2018 MLB Draft Positional Previews: Middle Infield

Featured Photo: Nick Madrigal, 2B/SS, Oregon State Univ.

*       *       *       *       *


2080 Baseball Resource Libraries

2018 MLB Draft Video Library | 2018 MLB Draft Spotlight Library

Positional Preview Series

Catcher | Middle Infield | Corner Infield
Center Field | Corner Outfield
Left-Handed Pitcher | Right-Handed Pitcher

*       *       *       *       *

(Potential Day 1 Targets)

Nick Madrigal, 2B, Oregon State Univ.
Ht/Wt: 5’7”/161                B/T: R/R                  Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 3m
Video | Video 2 | Video 3

Though Madrigal is often the smallest player on the field, he makes an immense impact on both sides of the ball. The owner of the best bat-to-ball skills in this draft, Madrigal shows plus barrel control and above-average bat speed with a swing that is short and direct to the baseball. He may not hit for much power as a professional, amplifying the importance of the advanced hit tool, and the offensive profile may need to be driven by batting average if the lack of pop does not relegate advanced arms to working the margins.

Madrigal has the quickness, range, and hands to be a plus defender at second base, with his arm fitting best on the right side of the infield, as well. His speed is at least above-average, which plays up on the bases due to his advanced instincts and reads. Despite missing six weeks of the season with a broken wrist, Madrigal appears likely to be picked within the first 10 selections and could move very quickly through the pro ranks.

Brice Turang, SS, Santiago (Corona, Calif.)
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/165                B/T: L/R                  Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 5m
Video | Video 2 | Video 3 | Video 4

A year ago, Turang was a shortlist contender for the top overall selection in this class. His game has not progressed as expected, and while he put together solid but unspectacular summer and spring, the profile now fits better in the mid-to-late-first than atop it. A smooth defender at shortstop, Turang ranges well to either side and displays soft hands and above-average arm strength with easy carry across the diamond, with little question he can be an above-average defender at the next level.

The LSU commit has a fluid line drive swing with above-average bat-to-ball skills and an all fields approach. It’s unclear if he’ll hit for much power as a professional, as he hasn’t consistently flashed that tool during his amateur career, but advocates insist there’s enough strength and bat speed to project out. Turang’s speed is an asset, as he consistently produces home-to-first times in the 4.05-to-4.15 range from the left side, then subsequently shows long, fluid strides as he zips around the bases. He’s a clean fit for shortstop at the next level and there’s still a chance when the dust settles Turang will be left standing as the best position player in the draft class.

Xavier Edwards, SS, North Broward Prep (Coconut Creek, Fla.)
Ht/Wt: 5’10/165                B/T: B/R                  Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 9m

Edward’s speed is among the best in the class and is complemented by tremendous first step quickness that plays up on the base paths and on the six-spot dirt alike. Though he’s a smooth defender with soft hands at shortstop, there is a lack of consensus among evaluators as to whether he has enough arm to remain there as a professional. His quick release and tendency to field through to first help the arm to play up.

A switch hitter with limited power, Edwards is a bit more natural from the right side, though his barrel control and ability to slap the ball and use his legs offers appeal from the left side, as well. Once thought to be a good bet to reach Nashville, the Vanderbilt commit’s stock has been trending upwards with it now looking likely he will be selected early enough to forgo his commitment and start his pro career.

Jordan Groshans, 3B/SS, Magnolia High School (Magnolia, TX)
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/190            B/T: R/R          Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 6m
Video | Video 2 | Video 3 

Groshans showed well on the summer showcase circuit, consistently collecting extra base hits against some of the better prep arms in the class. At 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, Groshans is athletically built, with a high-waisted lower half and physical, sloping shoulders. He has a lot of present strength for a high school kid, and displays plus raw power. The jury is still out on the hit tool, as he’ll occasionally get caught out front against off-speed pitches with some hitchiness to his swing. When he’s locked in, however, he adequately covers the plate, spraying lasers to all fields.

Currently a shortstop, there’s some stiffness in Groshans’ movements, limiting his range and making possible he’ll shift over third in the long term. He has enough arm strength for either spot and has shown to be an above-average defender at third base when played there. Even with some questions as to his ultimate home on defense, Groshans has seen his stock grow this summer to the point where he’s now viewed as a comfortable Day 1 target who could come off the board as early as the top 20 overall picks.

Nander De Sedas, SS, Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/192                B/T: B/R                  Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 10m
Video | Video 2

As an athletic, switch-hitting shortstop with pop from both sides, De Sedas has been a known commodity to MLB clubs for some time. He draws differing opinions from scouts: some see a true five-tool shortstop, some see a future third baseman with a projectable bat, and others don’t seem to see the first-round hype at all. The FSU commit entered the spring in the running to be among the first high school position prospects off the board, but has struggled to square up balls consistently, causing his draft stock to slide and some to question whether his skill set isn’t better suited for a showcase setting than elite in-game competition.

