Best tools in the Draft: Middle infielders
Finding talent up the middle is often something like the Lost Ark for Major League organizations. The search is constant and the discovery can, at times, be elusive.
The 2015 Draft class might provide a bit of an elixir for that ailment. Shortstops, particularly at the college level, are a strength of the class, especially in terms of depth. There aren't as many at the high school level, but that is partially offset by the fact that the No. 1 player on MLB.com's Top 200 Draft Prospects list is Orlando area high school shortstop Brendan Rodgers.
There is a chance that the top three picks in the Draft could all be shortstops in Rodgers, Dansby Swanson and Alex Bregman. There are 17 shortstops on the Top 200, with 13 of them coming in the first 100.
To find out when all these middle infielders get taken, tune into wall-to-wall coverage of the Draft from June 8-10. It all starts on June 8 with an hour-long preview show at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network and MLB.com. Live coverage of the first two rounds -- 70 picks in total -- is on MLB Network and MLB.com at 7 p.m. ET. MLB.com provides exclusive live pick-by-pick coverage of Day 2 of the Draft, covering rounds 3-10, starting at 1 p.m. ET on June 9. Day 3 coverage commences on MLB.com on June 10 at noon ET.
The top five middle infielders, with their ranking on the list:
1. Brendan Rodgers, SS, Lake Mary HS, Fla.
2. Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt
4. Alex Bregman, SS, LSU
29. Kevin Newman, SS, Arizona
34. Richie Martin, SS, Florida
Which middle infielders have the best tools, using the 20-80 scouting scale? Rodgers, not surprisingly, is the only one to appear more than once. Grades for that tool are listed in parentheses.
Hit: Scott Kingery, 2B, Arizona (60)
Kingery joins some other college middle infielders with 60 hit tools, including Swanson, Bregman and Newman. But Kingery's knack for contact -- he hit over .400 for most of the season -- gives him the edge.
Power: Rodgers (60)
While he doesn't quite have the most raw power of any prospect on the Draft Top 200, he's not far off, and he might be the best bet to tap into that power consistently in games, thanks to his plus bat speed.
Run: Alonzo Jones, SS, Columbus HS, Ga. (80)
Jones has top of the scale speed that serves him well on the basepaths and in the field. Some think the switch-hitter is destined to move to center field, but a team could send the Vandy commit out as a shortstop to see what he looks like.
Arm: Rodgers (60)
Several shortstops have 60 arms, including Martin, San Diego's Kyle Holder and two-way high schooler Austin Riley. Rodgers' arm is strong and true, giving him the ability to make accurate throws with zip from any spot in the infield.
Defense: Kyle Holder, SS, San Diego (60)
There are some scouts who put a 70 on Holder's defensive ability. While that might be a tad generous, there is consensus that he is the best defensive shortstop in this Draft class.
Highest ceiling: Rodgers
He is the No. 1 guy on the Top 200 list, so it stands to reason he'd have the highest ceiling of this, or any group. He has the chance to be an impact player on both sides of the ball, especially with the bat, even if he ends up moving to third.
Highest floor: Bregman
The argument could be made that Swanson is the guy with the highest floor, but Bregman's bat plus his makeup should mean a fairly rapid ascension to the big leagues and to stay there.