With the 2020 MLB Draft on the horizon, our extensive draft coverage here at RotoFanatic continues.
We kicked off this year’s evaluations by writing up both the catchers and corner infielders yesterday, and today we’ll take an in-depth look into the top draft-eligible middle infielders in this class.
This is probably the weakest positional group of the draft, but it’s headlined by two potential game-changing talents. Nick Gonzales has tormented college pitching each of the last two seasons and Ed Howard is one of the top prep prospects from the Midwest in recent memory.
After several hours of churning through video and information, these are the consensus rankings agreed upon by both of our draft analysts. Without further delay, let’s get into it:
1. Nick Gonzales, 2B, 21 years old, New Mexico State
A virtual unknown coming out of high school, Gonzales burst onto the scene for the Aggies as a freshman in 2018. While his first-year numbers were impressive, his historic sophomore season made them look pedestrian. Gonzales slashed an unbelievable .432/.532/.773 with 16 home runs and 80 RBI en route to earning basically every accolade a college baseball player could dream of. Critics still questioned his overall offensive abilities, however, and attributed his success to the hitter-friendly park that New Mexico State calls home. In response to the question marks, Gonzales went on to slaughter Cape Cod league pitching with a wood bat and also won the league MVP honors.
There’s a lot to love about his offensive game. Gonzales has purely electric bat speed and controls his barrel well in the zone. He doesn’t have much raw power in his 5-foot-10, 190-pound frame, but instead creates power with the quick-twitch he has in his hands. His true hitting ability rivals anyone in this class and Gonzales bat will play at the professional level. The questions now lie with his glove, as Gonzales is an average at best defender that is strictly limited to second base in the field. He does have athleticism with above-average run times, but he just doesn’t get it done with the glove. Nonetheless, his bat should play enough to masquerade the value he loses defensively and it’s not like he won’t be able to hold his own at second base. Gonzales is eerily similar to former first-round pick Keston Hiura and the two have drawn several comparisons to each other over the last few months.
Let's slow things down a little 😎
Here's the swing of New Mexico State infielder Nick Gonzales.
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) April 28, 2020
2. Ed Howard, SS, 18 years old, Mt. Carmel HS (IL.)
Howard is in a league of his own in the 2020 draft, representing the only true shortstop likely to stick at the position with a first-round grade. When you talk about Howard it’s all projectability. The Mt. Carmel product has a frame scouts dream on. Long levers, broad shoulders, and a high waist. Not only are the tools polished, but they’ll likely continue to grow and develop for years to come. Howard is smooth on the field. His defensive actions are fluid and precise. The arm is already a plus, and his defense is already above average. He’s a true future shortstop through-and-through. The lanky 6-foot-2 prepster makes every play to his right, left, and center, all the while displaying body control. At the plate, Howard still has a ways to go, but flashes plus potential at every turn. At his peak, Howard probably represents an above-average hitter with below or fringe-average power. There’s more to dream on with his frame, but as it stands, there’s strength gains and swing tinkering that needs to happen. A University of Oklahoma commit, it’s unlikely he ends up on campus as most teams covet the opportunity to acquire a sure thing up the middle.
The top high school shortstop prospect in the 2020 class right now?
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) October 9, 2019
3. Nick Loftin, SS/UTL, 21 years old, Baylor
Loftin may not be viewed as a first-round talent by most evaluators, but him being arguably the top college shortstop in an already unique draft could ultimately lead to him being selected towards the end of the first round. That’s not any knock on him at all, he’s a talented player with an advanced glove and feel to hit, but it’s just an overall down year for shortstop prospects in general. He brings plenty of defensive versatility to the table as well, originally starting his college career off as a left fielder and also playing both third and second base throughout his three seasons with Baylor. Loftin’s approach at the plate is simple and to the point. He doesn’t try to do too much with the ball, focusing on making contact, minimizing swing-and-misses, and spraying line drives. This isn’t someone who’s going to provide much power, but he’s going to get on base and use all fields. Loftin’s ceiling is fairly capped because of his limited power production, although there’s certainly an avenue where he makes it to the big leagues as a versatile asset.