Defensively, he will show fluid actions at short, but can occasionally be a bit showy and make routine plays more difficult than need be. His frame and thickening physique could eventually push him off the position to third, where his arm would easily play. The big upside comes from the stick, as the switch hitter has shown easy plus power from both sides of the plate during BP and handled advanced arms well last summer on the showcase circuit. Even with a rough spring, De Sedas has elite upside and it’s easy to imagine him emerging as an elite collegiate bat should he find his way to Tallahassee.

Nico Hoerner, SS/2B, Stanford Univ.
Ht/Wt: 5’11”/195             B/T: R/R                  Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 0m
Video | Video 2 | Video 3

Hoerner shined in the Cape Cod League last summer, slashing .300/356/.456 with six homeruns and nearly as many walks (13) as strikeouts (16). He’s carried that momentum into a strong spring for Stanford, establishing himself as a day one talent with potential to remain up the middle as a professional. Hoerner has an advanced approach at the plate, with good bat-to-ball skills, and a compact, level stroke that allows him to spray the ball to all fields. He’ll occasionally show some vulnerability to breaking pitches, stepping in the bucket, and allowing his front hip to leak open. His in-game power has been mostly to the gaps, with limited over the fence potential, but there’s enough regular hard contact to project some growth at the next level.

Defensively, Hoerner has clean actions, and shows some range at shortstop, but his average arm could be better suited at second. Hoerner has above average speed, which allows him to take the extra base, while also helping him to steal 14 bases thus far this season. He is in play as early as the middle of the first round and in any event should come off the board comfortably on Day 1.

Matt McLain, SS, Arnold O. Beckham (Irvin, Calif.)
Ht/Wt: 5’10”/180          B/T: R/R                      Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 8m

Although McLain participated in many of the summer showcase events, his stock really began to climb during a strong spring campaign in what is an uncharacteristically down year for southern California prep talent. Though he’s just 5-foot-10, McLain has filled out since last summer while retaining athleticism and body control in his compact frame. Laterally, he ranges well at shortstop, with quick transfers and an above-average arm that offers some positional flexibility should the need for a move arise.

Offensively, McLain makes consistent hard contact with a compact right-handed stroke, which is suited more for doubles than over the fence power.  He has an advanced feel for the barrel with a good chance to hit for average at the next level. A UCLA commit, McLain has several suitors that could pop him in the top 40 picks, and if signable should come off the board somewhere in that range.

Jonathan Ornelas, SS, Raymond S. Kellis (Glendale, Ariz.)
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/165                B/T: R/R                  Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 0m

Known for his smooth actions in the field, Ornelas also stood out with the bat in Jupiter last fall as part of the AZ D-Backs Scout Team and has emerged as one of the more impressive hitters at the high school ranks this spring. With room to add additional strength in his frame, it’s possible Ornelas could reach average in-game pop, despite just a medium-thick build, given his penchant for hard contact.

Though his arm and hands are well suited for shortstop, he’s a fringy runner with limited range at shortstop at present. It’s possible he continues to refine his reads and first-step quickness, but the Tennessee commit may ultimately fit best at second base where his hands would play well and he wouldn’t be so stretched. Either way, Ornelas has put himself into Day 1 consideration with his strong spring and could be in play as early as the supplemental-first round, fitting well in the second.

Jeremiah Jackson, SS, St. Luke’s Episcopal (Mobile, Ala.)
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/165                B/T: R/R                  Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 2m

Part of a banner Mississippi State recruiting class that includes likely first-rounders Carter Stewart and Cole Winn, Jackson packs a lot of strength into his wiry 170-pound frame. Using a powerful right-handed swing with above-average bat speed, Jackson demonstrates impressive power to pull that showed up both in batting practice and in games on the showcase circuit, though he struggled at times to make consistent contact. This spring he’s shown a mature approach at the plate, with feel for the strike zone and the ability to spray line drives the other way – a marked improvement from his inconsistent at bats last summer.

Jackson is less refined defensively, showing stiff actions and inconsistent footwork at shortstop prompting some evaluators to believe he’ll need to shift to second or third base. His above-average arm strength would play at either spot. If a team believes he can stick at shortstop, it would certainly enhance his appeal, but even if he profiles best as an offensive-minded second or third baseman, he has the ceiling as an everyday regular.

