There's some pop at first, third base in Draft
Stanford's Piscotty, Clemson's Shaffer stand out at infield corners
There's a certain prototype that teams seek in corner infielders.
In a perfect world, they are middle-of-the-order types who can hit for average and power. If they can do that and play a good third base, you've got yourself a future All-Star.
Finding that in the Draft, of course, is easier said than done, and oftentimes is more about wishful thinking than anything else. This year's crop of corner infielders does have offensive potential, though figuring out where they profile best defensively is a little more up in the air than scouts would like at this point.
"We don't know if any of them can play third base," one scout lamented. "That's the problem. We think they'll hit. Richie Shaffer has power. Stephen Piscotty is a better hitter. Joey Gallo has big power, but a lot of teams like him better as a pitcher. Corey Seager's a shortstop and you're moving him, but you've not seen him at third."
To see when these corner infielders get taken, check out the wall-to-wall coverage of the First-Year Player Draft on June 4-6, beginning with the first round and Comp Round A on Monday, June 4, at 7 p.m. ET. The first night of the event will be broadcast live on MLB Network and streamed live on MLB.com. Rounds 2-40 will also be streamed live on MLB.com, on June 5-6.
MLB.com's coverage, sponsored by CenturyLink, will include Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Here's a more detailed look at the corner infielders who have the best chance to go in the early stages of the Draft. Their rankings in the Draft Top 100 are in parentheses.
Stephen Piscotty, 3B, Stanford (18)
Piscotty has done a little bit of everything for Stanford, including pitching. He has largely been playing left field this year, but teams still believe he could profile well at the hot corner because of his arm, which produces fastballs in the low 90s when he pitches. Piscotty doesn't fit the profile in terms of power, though he might develop more as he matures. He can, however, flat-out hit, with perhaps a future as a Placido Polanco type. Piscotty's ability to play different positions shows, as one scout put it, that "he's a really good baseball player."
Richie Shaffer, 3B/1B, Clemson (17)
If Piscotty is the collegian who can hit for average in this group, then Shaffer is the consistent power hitter teams might covet. He's shown the ability to drive the ball to all fields in a good college conference and should have home run power at the next level. Shaffer has the arm for third, but might have the range for first, with even an outfield corner position a possibility. He is likely to collect some strikeouts along the way, but if a team is looking for run production, Shaffer could be the guy.
Joey Gallo, 3B, Bishop Gorman HS, Nevada (32)
Gallo might have the most raw power of anyone in this Draft class, but the question is whether he can make consistent enough contact to tap into it. When he squares up, he can hit any ball out of any park, but he didn't help himself with a poor performance at USA Baseball's National High School Invitational in March. Gallo played first base for Team USA over the summer, with some thinking that will be his long-range home, but he has a plus arm at third. It's that arm that intrigues some teams more than the bat, with the real interest being his ability to touch the upper-90s from the mound. Gallo, however, would like to start out as a hitter.
Adam Brett Walker, 1B, Jacksonville (39)
Another big power bat, Walker brings athletic bloodlines (his father played in the NFL) to the diamond. He also brings light-tower power, though there is some concern about him making enough contact once he starts facing more advanced pitching at the pro level. Walker has drawn some comparisons to Giancarlo Stanton and has even played some outfield, but it remains to be seen if he's athletic enough to stay out there or will need to play first base.
Corey Seager, Northwest Cabarrus HS, North Carolina (44)
While his older brother, Kyle, is establishing himself as a pretty solid Major League third baseman, Corey is bigger and more physical and has the chance to fit the prototype more than big bro does. The younger Seager plays shortstop in high school, but the consensus is he'll have to slide over to third at the next level. He has the defensive skills to excel there and while he's more of pure hitter now, the power was starting to show up and should continue to do so as Seager matures.
Others: Keon Barnum, 1B, King HS, Fla.; Austin Dean, Klein Collins HS, Texas; Fernando Perez, 3B, Central Arizona JC; Matt Reynolds, 3B, Arkansas; Daniel Robertson, 3B, Upland HS, Calif.; Rio Ruiz, 3B, Bishop Amat HS, Calif.; Trey Williams, 3B, Valencia HS, Calif.