Best tools in the Draft: Corner infielders
While middle infielders constitute the strength of the 2015 Draft, their counterparts on the corners pale in comparison. There are no Kris Bryants or Anthony Rendons this year, and there might not be a future first or third baseman selected in the upper half of the first round.
Griffin (Ga.) High's Cornelius Griffin, currently a shortstop but ticketed for third base, is the lone corner infielder who looks like a lock to go in the first round. Concordia Lutheran High (Tomball, Texas) third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes is the only other one with a decent chance to get plucked in the first 36 picks.
The 2015 Draft will take place Monday through Wednesday, June 10, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Monday at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 75 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of Day 2 begins with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, with exclusive coverage of Day 3 beginning at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of over 1,700 Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Randolph and Hayes are the highest-rated corner infielders on the MLBPipeline.com Draft Top 200. Here are the top five, along with their rankings:
19. Randolph, 3B, Griffin (Ga.) HS
44. Hayes, 3B, Concordia Lutheran HS (Tomball, Texas)
46. Chris Shaw, 1B, Boston College
49. Tyler Nevin, 3B, Poway (Calif.) HS
59. Josh Naylor, 1B, St. Joan of Arc Catholic SS (Mississauga, Ont.)
Hit: Hayes (60)
Hayes, the son of Charlie Hayes, who spent 14 years in the big leagues as a third baseman, grew up around the game, and it shows. An advanced hitter for a high schooler, he concentrates on drilling line drives from gap to gap rather than trying to crush balls out of the park.
Power: Shaw (65)
A massive 6-foot-3, 248-pounder, Shaw generates big pop to all fields from the left side of the plate. He led the Cape Cod League with eight homers last summer and bashed 11 longballs in 40 games this spring despite breaking the hamate bone in his right hand. He's the best power hitter among all the college hitters in this Draft, while Naylor is tops among the prep class.
Run: Travis Maezes, 3B, Michigan (50)
Corner infielders aren't known for their speed, and Maezes ranks as the best among the Top 200 with just average speed. He was slowed at times this spring by oblique and knee injuries, which also affected his ability to drive the ball and negatively affected his stock.
Arm: Maezes (65)
Maezes saw time at both shortstop and third base for the Wolverines, but he fits better at the latter position. He has more than enough arm strength to make all of the throws from the left side of the infield and some scouts would like to try him behind the plate.
Field: Hayes (55)
He might not be the quickest third baseman, but Hayes has worked diligently to improve his agility. He has made himself into a solid defender with soft hands, a strong arm and keen instincts.
Highest ceiling: Randolph
Randolph is one of the best all-around high school hitters available. He combines bat speed, strength, patience and pitch recognition, and if everything comes together, he could be a .280 hitter with 20 homers per season while providing average defense at the hot corner.
Highest floor: Hayes
Among this group, Hayes is the best bet to hit and to play quality defense. He isn't as heralded, but Grainger High (Rutledge, Tenn.) third baseman Trey Cabbage is a similar player with a little more power upside and a little less glovework.