Inbox: Volpe leads Yankees' loaded middle infield prospects

March 3rd, 2022

No preamble this week, just your questions and my answers. Let's get to it...

What are the top 3 systems in terms of just [middle infield] prospects? -- @antman_92

It's always interesting looking at farm systems in regards to specific position groups. In terms of second base and shortstop prospects, the Yankees stand at the forefront.

Anthony Volpe is one of the best prospects in baseball, Oswald Peraza is perhaps the most underrated shortstop on our end-of-2021 Top 100 Prospects list and Trey Sweeney (perhaps destined for third base) was one of the best college bats in the 2021 Draft. Roderick Arias was the top talent in the 2021-22 international class, Oswaldo Cabrera slammed 29 homers in the upper levels of the Minors last year, Alexander Vargas has four solid-to-plus tools ... I could go on, but you get the point.

The Guardians rank second in middle-infield talent, starting with three players who will make our 2022 Top 100 (Gabriel Arias, Brayan Rocchio, Tyler Freeman) and Arizona Fall League batting champion Jose Tena, backed up by a slew of up-and-coming youngsters. The Rays round out the top three, led by Vidal Brujan, Greg Jones, Xavier Edwards, Carson Williams, Willy Vasquez and Carlos Colmenarez, with plenty more depth behind them.

The Dodgers, Pirates and Rangers also are worthy of consideration. Pittsburgh has the best second baseman/shortstop prospect combo with Nick Gonzales and Oneil Cruz, followed by the Red Sox with Nick Yorke and Marcelo Mayer.

How high could Cam Collier go? -- @thomasharaughty

The son of former big leaguer Lou Collier, Cam was one of the best prep prospects for the 2023 Draft until he reclassified to the 2022 Draft last summer. He opted to graduate early from Mount Paran Christian HS (Kennesaw, Ga.) and -- shades of Bryce Harper -- spent what would have been his junior high school season against tougher competition in junior college.

Ranked No. 20 on MLB Pipeline's Draft Top 100, Collier has batted .351/.473/.611 with five homers and more walks (14) than strikeouts (11) in his first 23 games at Chipola (Fla.) JC. He's an advanced left-handed hitter with at least solid power potential, as well as a strong arm and enough quickness to get the job done at third base. He'll be one of the youngest players (age 17) and have one of the loftier offensive ceilings in the Draft, and he could hit his way into the first 5-10 picks by July.

What would it take to for José Rodriguez to become a Top 100 prospect? After last year's break out season? -- @JayDBaseball

Rodriguez signed with the White Sox for just $50,000 out of the Dominican Republic in February 2018 and didn't make his full-season debut until three years later, so he hasn't garnered a lot of prospect hype. That's starting to change, however, after he batted .301/.338/.469 with 14 homers and 30 steals in 111 games while reaching Double-A at age 20.

Rodriguez stands out most with his bat and has a chance for average to plus tools across the board. To make the Top 100, he mainly just needs to refine his abilities. His to-do list includes developing more patience at the plate, driving balls in the air more regularly and improving his range and reliability at shortstop.

Who do you like for the Rangers at #3 in the Draft? -- @TimWebbsite

Just two weeks into the college season and four months before the Draft, projecting specific picks is mostly guesswork. Assuming that the first two players on our Draft Top 100 (high school position players Druw Jones and Termarr Johnson) go to the Orioles and the Diamondbacks with the first two choices, I would expect the Rangers to dip into the deepest part of the first-round talent pool and come away with a college bat.

Louisiana State third baseman/outfielder Jacob Berry is the top all-around offensive player in the college ranks, and he's my best guess for now. Cal Poly's Brooks Lee is the best pure college hitter available and offers more defensive value, most likely at second or third base. Texas could opt for another talented bat in Texas Tech second baseman Jace Jung and reunite him with his older brother Josh, the No. 8 overall pick in 2019.