Top Prospect Showcase: Middle Infielder Analysis

By Steve Nielsen
Scouting Director - Illinois

The 7th annual Top Prospect Showcase once again brought out some of the top talent from across the state. The 2014 class is loaded with high end players and this year's event certainly did not disappoint. Today we will begin a series of positional analysis from the Top Prospect Showcase, breaking down middle infielders, corner infielders, outfielders, catchers and pitchers.

We begin with the middle infielders. Seemingly always in demand, we saw a talented group of athletic defenders that showed they have the tools to play at the next level. Joe Becht took the top spot as he showed a well rounded game that looks to project well both defensively and offensively, being a left handed hitter who can defend the middle of the field is a hot commodity and Becht proved he can do just that.

Take a look at our top middle infielders along with the best of the rest from the Top Prospect Showcase.

Top Middle Infielders

1. Joe Becht, SS, Downers Grove South, 2014
Athletically built, 5-foot-10, 160-pound left handed hitting infielder. Defensively moved well on the infield, advanced lateral movement, showed above average range. Played through the baseball well, stays low, works to his target, 7.22 runner. Arm plays with carry across the diamond, short arm action, high ¾ slot, 81 mph across the infield. Offensively hits from a slightly open stance, short stride. Lower half is active, shows good balance throughout, line drive gap to gap guy. 86 mph exit velocity.

2. Joseph Duncan, SS/RHP, Highland HS, 2014
A big riser in the 2014 class, Duncan is an athletically built 6-foot-2, 170-pound infielder with considerable upside. Showed quick-twitch athleticism throughout event: ran a 6.81 60, athletic arm in the field, bat speed at the plate (89 mph exit velocity). Hands really work at the plate. Has level bat path, balanced, quiet approach, fast hands and showed power potential. Defensively, may profile more at third base at next level, though certainly has the requisite tools to play shortstop. Has athletic arm, plays through the ball well, accuracy across the infield at 77 mph. On the mound, fastball topped at 83 mph, and also threw a curveball (65-66) and changeup (69-71). Overall, Duncan has the frame to easily add strength while maintaining his athleticism and adding more power in the future.

3. Kevin Sullivan, MIF, Brother Rice, 2014
Athletic frame, slight length, 5-foot-11, 170-pound left handed hitting middle infielder. Defensively shows advanced actions, hands show softness, rhythmic defender, rangy, 6.89 runner. Arm shows carry across the diamond, accurate at 83 mph, finishes through target. Offensively hits from a balanced stance, athletic setup. Middle of the field approach, line drive hitter, occasional length in barrel.

4. Matt Sullivan, MIF, Huntley, 2014
5-foot-10, 170-pound middle infielder. Defensively showed a traditional infield arm action, short and loose, high ¾ slot, on target, 80 mph across the diamond. Feet work quickly, 6.97 runner, exchange is clean and efficient, fields athletically out in front. Reliable defender. Offensively hits from a balanced setup, smooth load, short stride. Above average bat speed, excellent bat path, hands stay inside, barrel awareness, good balance throughout.

5. Don Buonavolanto, MIF, Hinsdale South, 2014
Athletic build at 5-foot-10, 165-pounds, shows advanced strength in lower half. One of the top athletes in Illinois’ Class of 2014. Defensively uses a long arm action across the diamond, high ¾ arm slot, showed accuracy at 77 mph, arm strength present, showed carry, deliberate exchange. Offensively hits from a balanced setup, showed bat speed, 82 mph exit velocity from the tee.

6. Tommy Bordignon, MIF, Loyola, 2014
Slender build, 6-foot, 180-pound middle infielder. Defensively showed advanced arm strength with carry, 86 mph across the diamond. Exchange was quick and clean, showed solid defensive actions. Ran the 60 in 7.28. Offensively hit from a balanced setup, short stride, smooth load. Bat path was short to the baseball with occasional lift, mostly line drive approach, 81 mph exit velocity from the tee.

7. Michael Metz, MIF, Mundelein, 2014
5-foot-10, 175-pound middle infielder. Defensively showed above average action, fluid defender, feet work well. Arm plays athletically, showed accuracy through his target, 79 mph across the diamond. One of the strongest rounds of the event. Offensively hits from a wide setup, minimal stride. Lower half works, excellent balance through finish. Gap to gap type hitter, middle of the field approach.