Tyler Frank, SS/2B, Florida Atlantic Univ.
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/185                B/T: R/R                  Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 4m

Frank has been a contributor since arriving in Boca Raton and parlayed a strong sophomore campaign into a spot on the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. Though he plays shortstop for the Owls, Frank displayed positional flexibility over the summer, primarily chipping in at third base and in the outfield in deference to Oregon State’s Cadyn Grenier. Frank struggled with the National Team, slashing just .162/.298/.216 before heading to the Cape where he produced a more palatable .262/.290/.431 line.

There’s minimal wasted movement in Frank’s balanced compact swing, and he does a solid job of incorporating his lower half to produce average power. He’s an adequate defender at shortstop, with more than enough arm for the position, and the appeal of his offensive profile is augmented when paired with his defensive versatility. His upside is that of a versatile Ben Zobrist, Marwin Gonzalez type contributor.

Jeremy Eierman, SS/3B, Missouri State Univ.
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/205                B/T: R/R                  Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 9m
Video | Video 2

Though Eierman slashed .313/.431/.675 with 23 homeruns last spring, he struggled with wood in each of the last two summers, including a stint with the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team last year where he posted an OPS of just .407. Now a junior, Eierman has been solid, though not as impressive as last year, hitting .295 with nine homeruns heading into the post season.

Eierman has an average glove and a plus arm, giving him a chance to stick at shortstop long-term, but his lower-half actions and footwork seem to be a cleaner fit at the hot corner. At the plate, he displays plus bat speed through the zone. An aggressive hitter with a pull heavy approach, there’s some swing-and-miss to Eierman’s game, and an opportunity to improve his consistency and overall production with a more refined game plan. He’s an above-average runner and can be disruptive on the bases thanks to a heady approach and good reads (he’s also swiped 20 stolen bases in 23 attempts thus far this spring).

Raynel Delgado, SS/2B/3B, Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/180                B/T: B/R                  Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 2m
Video | Video 2

A descendent of Cuban-born parents, Delgado is a switch hitter with an appealing mix of offensive polish and defensive aptitude. At the plate, Delgado showed a patient approach – primarily from the left side – as well as above-average bat speed, good balance and feel for contact. Delgado flashes impressive leather at shortstop while showing off solid arm strength from the hole and impressive body control.

He looks the part of a solid defender at the next level and has a good shot at sticking at shortstop long term. Should Delgado slide over to second base he could be a plus defender there. He’s a solid average runner whose speed plays up some on the bases thanks to good reads and jumps, as well as efficient lines. He should slot somewhere into the top three rounds of the MLB Draft, and profiles as an up-the-middle defender with a high-contact offensive approach and solid on-base production.



Cadyn Grenier, SS/2B, Oregon State Univ.
Ht/Wt: 5’10”/185             B/T: R/R                  Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 7m
Video | Video 2

Nick Madrigal’s double play partner at Oregon State, Grenier is a fundamentally sound defender who reads the ball well off the bat and delivers strong, accurate throws across the diamond with an above-average arm. While his glove is ahead of his bat, Grenier has shown marked improvement with the bat year-over-year, slashing .335/.420/.483 as the Beavers enter post-season play.

Blaze Alexander, SS, Bishop Verot (Ft. Myers, Fla.)
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/165                B/T: R/R                  Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 11m

Clocked as high as 99 mph in throws across the diamond in a showcase setting, Alexander has more than enough arm for shortstop (or any position). The South Carolina commit has quick hands and flashes-average power with a balanced, lofted swing to elevate with ease, though he can struggle at times with timing due to some length in his swing and an inconsistent load.

Osiris Johnson, SS/2B, Encinal (Alameda, Calif.)
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/185                B/T: R/R                  Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 17y, 7m

Johnson is one of the youngest players in this class and there is some corresponding rawness in his game. A Cal State Fullerton commit, Johnson has above-average bat speed and room to add strength to his athletic frame as he matures. He already flashes above-average power at the plate.

Richie Palacios, SS, Towson Univ.
Ht/Wt: 5’11”/180               B/T: L/R                  Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 0m

Palacious has a penchant for getting on base, logging a .457 OBP for Towson this season with 52 walks compared to just 16 strikeouts. His plus speed is an asset on the bases, as he stole 25 bases in 26 attempts this season. Though he’s a rangy defender at shortstop, a fringy arm may necessitate a move to second base or center field.

