 89 mph. If Coyle doesn't sign, he'll join his brother, Tommy, at North Carolina.
Antonio comes from the same high school that produced Rod Carew and Manny Ramirez. He's a toolsy athlete that ran a 6.69-second 60-yard dash and he can put on a show in batting practice. That said, he's a definite project.
Antonio is the definition of raw in all phases of his game. He can hammer a fastball, but struggles against live pitching because he loses his front side during his swing, making it difficult for him to hit offspeed pitches and fastballs away. He sometimes tries to be too flashy at shortstop, which backfires on him, making him look sloppy. Antonio also shows poor instincts on the basepaths.
Antonio would be an ideal choice for a team with extra picks hoping to polish up a diamond in the rough.
Tall, lanky and exceptionally projectable, Ficociello doubles as the quarterback on his high school football team, but he readily admits his future lies in baseball. A switch-hitter, Ficociello is a shortstop at the high school level but profiles as a third baseman in college or professional ball, primarily due to his below average, 7.2 speed.
He enjoyed a breakout performance in the Area Code games in August of 2009 by notching five hits in an Area Codes doubleheader and has hit well since. Ficociello enjoyed a huge boost in his draft stock when he drilled a 90 mph fastball high into the trees at USC during the Flores Memorial All Star Game in November 2009.
A natural right handed hitter, Ficociello has extremely quick wrists which enable him to accelerate the bat head just at the moment of contact, giving him surprising power for such a thin youngster. He also shows a knack for battling in each at bat, fouling off numerous pitches and not giving in.
Defensively, Ficociello displays smooth and fluid fielding actions plus a strong, whip-like arm. He does have a tendency to nonchalant some plays and make errors he should not make. Blessed with a pleasant and enthusiastic disposition and an obvious love for the game, Ficociello has the kind of mental attitude that will be a distinct advantage during long, frustrating professional seasons.
The son of the former big leaguer with the same name, DeShields doesn't have his father's size, but he has his speed. The younger DeShields is currently 5-foot-9, 180 pounds and he ran a 6.46-second 60-yard dash. Because of his speed, he has the potential to be an above-average defender in center field, but also has the quickness and soft hands to play up the middle, though his below-average arm limits him to second base.
He bats and throws righthanded and has a short, quick swing that results in line drives from pole to pole. DeShields has a compact frame and tends to rotate though the ball instead of driving it.
"He's an electric runner—electric footspeed. He's going to swing the bat, he's strong—another guy that's short, but very strong. The pedigree he has and just the way he plays the game is very interesting."
On the same team as quarterback Zach Lee, who ranks as our No. 51 high school prospect as a righthanded pitcher, Lipka is also a talented football player. Lee threw 28 touchdown passes for the Lions this season and Lipka caught 22 of them. While he's only signed to Alabama to play baseball, football could be an option for him, as he was a first-team all-state wide receiver this year. He was a member of the 2008 16U Team USA squad that won gold medals at the COPABE Youth National Championship in Veracruz, Mexico.
Lipka's best tool is his top-of-the-line speed. He runs the 60-yard dash in 6.35 seconds and frequently gets from home to first in 4.1 to 4.2 seconds from the right side of the plate.
He has a tightly-wound body with big, muscular thighs that serve as a constant reminder of his speed. At the plate, Lipka has an aggressive stride toward the pitcher and quick rotation of his hips. He stays within himself, putting his strengths to use by utilizing a flat, line-drive swing and spraying hard line drives all over the field.
"He's athletic and runs very well," an American League area scout said. "His zero to 60 is very good, he gets moving in a hurry. His glove is okay. His throwing motion concerns me—the arm strength is there it looks like, I don't know to play shortstop in the big leagues. He's probably better suited in the outfield with his athleticism and I think his throwing is better suited for the outfield, rather than an infield position."
Sweeney's brother, Ryan, is a big league outfielder with the Athletics. Kellen is different in that he's not as big as his older brother and he bats from the left side of the plate. He has a smooth swing and hits the ball hard, but has a tendency to get out front and doesn't look as good as he did his sophomore year. He's a tick above average as a runner, and showed a 6.75-second 60-yard dash at PG National and got from home to first in 4.1 to 4.2 seconds.
He displayed smooth actions in the infield, although he bends over at the waist instead of bending his knees and lowering his backside on ground balls. He showed a good arm before coming down with an elbow injury last July.
Sweeney had Tommy John surgery in August to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, but it won't affect him too much, as Iowa high schools play their baseball seasons in the summer and because Sweeney has been on scouts' lists for years because of his brother and his frequent participation in showcase events. The injury happened before the Aflac All-American game, but Sweeney still went to the game as a member of the West team and took batting practice.
Narron has grown up around the game, as his father, Jerry, has been a player, coach and scout. The correlation stands out, as Narron has a pro-ready body at 6-foot-3 and 187 pounds. He also has a nice swing from both sides of the plate, with quality bat speed and power potential.
The major league ties, however, can also hinder Narron in the eyes of scouts, as he sometimes appears to already have a big league attitude and look as though he's just going through the motions.
Narron shows a patient approach and understanding of the strike zone, but can sometimes be too patient—taking pitches that he should jump on. When he does swing, the ball jumps off his bat, especially when he's swinging from the left side of the plate.
Narron isn't agile or quick enough to stick at shortstop long-term, but should be able to handle third base.
Culver has a lean, athletic body, but isn't as explosive as he appears. At the East Coast Professional Showcase over the summer, Culver ran a 7.08-second 60-yard dash, which would make him a below-average runner.
At the plate, Culver starts with a very narrow stance, which leads to a lot of lower-half movement during his swing. He takes a big stride, which sometimes puts too much balance on his front foot and he also sometimes loses his front side. However, Culver has good barrel awareness and still puts good swings on the ball, regularly centering balls up.
Culver has a good arm, but some evaluators like him better as an outfielder rather than a middle infielder. As one of the younger players in this year's draft combined with the fact that he's from New York, Culver doesn't have as much experience as some of the other players available, but he plays with a lot of energy and got better throughout the summer circuit.
It's a down year for Puerto Rican talent, but Thon—the son of the former big leaguer by the same name—is the standout among this year's crop. At shortstop, the 6-foot, 180-pounder is light on his feet and makes quick, strong throws across the diamond.
At the plate, the righthanded hitter is short to the ball with a line-drive approach. He's a good athlete that also excels in three other sports: basketball, volleyball and track and field. At the East Coast Professional Showcase, Thon ran a 6.84-second 60-yard dash and plays the game hard.
CONTRIBUTING: Dave Perkin