Thursday, August 13, 2009

Postseason Prospect Rankings: Shortstops

Shortstop was a top-heavy position on the Cape this summer, with two top-caliber prospects and then everybody else a big step below. And both of my top Cape League shortstop prospects might be better off playing a different position in pro ball.

5. Chris Wade, Harwich/Kentucky. Bats R/Throws R. 6'0" 160. Lexington, Ky.

2009 Cape League Regular Season Stats: .260 BA/0 HR/3 RBI/.647 OPS (13 games)

Wade was taken in the 11th-round of June's draft by the Marlins, and signed with Florida on July 6. Wade was solid but not outstanding while he was on the Cape, following up on a redshirt sophomore season at Kentucky during which he hit .313 with 6 home runs and 42 RBIs. Wade is a line drive hitter with a smooth right-handed stroke. He is a very athletic defensive player with really good range and the ability to make the tough play. He also has a strong arm. I only got to see Wade a couple of times before he left, but he should be a solid pro in the Marlins' system and where they drafted him seems about right.

4. Levi Michael. Harwich, UNC. Bats S/Throws R. 5'10" 170. Welcome, N.C.

2009 Cape League Regular Season Stats: .247 BA/1 HR/6 RBI/.673 OPS

The main reasons Michael is ranked ahead of the player he replaced in Harwich are his youth and potential. Wade is a better player than Michael right now, but Michael just turned 18 in February and it is important to consider that he was the youngest player on the Cape this summer when evaluating what he did. Michael hit .290 with 13 HR and 57 RBIs for the Tar Heels in the spring. He didn't show that kind of home run power with the wood bats over the summer, but still did just about everything else well. Michael has quick hands at the plate and made solid contact consistently. Michael had sort of an inside out swing from the left side of the plate and did a good job taking the ball to left field. He looked like more of a slap hitter from the left side and a gap hitter from the right side. Defensively he had good range up the middle and a strong arm for a player of his size. Michael also has good speed, getting to first base in 4.2 seconds from the left side of the plate. I get the feeling Michael is going to develop into a really good player by the time he is eligible for the draft in 2011.

3. Josh Rutledge, Y-D/Alabama. Bats R/Throws R. 6'0" 185. Cullman, Ala.

2009 Cape League Regular Season Stats: .250 BA/0 HR/11 RBI/.583 OPS

A lot of people are very high on Rutledge, and while I think he is solid I probably am not as high on him as everybody else. I saw some good things from him but I also saw some things in his play this summer I didn't like. I am giving him the benefit of the doubt on a weak list so far because of what I have heard Rutledge is supposed to be. Rutledge was named first team All-SEC this spring after he hit .305 with 5 home runs and 44 RBIs for the Crimson Tide. Rutledge has a nice line drive swing and some pop, and he can drive the ball to the opposite field. But later in the summer when I saw him he looked off-balance and uncomfortable at the plate, and he struggled to find his timing. He also took some questionable angles on balls in the field. Rutledge had a tremendous freshman season at Alabama and was also good when he played for Y-D in 2008. He took a step back in both leagues this year but is still considered a probable high draft pick in 2010.

2. Derek Dietrich, Wareham/Georgia Tech. Bats L/Throws R. 6'1" 195. Parma, Ohio.

2009 Cape League Regular Season Stats: .211 BA/3 HR/10 RBI/.677 OPS

Dietrich looked like the best Major League prospect on the Cape for the first couple weeks of the summer before the College World Series and Team USA tryout guys showed up. He showed flashes of brilliance in certain games throughout the summer, but he also had games where his weaknesses shone through and he went through a terrible slump the last few weeks of the season. Dietrich was named the National Freshman of the Year by in 2008, but his inconsistency at the plate and an increasing suspicion he will be unable to play shortstop professionally has caused his stock to decrease since then. Dietrich hit .311 with 10 home runs and 54 RBI for the Yellow Jackets this spring. He showed home run power in batting practice at the Cape, and I saw him hit two home runs in one game in person, but he really struggled to find his swing in games for most of the summer. Dietrich swings easy and has quick hands, but his timing was off a lot of the time and he struggled to hit good breaking pitches. When he is going well Dietrich is a great hitter, but he was just out of whack a lot of the time I saw him this summer. Dietrich has limited range at shortstop and he will likely have to play third base or the outfield in professional ball. He has a plus arm. Dietrich still could be selected in the first round of the draft next June, but it is not as sure of a bet as it once was.

1. B.A. Vollmuth, Falmouth/Southern Miss. Bats R/Throws R. 6'3" 200. Biloxi, Miss.

2009 Cape League Regular Season Stats: .230 BA/5 HR/18 RBI/.744 OPS

Vollmuth arrived late to the Cape after his school team's suprising run to the College World Series, and he slowly and improbably overtook Dietrich as the best prospect in the league who predominantly played shortstop. Vollmuth hit .237 with 8 home runs and 28 RBIs as a freshman for Southern Miss this spring. Vollmuth has very good raw power but also a quick bat and short-to-the-ball swing. He tends to step out on good breaking balls and swings and misses a lot, but with his swing one would think he will be able to hit for a higher average and with fewer strikeouts once he gets used to facing better pitching more often. Vollmuth is an athletic kid but does not look especially smooth in the field, and with his size he is probably better-suited to play third base professionally. He has a very strong arm. Vollmuth has some developing to do but he has a high ceiling and could be a very high pick in the 2011 draft.

Friday: Outfielders 10-6

Catchers, First Basemen, Second Basemen, Third Basemen


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