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Inside the Rankings: Top 10 Class of 2021 Middle Infielders


Ted Williams
Ground Forces

With our latest rankings release for the 2021 class we decided to dive in deeper with a breakdown of the top 10 in each position. Today we continue with middle infielders, three of whom are currently uncommitted.

Take a look at the top 10 corner infielders in the '21 class - CLICK HERE.

Take a look at the top 10 left-handed pitchers in the '21 class - CLICK HERE.

Take a look at the top 10 right-handed pitchers in the '21 class  - CLICK HERE.

Disclaimer: Players listed below are ranked in order of their PRIMARY listed position on the website that they have chosen. A dual player that is also strong at their secondary position may carry more weight in their overall ranking.

Class of 2021 Rankings Release

TOP 10 MIDDLE INFIELDERS / CLASS OF 2021

Joe Jaconski SS / OF / Plymouth Whitemarsh, PA / 2021


Quick Hits: The 6-foot-1, 175-pound shortstop is a prime athlete with an uber-fluid left-handed swing. Gets on plane early with the baseball and works extremely well through contact allowing for present pull-side juice and 89 mph bat-exit velocities. The feet play with calculated aggression, working actively through the baseball setting up advantageous hops with advanced range to both sides and an accurate 85 mph arm-strength across the diamond. Should be able to hit immediately at the next level and is the most ready shortstop in the '21 PA class to contribute early on. 

First Glimpse: 2/20/19 Preseason All-State - 88 mph bat-exit velocity, top performer. 

Breakout Performance: 2/23/20 PA/NY/NJ Procase - 89 mph bat-exit velocity, 85 mph IF arm-strength. One of the top rounds of batting practice on the day. 

The Future: The North Carolina commit already has all the makings of a tough out that will be implanted in the middle of the Tarheels batting order with a frame that could easily add 10 pounds. The LHH has a swing ready for the next level and doesn’t have any weaknesses in his approach at the plate. The only question will be whether or not he can stick at shortstop at the next level, (7.14 60-yard dash time) but makes up for it with advanced reaction time and quality range on either side. A high ceiling candidate, look for Jaconski to continue to get even better before stepping onto a college campus.


 

Derek Cease SS / RHP / Nanticoke Area, PA / 2021


Quick Hits: One of the most explosive and quick-twitch athletes we have ever covered, Cease is a 5-foot-8, 145-pound SS/RHP with ‘out of this world’ flexibility and arm-speed. The RHH can swing it too with a bat-exit velocity of 92 mph and a short stroke that plays in-game. The primary middle infielder has game changing speed (6.54 60-yard dash) and extremely quick feet allowing for advanced range in any direction and ability to make plays on the run with ease. Pair that with a 93 mph arm-strength across the diamond and you can see why scouts are enamored. A legit two-way prospect at the next level, Cease has been up to 90 mph with ride on the mound while mixing in a sharp mid 70’s breaking ball with late depth. 

First Glimpse: 12/30/17 PBR Evaluation & Measurables Showcase - 83 mph IF arm-strength, 82 mph FB velocity, 6.94 60-yard dash. 

Breakout Performance: 2/15/20 - 93 mph IF arm-strength, 90 mph FB velocity, 92 mph bat-exit velocity, and 6.75 60-yard dash. 

The Future: The Penn State commit can do it all and it will be hard to keep him off the field with the explosiveness he brings to the table. A top of the order candidate down the road with ability to put pressure on defenses on the basepaths, the only question about Cease is how much bigger and physical will he get? With the ability to comfortably add 20+ pounds onto the frame, there should be no doubt the primary middle infielder will continue improving giving himself a legit chance to compete for playing time when he steps on campus.


 

Cam Conley SS / 2B / Malvern Prep, PA / 2021


Quick Hits: The 5-foot-10, 165-pound shortstop is incredibly athletic with quick-twitch ability in all his movements. Conley gets it done with plus bat speed generating natural lift to the deep pull-side gap while registering bat-exit velocities of 98 mph. Doesn’t miss pitches in the zone and can adjust to offspeed with strength in the lower half. Runs well (6.83 60-yard dash) and can pick it at shortstop with smooth footwork and hands allowing for an accurate 87 mph laser across the diamond. 

First Glimpse: 11/02/17 Elite Prospect Showcase - 84 mph bat-exit velocity. 

Breakout Performance: 2/15/20 Preseason All-State Southeast - 98 mph bat-exit velocity, 6.83 60-yard dash, 87 mph IF arm-strength. Top performer. 