Kendall Logan Simmons, 3B/SS, Tattnall Square Academy (Macon, Ga.)
Ht/Wt: 6’3”/190                B/T: R/R                  Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 1m

Committed to Georgia Tech, Simmons has an athletic build with room to add strength as he matures. Currently a bat-first shortstop, he has the athleticism and arm strength to play third base or shift to the outfield down the road, if need be. With his athleticism currently outdistancing his in-game production, Simmons might benefit from additional growth at Georgia Tech, where he could

Brandon Dieter, SS/RHP, South Hills (West Covina, Calif.)
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/175                B/T: R/R                  Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 6m

Committed to Stanford, Deiter is a well-rounded prospect, showing athletic actions with the glove, and explosive hands with impressive balance at the plate. He showed well with USA Baseball’s 18U National Team at the end of last summer and has put together a solid spring leading up to the draft.

Sean Guilbe, SS/3B, Muhlenberg (Reading, Pa.)
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/215                B/T: R/R                  Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 5m

Guilbe is a big, strong kid who doesn’t get cheated in the batter’s box, taking powerful hacks that successfully incorporate his lower half. His defensive home yet to be determined, though his average arm strength and below-average speed could shift him to a corner at the next level.

Mateo Gil, SS/RHP, Timber Creek (Fort Worth, Texas)
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/190                B/T: R/R                  Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 17y, 11m

Gil utilizes a flat bat path with a moderately high finish to create good plane overlap in his swing and creating lots of opportunities for hard contact. The TCU commit is a solid defender at the six spot and projects very well on the mound, as well, where he’s reached as high as 94 mph with his fastball.

Nick Dunn, 2B, Univ. of Maryland
Ht/Wt: 5’10”/175                 B/T: L/R               Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 4m
Video | Video 2

Dunn has a strong track record with wood, showing well in each of the past two summers for the Brewster Whitecaps in the Cape Cod League posting a combined slash line of .321/.394/.415 over a large 287 at-bat sample. At bat-first second baseman, Dunn has continued to rake for Maryland this spring, and has shown an uptick in power by slugging 10 homeruns. Dunn is limited defensively, with a fringy glove and a below average arm that confines him to second base.

Addison Barger, SS, King (Tampa, Fla.)
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/175                 B/T: L/R                    Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 6m 

A Florida commit, Bargner has consistently improved his moderate skill set across the board, with his best asset being a plus arm that plays very well on the left side. With his offensive game still developing, and plenty of opportunity to compete for a starting gig as a freshman in Gainesville next spring, he may be a tough sign if he drops too low on Day 2.

Ford Proctor, SS, Rice Univ.
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/190                B/T: R/R                    Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 8m

A steady contributor throughout his collegiate career at Rice, Proctor has stepped up his game offensively this season, slashing .346/.431/.515 while leading the Owls with eight home runs. Proctor is an adequate defender at shortstop, though his range and arm are likely better suited for second base.

Cory Acton, 2B/3B, American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.)
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/180                   B/T: L/R                  Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 19y, 2m
Video | Video 2            

Acton is a polished hitter with feel for barrel and a compact left-handed stroke, capable of stinging line-drives to all fields. A Florida commit, he’s an average runner who should stick up the middle at the next level, most likely at second base where his range and arm fit best.

Kevin Vargas, SS/2B, International Baseball Academy (Las Mareas de Salinas, P.R.)
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/175                B/T: R/R                  Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 3m

The top Puerto Rican player in this class, Vargas is a smooth defender at shortstop with a strong arm and above-average speed. The FIU commit utilizes a minimal load and leg lift with a swing that is presently geared more towards contact than power.

Terrin Vavra, SS, Univ. of Minnesota
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/185                   B/T: L/R               Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 0m 

Vavra has been the catalyst the best team in the Big Ten Conference, slashing .385/.458/.620 and leading the Gophers with 10 homeruns. A polished hitter, Vavra controls the strike zone well, having drawn nearly twice as many walks (29) as strikeouts (17). He’ll likely be given the chance to stick shortstop, but limited range and arm strength may necessitate a move to second base.

Jeremy Pena, SS, Univ. of Maine
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/180                        B/T: R/R          Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 20y, 8m

The son of MLB veteran Gerónimo Peña, Jeremy is one of the best defensive shortstops in this class. He ranges well to either side, with soft hands and an above-average arm. Although he struggled in the Cape this summer, and there is a question as to whether he will hit enough to be a down-order stick in a big league lineup, Pena is slashing .309/.398/.477 while using his above-average speed to leg out 5 triples and steal eight bases in nine attempts.

Kody Clemens, 2B, Univ. of Texas
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/185                   B/T: L/R               Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 22y, 0m

The youngest son of Roger Clemens, Kody was a steady performer throughout his first two years in Austin but took his game to a new level offensively this spring. In route to Big 12 Conference Player of the year honors, Clemens slashed .341/.431/.687 while ranking among the national leaders in homeruns with 19. Though he’s played both second and third base for the Longhorns throughout his collegiate career, Clemens’ arm and range are best suited for second base as a professional.