Breaking down the Draft's middle infielders
2010 class of prospects may yield few shortstops
Finding talent up the middle is a priority at every Draft. It's also easier said than done, particularly discovering someone who can stick at shortstop.
This year is no different. While there is some intriguing talent in the middle infield, it's unclear which prospects might be able to stay at short. But with high-ceiling talent like Manny Machado and advanced college players like Christian Colon, there does appear to be a mix for people to choose from in the first few rounds.
Yordy Cabrera, Lakeland HS, Fla.
Strong and lean, Cabrera looks the part of a ballplayer. He's got as much arm strength as anyone in this group, but at his size -- 6-foot-4, 190 pounds -- most feel he'll eventually move over to third. He's got the hands and ability to be fine there, and he might also be athletic enough to handle a corner outfield spot. He's got plenty of raw power, but the question is whether he'll make consistent enough contact to tap that power. The team that thinks he can will take him off the board fairly early.
Garin Cecchini, Barbe HS, La.
It's been hard to get a read on Cecchini. He came into the spring as one of the top high school bats, but he tore the ACL in his right knee and had surgery in May. It's not the kind of thing that's expected to be a long-term issue, though. He probably was going to move to third, anyway; the knee surgery might just hasten that move. He's committed to LSU, and it will be interesting to see if a team takes him early enough and/or offers a sufficiently enticing bonus to lure him away from honoring that commitment.
Christian Colon, Cal State Fullerton
Colon got off to a very slow start in his junior season, but then really got it going, hitting for average and power and looking like the guy who was Team USA's best hitter over the summer. He's got good bat speed and rarely strikes out. Colon's individual tools don't grade out as better than average, but he's the type of player whose sum is greater than each of his parts. He plays the game the right way, and smartly. Though his range is limited, there are those who think he can stick at shortstop because of his instincts and positioning. A move to the right side of the infield might be better, where he can be a very good all-around second baseman.
Jedd Gyorko, West Virginia
Teams that like Gyorko do so because of his bat. He's got a generally good approach with good bat speed, which should allow him to hit for average and some power at the next level. He's the kind of hitter who shouldn't take very long to be big league-ready. The only question is which position he'll play. A shortstop at West Virginia, he won't stay there, with most feeling that second base is his most likely home. Even there, some question whether he's got the range and arm for it. Still, there aren't many advanced college bats, and Gyorko's should come off the board pretty quickly, as a result.
Jacoby Jones, HS, Miss.
Though he's 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, some think Jones is athletic enough to stay at the position. He has enough range and good footwork, so there's a chance. He's got terrific bat speed, meaning he should hit for average and with plenty of power. Even if some day he had to move to third, he might have enough bat to profile well at a corner position. He won't be the first high school shortstop to go off the board, but he may not be that far behind.
Manny Machado, Miami Brito HS, Fla.
As the spring progressed, Machado had separated himself as one of the top two or three prospects in this Draft class, and clearly the best high school position player to be found. The Miami-area infielder has gotten comparisions to Alex Rodriguez for his size and where he's from, but in some ways, he's got more of a Derek Jeter look to him. Though he's big and some think he'll outgrow the position, there are just as many who feel he's got the arm and actions to stay at shortstop long-term. He can swing the bat, has plenty of power and is the type of athlete who can do everything on the field with ease. That's why he's likely to be selected within the first few picks on June 7.
Kellen Sweeney, HS, Iowa
The younger brother of A's outfielder Ryan Sweeney, Kellen is a fairly polished left-handed hitter who's been on radar screens for a while. He doesn't project to have much power, but is more the type who makes consistent contact and could be a No. 2 hitter. He's fairly athletic, and while his arm is average, there is hope he can stay at shortstop. If he has to move, he could end up being a very good second baseman. His value is obviously better if he can stay up the middle and with his bloodlines, he shouldn't have to wait for too long to hear his name called.
Kolbrin Vitek, Ball State
A combination of a lack of hitting depth at the college level and strong performances by Vitek had this second baseman moving up Draft boards as the spring progressed. He's one of the better pure hitters in the class and has some power. He's also got well-above-average speed and should be a basestealing threat as a pro. He's not great at second, defensively, and there have been some teams that have tried him out in the outfield, where his speed and athleticism should play well. Vitek's name has been mentioned as high as the top 10, and he should be gone before the first round is over.
A first-round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays a year ago, Washington didn't sign and instead went to Chipola Junior College. He got off to a very slow start, though, displaying a lack of energy that concerned some scouts. He started to warm up as the season wore on, showing the bat that made him a first-round pick last year. Washington can flat-out hit when he's locked in, and he's got plus speed. What he doesn't have is a true position. He's not a very good second baseman, and he might have to play center field, though his below-average arm might be a concern there. Washington has been a hard player to place in terms of Draft stock, though his package of tools will surely interest some.
Tony Wolters, HS, Calif.
A new rule in California that precludes high school players from trying out for a professional team while the high school season is going on had Wolters, who had worked out with the Toronto Blue Jays, sitting on the sidelines as his team hit the playoffs. Seemingly more a misunderstanding than anything else, the incident shouldn't hurt Wolters' Draft status much. A baseball rat, Wolters has the kind of offensive skill set that might be perfect for a No. 2 hitter, as he hits to all fields with moderate power. He's not the biggest guy in the world, but he's got the tools to stay at shortstop. There are some who think he's likely to move over to second, but even there, he's got the chance to be a dynamic player on both sides of the ball.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.