The Future: Currently uncommitted, Conley has one of the higher ceilings in the class with ability to get even more physical in his frame. Offensively, you’re getting a high barrel producer with intelligence while not getting cheated on his hacks, allowing him to do significant damage. On the other side of the ball is a shortstop that can lead a defense with advanced footwork and natural instincts of the game. A quality get for any program, the Malvern Prep standout will have a herd of interest heading into the summer.

 

 

Andrew Muraco SS / RHP / Franklin Regional, PA / 2021


Quick Hits: The 5-foot-10, 170-pound LHH has advanced rhythm in the swing with noticeable power to the pull-side and advanced bat-speed, logging an impressive 91 mph bat-exit velocity. Hunts fastballs early in the count and rarely misses the barrel when launching. The primary shortstop has made multiple improvements defensively with a low center of gravity, quick first step, and an accurate 87 mph arm-strength with ability to throw from any arm-angle. To top it all off, the quality athlete has been clocked at 6.94 in the 60-yard dash. 

First Glimpse: 2/5/16 PA Underclass Preview - 66 mph arm-strength, 75 mph bat-exit velocity.

Breakout Performance: 7/31/19 PBR Future Games Team PA - three hits in game action, 91 mph bat-exit velocity, 85 mph IF arm-strength. 

The Future: The Coastal Carolina commit has hit at every level and should keep that trend going when he steps on campus in the fall of ‘21. The LHH has a knack for getting big hits in game and situationally hits with the best of them in his class. The only question will be where he lands defensively (could be second base) for the Chanticleers.


 

J.J. Wetherholt SS / RHP / Mars Area, PA / 2021


Quick Hits: The 5-foot-8, 170-pound shortstop is your de-facto top of the order run creator and can create havoc on the basepaths. The left-handed hitter was impressive with a .500 batting average and 22 RBI’s as a sophomore in the WPIAL which should tell you all you need to know about his offensive prowess. The shortstop has advanced range to either side with ability to steal hits in the middle of the field and make plays on the run with ease. Wetherholt is the complete package in a frame that could get slightly more physical in the coming months. 

First Glimpse: 8/19/18 - Fall Kickoff Showcase (Allegheny Pirates)

Breakout Performance: 5/16/19 WPIAL playoffs vs. Fox Chapel - 1 for 3 with an RBI.

The Future: The West Virginia commit has played against meaningful competition his whole life: for Beaver Valley (out of Pittsburgh) in the summers and in the WPIAL during the spring. This should leave no doubt that he is seasoned enough for a chance to earn playing time upon stepping on campus. A top of the order spark-plug with a quality track record in-game, Wetherholt could gain even more traction with some more gap to gap pop.


 

Jimmy Sadler SS / 2B / Chartiers Houston, PA / 2021


Quick Hits: The 5-foot-10, 170-pound left-handed hitting shortstop has a prototypical middle-infield build with plenty of quick-twitch actions in all his movements and sneaky physicality that allows for a dangerous stick at the plate. Defensively, Sadler will have plenty of opportunities to get on the field with footspeed and hands that can play anywhere on the diamond giving him a chance both in the infield and outfield at the next level. A burner (6.63 runner) with natural pop (93 mph bat-exit velocity) the Chartiers Houston product will eventually fit the mold of a power/speed guy with game-impacting abilities. 

First Glimpse: 7/26/19 Central Ohio Limited Series 

Breakout Performance: 2/23/20 PA/NY/NJ Procase - Event best 6.63 60-yard dash, 93 mph bat-exit velocity. 

The Future: The West Virginia commit has shown a unique blend of power and speed that should give him a chance to step on the field early in his collegiate career. With athleticism that is off the charts and a hungry work ethic, Sadler has all the makings of a future 10 HR/ 20 SB guy for the Mountaineers with ability to give you plus defense.


 

Alex Gabauer SS / 3B / Norwin, PA / 2021


Quick Hits: The 6-foot, 170-pound shortstop has all the makings of a shut down defender at the next level with athleticism in his footwork and gliding movements all across the field allowing for advanced range and advantageous hops on nearly every route. Features an 82 mph arm-strength but has a very good internal clock, showing ability to make most plays in under 4.0 seconds. The RHH can also swing it too with quality hands at the plate and a gap to gap approach while displaying a track record for in-game success at the 2019 Future Games for Team PA. Also runs well clocking in at 6.91 in the 60-yard dash. 

First Glimpse: 6/15/18 Western PA Top Prospect Games 

Breakout Performance: 7/31/19 PBR Future Games - Team PA - Had two hits while making two “highlight reel” worthy plays including one where he laid out full body to his glove side, popped up and hosed a runner at first. 