4. Alika Williams, SS, 21 years old, Arizona State
A serious case can be made that Alika Williams is the best collegiate shortstop in this class. At 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, Williams is on the lighter side but has the shoulders to suggest there’s more good weight on the way. Probably the most likely candidate to play shortstop at the big league level, the Sun Devil has smooth actions at the position and shows off a very accurate throwing arm. Williams has quick feet and a good first step that allows him to get in a good position defensively where his soft hands can do the talking. At the plate, Williams looks similar to Trea Turner; a slender build with a smooth gap-to-gap swing. The jury is still out on whether he can ever hit for enough power to become an impact player on offense. If his predecessor Turner can run into 19 home runs at the big league level on a 185-pound frame, so too can Williams with proper development.
5. Jordan Westburg, SS, 21 years old, Mississippi State
Westburg, to me, is one of the more intriguing players in this class. A physical and strong 6-foot-3, 190-pound shortstop, Westburg and Justin Foscue formed arguably the country’s best middle-infield duo this season. Westburg doesn’t have a refined approach at the plate, he swings at absolutely everything and primarily hits the ball to his pull-side, and it’s a below-average hit tool right now. He’s got some bat speed with strong hands and enough raw bat strength for me to comfortably say he has enough power to hit 25+ home runs at the professional level. That number will only be reached if Westburg drastically improves his approach and cuts down on the swing-and-miss numbers. Should he end up getting picked by the right team that can fully develop his tools, Westburg could be an intriguing draft day steal in a few years down the road.
6. Colt Keith, SS/3B, 18 years old, Biloxi HS (MS.)
If you’re a fan of Chase Utley, Colt Keith might just be your next favorite player. A sweet, compact left-handed swing has many comparing the Biloxi HS product to the former Philly great. Keith has a very loud barrel for his age and controls the strike zone with ease. Already 6-foot-3 and pushing 200 pounds, he’s a force at the plate. The hit tool already projects at least average and the game power could touch plus. That being said, his size may ultimately force him off the position. As it stands, he certainly has the range and arm to be given the opportunity to stick at shortstop. Whether or not Keith can continue to develop his footwork and the reliability in his hands will determine his future home on the diamond. Even if pushed to third base, Keith’s bat is more than capable enough to handle the expectations of the hot corner. An Arizona State signee, this future Sun Devil will garner more than his fair share of interest in the draft. It’s pretty up in the air whether he’ll go pro or report to Tempe.
7. Drew Bowser, SS/3B, 18 years old, Harvard Westlake (CA.)
A teammate of potential top-15 pick Pete Crow-Armstrong, Bowser is another intriguing prospect hailing from the perennial California powerhouse. He’s a proportional 6-foot-3, 205-pound athlete with plenty of room to fill out his frame. Bowser has made significant improvements in his swing over the last two seasons, shortening it up completely and driving the baseball with more authority. His hit tool projects to be a slight tick below average, but there’s no doubt that he has plus raw power in that athletic frame with room to add more should he continue to grow. As things stand right now, Bowser has played shortstop for most of his amateur career and even on the summer circuit last year. The actions and limited athleticism scream that a move to third base is coming soon. That won’t be the worst thing in the world for Bowser, where his limited lateral range and above-average arm strength will play up. He’s an intriguing prep talent and a name-to-know moving forward, but Bowser’s commitment to Stanford is fairly strong. It’s highly likely that we see him on campus this fall.
Drew Bowser is FUN.