8. Brady Fairfield, MIF, Metamora, 2015
5-foot-10, 165-pound middle infielder. Defensively showed above average hands, foot work is fluid and athletic, 7.05 60 yard dash. Arm works across the diamond at 74 mph, showed accuracy. Offensively hits from a balanced setup, smooth load, short stride. Above average bat speed, 79 mph exit velocity from the tee, shows good balance through finish.

9. Luke Johnson, MIF, Lake Forest HS, 2014
Johnson looks to be one of the bigger sleepers in the 2014 class, as the athletically built 5-foot-11, 170-pound middle infielder had an impressive all-around showing. Showed excellent rhythm and timing at the plate. Has an extremely balanced and repeatable swing. Demonstrated barrel whip through the hitting zone and gap power. Defensively, has soft, reliable hands and plenty of arm (82 mph). He fields the ball with rhythm and plays through the ball well. Ran a 7.39 60.

10. Evan Sandmann, C/INF/OF, Lincoln-Way East, 2014
Athletic, 6-foot, 165-pound utility player. Sandmann showed a well-rounded game with the ability to perform at multiple positions. Behind the plate he showed a short, over the top arm action resulting in 1.94-2.01 pop times with arm strength of 81 mph from the crouch. On the infield he showed advanced arm strength at 86 mph with carry, longer arm action. He showed arm strength again in the outfield at 86 mph with carry. Offensively hits from the left side, slightly open stance. Flat bat path from load to finish, line drive guy, simple approach, works the middle of the field.

11. Neil Lambert, SS, Pontiac HS, 2015
Lambert is a 5-foot-11, 145-pound left-handed hitting shortstop with projectable, athletic frame. Shows tools and natural athleticism to become a coveted prospect in the 2015 class. Defensively, he moves with fluidity and ease, takes clean routes to the baseball and has a strong, accurate arm (82 mph across the infield). He showed the ability to throw from different angles and on the move. Ran a 7.20 60. A left-handed hitter, Lambert has a line-drive approach, and works the ball middle-to-left-center. Has barrel whip through the zone and gets excellent extension after contact.

12. Tommy Flahaven, MIF, Prospect, 2014
6-foot, 180-pound athletically built middle infielder, physical build. Defensively showed excellent defensive actions, moved well laterally, showed quick and fluid footwork, 7.15 runner. Soft hands, exchange is quick. Arm plays at 80 mph across the infield, showed carry to his target. Offensively hits from a balanced setup, short stride, bat path is short, occasionally level.

Best of the Rest (Listed Alphabetically)

Troy Cantu, MIF, Huntley, 2014
5-foot-7, 155-pound middle infielder. Defensively showed arm strength across the diamond at 75 mph, flashed occasional carry. Arm action is long and shows accuracy. Offensively hits from an open stance, short stride setup. Has a line drive approach with a level bat path, average balance throughout. 7.15 runner in the 60.

Craig Dankovich, MIF, Providence Catholic, 2014
Average frame and build, 5-foot-10, 165-pounds. Defensively showed soft hands, advanced defensive actions, quick and clean exchange. Arm plays at 70 mph across the diamond, showed accuracy. 7.63 runner in the 60.

David Dugger, MIF/RHP, Rich Central, 2014
Athletic two-way player, 5-foot-9, 160-pounds. Defensively shows quick twitch actions, above average hands, above average defensive range. Arm action shows athleticism, high ¾ slot with accuracy, shows arm strength from the left side of the infield, 78 mph across the diamond, 7.25 runner. Offensively hit s from a balanced stance, uses smooth load, short stride. Above average bat speed, flat path through the zone, consistent contact, repeats swing well, line drive hitter, flashed a gap to gap approach. On the mound operates from an over the top slot, shows deception. Fastball has slight late sink in the hitting zone, 80-83 mph. Curveball works mostly on 12/6 plane, ranges from 68-74 mph.

Ryan Hutchinson, SS/RHP, Mattoon, 2014
Hutchinson is a two-way player with projection in his 6-foot-3, 175-pound frame.  He ran a 7.14 60 along with some potential at the plate.  Hutchinson is a line-drive hitter with occasional gap power.  He sets up in an open stance and showed an advanced bat path with pop, recording an 83 mph exit velocity.  Defensively, his arm action is loose from a high ¾ slot at 77 mph across the infield with some accuracy.  On the mound, Hutchinson has some rhythm in his delivery and keeps his shoulders level, working from a high ¾ arm slot.  He showed a repeatable fastball, throwing for strikes at 79-81 mph. Curveball was 67-69 mph with short action. At 71-73 mph his changeup flashed fading action and thrown with fastball similar arm speed.    