The Future: The University of Pennsylvania recruit is a seasoned defender with a feel for his approach at the plate and an 89 mph bat-exit velocity, which should point to XBH projection atop the Quakers batting order in years to come. With a quick first step and above-average footspeed, Gabauer is a very good baserunner and takes bags off of good counts to run in when he has quality jumps. With some more strength added to the frame, the Norwin product has a chance to explode at the next level for John Yurkow’s squad.

 

 

Rafe Perich SS / 3B / Northwestern Lehigh, PA / 2021


Quick Hits: The 6-foot-3, 215-pound switch-hitter swings it extremely well from both sides of the plate with a nice balance of light-tower power and advanced bat to ball skills in the middle of the order. One of the most pure hitters in the class, Perich has the ability to adjust to offspeed pitches in the zone while hunting fastballs early in counts and has shown to be one of the tougher outs among his peers. The primary shortstop is a quality athlete (runs a 7.11 60-yard dash in that frame) and can pick it defensively to go along with an above-average 87 mph arm-strength across the diamond with present carry. 

First Glimpse: 2/23/19 Lehigh Valley Rising Stars Scout Day - 92 mph bat-exit velocity, top performer. 

Breakout Performance: 7/31/19 PBR Future Games - Team PA - Led the entire Pennsylvania squad in hits (four) and RBI (three) putting himself on the map as a must follow hitter in the class. 

The Future: Currently uncommitted, Perich should be one of the most sought after bats in the class especially with the ability to switch hit. The hulking primary shortstop should expect a switch to third base most likely at the next level where his body profiles better. Regardless, there is no doubting the athleticism and feel on the defensive side, and Perich can make a multitude of plays all over the diamond. Overall, the Northwestern Lehigh rising senior should command a large following heading into the summer with a chance to continue exploding into early next year.


 

Spencer Butz SS / OF / York Suburban, PA / 2021


Quick Hits: The 5-foot-10, 170-pound shortstop has added meaningful lean muscle over the past year to his frame and has seen the dividends pay off. Not only did he set an event record in a 6.45 60-yard dash at the PA Preseason All-State, but he’s gotten his bat-exit velocity up to 98 mph with present pull side juice. The RHH has quick-twitch actions with advanced strength in the lower half yielding quality hip-shoulder separation and loud contact out in front of the plate. Has cleaned up his footwork and actions defensively with solid range to either side to go along with a strong 87 mph arm-strength across the diamond. Footspeed might end up leading to a move to centerfield at the next level, but the freakish athleticism in the frame is undeniable. 

First Glimpse: 8/17/18 Fall Kickoff Showcase - 6.87 60-yard dash, 83 mph bat-exit velocity. 

Breakout Performance: 2/15/20 Preseason All-State Southeast - 6.54 60-yard dash, 98 mph bat-exit velocity.

The Future: The Pitt commit is ready to go for the next level in all facets of the game. A leader on the field that makes continuous improvements to his game each offseason, Butz should be a sub 6.50 runner with a 100+ bat-exit velocity before stepping onto a college campus. At this time next year, there could be some legitimate draft buzz surrounding him.


 

Gage Miller SS / 2B / Palmyra Area, PA / 2021


Quick Hits: The 5-foot-11, 165-pound primary shortstop features an athletic frame with likeable qualities in all facets of the game. The right-handed hitter gets on plane early with the ball working well through extension en route to a 91 mph bat-exit velocity demonstrating XBH capabilities at the next level. Defensively, Miller has very good lateral quickness with a feel for proper angles to the baseball creating advantageous hops with regularity during his routes. Can make plays on the run with solid footspeed (7.03 60-yard dash) and has the ability to put on an upwards of 10-15 pounds which suggests a high ceiling. Has been up to 89 mph across the diamond putting him behind Derek Cease (93 mph) as the second best arm-strength among middle infielders in the class. 

First Glimpse: 4/17/19 Palmyra vs. Susquehanna Township 

Breakout Performance: 3/01/20 Keystone State Bombers Scout Day - 91 mph 

The Future: Currently uncommitted, Miller is well seasoned in all facets of the game with legitimate arm-strength and pop at the plate. The 7.03 60-yard dash is more than made up with a quick first step and understanding of angles on the defensive side of the ball and could turn into a quality defender at the next level. A top of the order bat who could eventually project into the middle of a collegiate lineup, Miller will be a close follow into the summer and early next year. 

 


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