✅ Power projection
✅ Strong arm
✅ Good hands at 3B
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) November 19, 2019
8. Carson Tucker, SS, 18 years old, Mountain Pointe (AZ.)
You can’t start a conversation about Carson Tucker without mentioning his brother, Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Cole Tucker. Unfortunately for the latter, that may change in a few short years. Carson is every bit the defender his brother was coming out of Mountain Pointe in 2014. Tucker is already a plus runner with above-average actions at shortstop. The arm grades out above average. At this point, it’s just a matter of whether he’s done growing. At 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, Tucker looks like a shortstop right now. Whether that remains the case is to be determined as Tucker is in the midst of quite a growth spurt. Over the past year he’s gotten taller and much stronger. At the plate, the bat has become far louder. It’s a short, compact swing that produces plenty of gap-to-gap power, but Tucker also ran into more balls over the fence this year, especially pull-side. There were more question marks surrounding his brother’s value six years ago and Carson may end up having the greater upside when all is said and done.
9. Anthony Servideo, SS, 21 years old, Ole Miss
Servideo and his big, loud blonde head of hair will represent a very fun pick for whoever lands him. A smooth defender, Servideo gets high marks for his lateral ability, as well as the ability to plant and throw. He’s dealt with some focus errors in the past but looked much improved over the abbreviated 2020 season at Ole Miss. The bat is going to be what dictates his ceiling. After a brutal summer in the Cape Cod League, Servideo slashed .390/.575/.695 over 17 contests in Oxford, plugging five home runs — more than his freshman and sophomore years combined. He’s also a plus runner who figures to snag his fair share of extra bases if given the at-bats. At worst, he’s a fringe-average hitter with below-average power — a solid backup. At his best, you may be looking at an above-average hitter with fringe-average power. Couple those ceilings with an already impressive defender and Servideo has the makings of an above-average regular at the big league level.
10. Freddy Zamora, SS, 21 years old, Miami
Had it not been for a nasty knee injury in 2020, Freddy Zamora may very well have been the first shortstop off the board in this years’ draft. The Miami Hurricane can do it all. He’s an above-average defender with an above-average arm. Prior to the injury, he was an above-average runner who could comfortably handle the position. At the plate, Zamora was showing above-average potential and the possibility of average power. It’s a sound approach at the plate that results in his fair share of walks and a lack of strikeouts, a rarity in Miami’s aggressive philosophy. The whole package is very intriguing, especially if a team can look past the injury concerns. It should be noted, Zamora was suspended for the first four games of the 2020 season for a violation of team rules, so it’s not the most pristine resume off the field. That’s not to say it’s anything worth worrying about, but it’s not spotless, cut and dry. If the knee heals to 100%, it wouldn’t shock us whatsoever if Zamora ended up the best pro shortstop on this list.
11. Cade Horton, SS/RHP, 18 years old, Norman HS (OK.)
Much like San Diego State’s Casey Schmitt, Horton is a legitimate two-way prospect in this class. He’s going to find his way onto our starting pitcher ranks, that will come out later in the week, and could honestly be drafted as a shortstop alone were he not a pitcher. He’s a highly athletic 6-foot-2, 190-pound prospect that has room to add muscle onto his frame. Horton’s a power-over-hit type of bat with raw pull-side juice. His offensive game needs more work, but Horton’s glove and athleticism in the field are big-league caliber. His hands are soft, his feet field in a fluid rhythm, and he moves well laterally to cover enough ground. Pair all that with a true 60-grade arm that can touch 96 mph on the mound and you have a guy capable of sticking at shortstop throughout his professional career. We’ll have to wait and see how teams value him, or if he even gets drafted, but most evaluators like Horton as a pitcher more.
12. Hayden Cantrelle, 21, Louisiana
Hayden Cantrelle is just the type of player that has enough tools to make an impact on the field on any given night. Just 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, he’s not the most imposing figure, but what he lacks in size he makes up for with intelligence, instincts, and grit. Cantrelle was a stalwart at the top of Louisiana’s lineup for the last two years and performed well during the Cape in 2019. With that helium, Cantrelle came into the 2020 collegiate year with a good bit of expectation but struggled mightily out of the gates. The day-one buzz has faded a bit, but Cantrelle still figures to be selected in the first three rounds of the draft. He’s a 60 runner and a fringe-average hitter, though he’ll probably never be much more than a single-digit home run guy. He’s a good reliable defender and there’s a lot to like in the makeup of the player. It’s easy to see Cantrelle carving out a big-league role for himself down the road.
