2017 Top Prospect Games: Middle Infield Analysis

By Steve Nielsen
Scouting Supervisor – Illinois/Wisconsin

Continuing our coverage of 2017 Top Prospect Games we bring you the middle infield analysis. This is an athletic group of defenders and offensive threats, typically some of the top players on the field we saw several in this group with high aspirations towards the next level.

Michell Buban took the top spot with his stellar play in game action. Buban showed the ability to consistently square up live pitching and made several ranging plays at shortstop that showed off his projectable athletic frame.

Here’s a look at the top middle infielders.

Top Middle Infielders

1. Mitchell Buban, SS, Tremper (WI), 2017
6-foot, 155-pound middle infielder, lean build, long frame with gangly limbs, projectable frame. Right handed hitter, slightly open stance, short toe tap to longer stride. Lower half has tendency to collapse, bat speed present, loose hands, makes hard contact, solid impact, excellent barrel awareness, creates whip, line drive approach, some head movement and inconsistencies but continues to find the barrel. Several hits in game at bats, defensively in games played well on the move, highly reliable confident hands, advanced hands, showed softness, excellent body control. Arm played at 79 mph across the diamond, doesn’t appear as a tradition infield arm action but showed carry and accuracy, excellent accuracy when playing on the move, athletic arm. Buban has an excellent athleticism to his game with a high level of projection.

2. Teodoro Marquez, MIF, De La Salle HS, IL, 2017
5-foot-8, 150-pound middle infielder. Showed well across the board at the 2017 Top Prospect Games. Defensively, demonstrated advanced defensive actions; fields the ball with rhythm, takes good angles, plays through the ball well. Natural defensive actions, soft, reliable hands, accurate arm across the infield at 75 mph. Showed good baseball IQ in game play; turned a double play and made all plays hit his way. Offensively, hits from an open setup, gets square with pace and rhythm, maintains excellent balance through contact. Quiet mechanics, short, level bat path, line-drive approach. Recorded several hits in game action, including a run-scoring triple to right-center field. Ran a 4.68 home-to-first time.

3. JD Villafuerte, SS/MIF, Normal, 2017
5-foot-7, 150-pound athletic right-handed hitting SS/MIF with a smallish frame impressed with quality middle infield defensive actions.  Threw 76 mph across the diamond from short, loose, high ¾ arm action with accuracy and carry.  Size profiles better at second base, but showed the ability to throw the ball on a line from his backhand/deep short to first base.  Plays through the baseball with athletic, quick feet, and clean exchanges.  Ranged well to his backhand on a play deep in the hole during live games.  Offenisvely, hits from a balanced setup with hands moving back smoothly and a short stride producing 73 mph exit velocity from short, level bat path.  Took an up the middle approach during live batting practice, with several line drives from gap-to-gap.  Ran between 4.5-4.68 from home to first during live games.  Tallied two singles during live game play, and also stole two bases. 

4. Blake Munch, MIF/RHP, Joliet Catholic, 2018
5-foot-10, 140-pound athletic right-handed hitting MIF/RHP hits from a balanced, slightly open setup, with a short, toe-tap stride, with a short, level, bat path getting extension producing 84 mph exit velocity.  Took impressive batting practice spraying line drives from gap-to-gap with good barrel whip through the zone.  Defensively, throws 72 mph across the diamond from short, loose, high ¾ arm slot with accuracy and carry.  Stayed back on balls at short, with slower feet, but possesses soft hands and clean exchanges.  Looked more comfortable at second base during games, and made a few good run through type plays.  Singled sharply up the middle staying back on a curveball during games, also stole second and third.  Ran between 4.69-4.83 from home to first.  On the mound, fastball sat from 73-76 mph from same arm slot.  Mechanics are clean and repeats, showing feel for three pitches.  Threw 11/5 curveball for strikes consistently, with slowed arm action between 60-65 mph.  Changes arm action slightly on curveball, pre-setting it early.  Changeup was thrown near fastball arm speed at 68-70 mph. 

5. Griffin Klein, MIF, Indian Trail, 2017
5-foot-6, 123-pound middle infielder. Defensively showed above average actions, softer hands, showed some body control, able to play through the baseball, projects as a second base type. Arm action is athletic, can throw on the move, 71 mph across the diamond, projects at second base. Hits from the right side, balanced stance, line drive spray hitter, singles type, shorter path with good balance.

Best of the Rest (Listed Alphabetically)

Casey Barr, SS/RHP, Francis Parker HS, IL, 2017
6-foot-1, 160-pound two-way player. On the mound, worked three quick, clean innings, throwing consistent strikes. Works from over-the-top slot, short arm action, regular effort, has tendency to fall off to first base side. Fastball sat between 71-75 mph. Curveball ranged between 59-63; recorded two strikeouts with pitch. Also threw a 67-68 mph changeup. Defensively, showed reliable hands at shortstop; was clocked at 71 mph across infield. Registered 64 mph exit velocity and ran a 4.88 home-to-first time.

Talon File, SS, Williamsville HS, IL, 2017
5-foot-10, 160-pound middle infielder. Showed well throughout two-day 2017 Top Prospect Games. Hits from slightly open setup, maintains balance throughout swing, some length in bat path, line-drive approach when stays back, 80 mph exit velocity. In game action, smoked a double to right-center. Defensively, shows reliable hands, accuracy across diamond at 76 mph. Ran a 4.69 home-to-first.

Colin Gibson, MIF, Marmion, 2017
5-foot-9, 140-pound middle infielder. Right handed hitter, balanced stance, short stride, maintains balance. Line drive approach, slight pull side tendencies, occasionally gap to gap. 74 mph exit velocity from the tee. Defensively arm played at 67 mph across the diamond, short arm action, high ¾ slot.

Derek Malone, SS, Minooka HS, IL, 2017
5-foot-9, 125-pound infielder. Offensively, hits from balanced setup, short stride. Average bat speed, spray hitter, singles guy, quiet setup. Recorded 76 mph exit velocity and ran a 4.80 home-to-first time. At shortstop, was clocked at 70 mph across the infield, showed the ability to field on the move to his glove side, project as a second base type.

Jack Marshall, INF, Kaneland, 2017
5-foot-10, 140-pound middle infielder. Right handed hitter, balanced stance, toe tap stride, average balance through contact. Back side hitter, looks to lift, had a hard hit double in game action. Defensively showed average actions and body control, flashed athletic footwork. Arm action is loose, 75 mph across the diamond, field with wide base, funnels to middle, athletic arm action when on the move.

Jake Maxey, MIF, O’Fallon, 2017
5-foot-11, 165-pound right-handed hitting middle infielder hits from a closed setup, hands start back and stay back during load, with a long stride, producing line drives from gap-to-gap with strength to his pull side and 78 mph exit velocity.  Defensively, plays through the baseball with short, two-piece arm action, with average arm strength 74 mph across the diamond.  Ran between 5.03-5.13 from home to first.

Jackson Shepherd, SS/OF, Minooka, 2017
5-foot-9, 155-pound right-handed hitting shortstop hits from a balanced setup with a short stride, hands load back smoothly, but get away from body at times, producing long, level bat path with 76 mph exit velocity.  Showed a good approach hitting the ball the other way during live batting practice.  Ran 4.69-4.79 from home to first during games.  Defensively, throws from a long, loose, high ¾ arm slot with above average arm strength across the diamond at 78 mph.  Showed soft hands and fluid footwork fielding. 

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