Top 5 College Shortstops
Throughout the season, Baseball America will present position rankings of the best college players in the draft class. Here we focus on the shortstops.
It is not a banner year for college shortstops. While Oregon State’s Nick Madrigal could get a chance to play shortstop in pro ball, he is playing second base in school in deference to Cadyn Genier (and currently Madrigal is out with a wrist injury). Grenier and Missouri State’s Jeremy Eierman have a chance to go in the first round, but neither is seen as a sure thing. There is some good depth to the position, with intruding players such as Vanderbilt’s Connor Kaiser, Rice’s Ford Proctor and Illinois State’s Owen Miller outside of the top five.
1. Jeremy Eierman, Missouri State: Eierman last year hit 23 home runs as a sophomore – one more than his then-teammate Jake Burger – and earned a spot on USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team. After going 3-for-26 to start the spring, he’s back in a groove at the plate and is hitting .311/.433/.554 with three homers and nine stolen bases. Even if Eierman has to move off shortstop in pro ball due to his athleticism, he should hit enough to profile at third base.
2. Cadyn Grenier, Oregon State: Grenier took over at shortstop during his sophomore season, pushing Madrigal to second base, and he has exciting tools and athleticism. His range, footwork and above-average arm and speed should allow him to stay at shortstop in the long run. Questions persist about how much he’ll hit and his strikeout rate. Still, his defense and athleticism are good enough that a team will take him early in the draft and give him the chance to put it all together.
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3. Nico Hoerner, Stanford: Hoerner has been an everyday player throughout his career at Stanford. He is a consistent hitter with a good feel for the barrel. He isn’t the toolsiest player on this list and he may end up moving to second base, but his hittability and approach to the game help him stand out.
4. Jeremy Pena, Maine: Pena, the son of former big league second baseman Geronimo Pena, stands out for his defensive ability. He has an above-average arm, soft hands and fluid infield actions, giving him the tools to stay at shortstop. Though Pena struggled offensively during the summer in the Cape Cod League, he has the tools to develop once he refines his approach at the plate.
5. Tyler Frank, Florida Atlantic: Frank was one of the surprises of the Summer with Team USA. Though he struggled offensively, his defensive versatility and ability to do a bit of everything kept him in the lineup. He has a mature approach at the plate and some raw power, and has experience playing nearly everywhere on the diamond – including catcher. Frank may end up as a super-utility player, but if he hits enough, he’ll find a spot as a regular.