13. Milan Tolentino, SS, 18 years old, Santa Margarita (CA.)
Tolentino is a name that’s been heating up in draft circles over the last few weeks and rightfully so. He has an interesting skill-set that could ultimately pave a path to the big leagues for the 18-year-old UCLA commit. Tolentino’s a pest at the plate, working deep counts and not trying to do too much. His bat travels on a level path through the zone and produces steady line drive contact to all fields. You’re not going to get much power production out of him, mostly because he doesn’t try to elevate or lift the ball at the plate. He projects to have an average hit tool, but will consistently compete at the plate and not strike out much. Tolentino’s glove is his calling card to the big leagues. He’s a virtual lock to stick at shortstop with excellent lateral range, quick feet, and a plus arm. All in all, Tolentino is a gamer-type player that is going to grind out at-bats, all while providing excellent defense at an up-the-middle position. His signability is a question mark as a SoCal kid committed to UCLA, but don’t be surprised if he ends up being like Nick Ahmed down the road.
With 3 hits and a couple nice defensive plays, @UCLABaseball commit & 2020 #MLBDraft prospect Milan Tolentino tops @JimCallisMLB's list of top performers from yesterday's @MLB High School @AllStarGame. Here's the complete list: https://t.co/wn2E8pWqIP pic.twitter.com/Kyk2CmxSpY
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 7, 2019
14. Jimmy Glowenke, INF, 21, Dallas Baptist
Dallas Baptist has become a bit of a hotbed for big-league infielders of late and Glowenke figures to continue that trend. Following in the footsteps of fellow Patriot infielders Ryan Goins and Ben Zobrist, Glowenke has a good chance of breaking onto a big-league roster someday thanks in large part to his bat. Glowenke has a chance to be a 55 hitter and register 10-15 home runs per season. He’s not the defender Zobrist is, but he should be able to stick on the dirt, albeit probably at second base. Glowenke has a below-average arm and is a below-average runner. He is finally fully recovered from Tommy John surgery that took place in the summer of 2019 and should be ready to go when baseball resumes. Barely 21 years old for this draft, Glowenke does have a little bit of leverage should he want to return to school and prove he’s a capable defender.
15. Yohandy Morales, SS/3B, 18 years old, Braddock HS (FL.)
‘YoYo’ Morales is another extremely exciting shortstop that likely profiles well, not at shortstop. At 6-foot-4, Morales is an impressive specimen, especially at the plate, but in the field, he lacks a quick first step and struggles with body control while moving to his left and right. There’s more than enough arm for the profile, and the routine plays are made with ease, but Morales almost certainly projects to move to third base before debuting. The frame is super projectable and provided a good player development program, it’s not hard to see Morales turning into a plus power guy at shortstop. The hit tool needs refinement as he too often finds himself chasing breaking balls away, but when he gets a hold of one, they’re ripped. The swing is still a little disjointed and long at times, but there’s a lot to like in what the final package could look like here. Morales is committed to Miami and could really go in either direction — sign or go to campus. If a team loves him, he’d be a sound investment.
16. Cole Foster, SS/2B, 18 years old, Plano Senior HS (TX.)
A true sleeper prospect in this class, Foster is one of my personal favorite prospects. He isn’t a hulking figure by any means but don’t let that discourage you from him. He’s a true switch-hitter that does damage from both sides of the plate with a 55-grade hit tool and 45-grade power. It seems like he elevates the ball more from the left side, while his right-handed swing is more gap-to-gap. He isn’t an uber-athlete like others on this list, relying on natural instincts and a strong arm to stick at shortstop moving forward. Foster is committed to Auburn and it’s pretty likely that he gets to campus unless a team gives him a lucrative offer he can’t refuse. If that’s the case, remember this name for the 2023 MLB Draft as a potential top 50 pick.