Danny Kelly, MIF, Loyola Academy HS, 2014
Kelly is a 5-foot-11, 170-pound middle infielder. Defensively, has soft, reliable hands and a loose, athletic arm. Was clocked at 72 mph from shortstop and ran a 7.62. Offensively, Kelly hits from a balanced setup and has a line-drive approach.

Joe Kenny, SS, Mahomet-Seymour HS, 2015
Kenny is a physical 5-foot-10, 180-pound infielder who showed solid all-around ability across the board. Defensively, he fields the ball with rhythm, plays through the ball well, and demonstrated plenty of arm across the diamond (81 mph). Offensively, he has an aggressive yet balanced plate approach. Has a mechanically sound swing and showed the ability to drive the ball with some carry (87 mph exit velocity). Kenny, who ran a 7.59 60, may project more as a third baseman at the next level.

Drew LaMotte, MIF, New Trier, 2014
Average build, shows some athleticism, 6-foot, 160-pound middle infielder. Defensively showed playable hands, foot work showed athleticism, clean exchange. Arm played at 75 mph across the diamond, high ¾ slot, firm arm action, occasional accuracy. Offensively hit from an open stance, arm bar load, intermediate stide. Lower half showed activity, moderate bat speed, 83 mph exit velocity from the tee.

Tyler Lewan, SS/RHP, Dundee-Crown HS, 2014
6-foot-2, 175-pound two-way prospect. Defensively, shows reliable hands with solid arm strength across the infield (77 mph across the infield). Offensively, hits from an athletic setup and is short and quick to the ball. Ran a 7.63 60. On the mound, works from high-3/4 slot with fastball that topped at 80 mph. Also throws a 60-62 mph curveball and a 69-71 changeup with some sink.

Nick McLees, MIF, Marquette University (WI), 2014
Average build, 5-foot-9, 178-pound middle infielder. Defensively shows an athletic arm, long arm action, shows accuracy, 78 mph across the diamond. Hands work, shows a clean exchange. Offensively hits from a balanced setup. Occasionally shows a short bat path with some extension. Middle of the field approach, contact guy.

Erik Nelson, MIF, Marquette HS (WI), 2014
Nelson is a 5-foot-11, 165-pound middle infielder who showed above-average tools across the board. Defensively, he demonstrated solid arm strength (82 mph) across the infield with carry and accuracy. Plays well on the move, especially gloveside. Offensively, hits from a balanced setup, and is short and quick to the baseball. Has a line-drive approach with a level path. Ran a 7.31 60.

Danny Pecoraro, MIF, Prairie Ridge, 2014
Average frame and build, 5-foot-10, 150-pound left handed hitting middle infielder. Defensively shows solid hands, deliberate footwork, quick exchange, showed the ability to play through the baseball. Arm action is short, shows athleticism, 74 mph across the diamond. Offensively hits from a tall setup with a slightly open stance. Bat path works slightly uphill, 73 mph exit velocity.

Matthew Ryan, MIF, Plainfield Central, 2014
6-foot, 170-pound right handed hitting infielder. Reliable hands, played through the ball athletically, clean exchange, fluid footwork, 7.6 runner. Arm played at 81 mph across the diamond, short, high ¾ arm action, showed accuracy, occasional carry. Offensively hit from a balanced stance, slightly wide, leg kick trigger.

Tyler Vaughn, RHP/INF, Anna-Jonesboro HS, 2014
Physical 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame with wide shoulders and solid lower half. Fastball sat at 85-86 mph, coming from high-3/4 slot, considerable effort in delivery. Curveball, in 67-70 range, showed promise, displaying two-plane life. Changes arm slot with 72-74 mph changeup. For size, runs well (7.39) and showed arm strength from shortstop (83 mph). Also registered 86 mph exit velocity.

Mitch Wilson, MIF, Oswego HS, 2014
Wilson is a 5-foot-11, 155-pound left-handed hitting middle infielder. Showed solid footspeed by running a 7.01 60. Was clocked at 73 mph across the infield from shortstop. Offensively, hits from an open setup from left side; uses short stride and little lower-half involvement, relying heavily on his hands to spray line drives.

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