— Five Tool Baseball (@FiveTool) July 9, 2019
17. Nick Yorke, 2B/SS, 18 years old, Archbishop Mitty (CA.)
Yorke was on the rise prior to the coronavirus shutdown, performing well against the always talented California high school competition. His feel to hit and pure hit tool are right up there with any prep bat. He consistently makes solid line-drive contact from the right side of the plate and even flashed some up-the-middle power prior to the nationwide cancellation. That power tool could improve as he gets older and Yorke could one day be a 60-hit, 50-power type of player. Yorke primarily played shortstop throughout his high school career but he profiles best as a second baseman moving forward. He’s also still recovering from a shoulder injury suffered during his junior season. An Arizona commit, Yorke could be a sneaky third-or-fourth round sign if a team offers him the right number. If not, he’ll blossom with the Wildcats.
18. Shay Whitcomb, INF, 21 years old, San Diego
If we’re being totally honest, Shay Whitcomb should probably be getting more respect than he is. The biggest wart on Whitcomb’s profile is the doubt surrounding his ability to stick at shortstop. Already 6-foot-3 with broad shoulders, Whitcomb has the body of an impact player but lacks the arm and probably the hands to play baseball’s most demanding position. As a result, the San Diego product will more than likely slide over to second base where his stature will resemble that of industry mainstay DJ LeMahieu. The latter’s profile isn’t too dissimilar from Whitcomb either. A bat-first slugger, Whitcomb may have an average hit tool and average game power. That’s no small feat for a second baseman, and it may be enough to force his way into a big-league lineup someday. He was a high-performer in the Cape this past summer and continued to mash into the 2020 collegiate campaign. If given another 8 weeks, it’s possible Whitcomb could have slugged his way into the Top 50 picks in the draft. As it stands, there’s a strong likelihood he’s selected June 11 and will make for an intriguing offensive option in a team’s system.
19. Luke Waddell, INF, 21 years old, Georgia Tech
Waddell made a name for himself with Team USA last summer after slashing .300/.419/.417 over a 16-game span. There’s basically no projection left to his 5-foot-9, 180-pound frame, but the left-handed-hitting Wadell is an absolute gamer that just flat-out grinds at-bats. He walked nearly four percent more than he struck out in college and his bat-to-ball skills are some of the best in the class. His approach is advanced, even for a college bat, and rarely swings at pitches you’d expect someone of his age to swing at. As you could probably imagine, Waddell has virtually no power to his game. He sprays line drives to all fields and just tries to make contact instead of selling out for power when he just doesn’t have it. Defensively, Waddell doesn’t project as a future shortstop and will likely play second base or all over the diamond. It isn’t a sexy profile at all but one that should get the job done.
20. Harold Coll, SS, 18 years old, Georgia Premier (GA.)
Another sleeper prospect in this class, Coll burst onto the draft scene after an electric performance at the PBR Super 60. He put up ridiculous metrics, running a 6.80 60-yard dash, and also threw 97 mph across the infield at the event and has reportedly been up to 102 mph in the past weeks. Coll doesn’t have much projection left in his frame, but he’s added roughly 22 pounds of muscle this off-season and that’s unlocked a new power level for him. He doesn’t have ridiculous bat speed, but his swing is short and he stays inside the baseball producing steady line-drive contact. Scouts have noted some swing-and-miss issues in the past and Coll, unfortunately, wasn’t able to prove them wrong this season. It’s difficult to predict whether or not he joins the professional ranks this season, but Coll and fellow North Carolina Tar Heel commit Mac Horvath could be two major recruits should they find themselves on campus this fall.
SS Harold Coll (GA) capping off an outstanding showing with some flair here👀 as he goes between the legs.
Up to 9️⃣7️⃣ from short after running a 6.8 60 & showcases some impressive metrics @ plate courtesy of @blastmotion
— Shooter Hunt (@ShooterHunt) February 2, 2020