An Early Look at the Corner Infielders in the 2017 MLB Draft by Eric Longenhagen September 15, 2016 This is a series of scouting thoughts on high-school prospects eligible for the 2017 MLB Draft based on observations from summer showcases. Today’s positional group is corner infielders. Links to other positional groups appear below. Previous editions: Catchers / Middle Infielders / Center Fielders / Left-Handed Pitchers. The position du jour is corner infielders. This is a weird group. I shuffled the names around quite a bit before publication and am still not sure that I’m okay with what I have because beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder when it comes to all of these prospects. Without further adieu… Adisyn Coffey, 3B, Delta HS (IN) Height: 6’2, Weight: 170, Commitment: Arizona State Coffey had the coolest looking bat at Area Codes and put on quite a display with it, making hard, airborne contact in several at-bats. He has above-average bat speed and great feel for generating lift because of a cute little backside collapse that creates some uppercut in the swing without overdoing it and eating away at his ability to make contact. Coffey loads his hands quite high and it can take a good bit of time for his barrel to find the baseball in the hitting zone, but he moves the bat around pretty well, I like his chances to hit and, eventually, hit with some power. As for the body, it has some projection and I think he could ultimately be a plus hitter (as long as that load comes down) with average game power who plays an average third base. That said, his arm strength is just average, unless he really maxes out, and he may fit best at second base or possibly in left field. Ryan Vilade, 3B, Frisco HS (TX) Height: 6’2, Weight: 195, Commitment: Oklahoma State Though he doesn’t have the range or actions for shortstop in my opinion, Vilade should be fine at third base or, at worst, in right field, where his plus arm strength would be an asset. He has average raw power on the whole but more than that to his pull side which, based on how big-league hitters are trending, is arguably more relevant. There’s enough left on the frame to add more weight and power while remaining athletically viable at third base and I think he could have plus pull power at maturity. Vilade struggled with swing and miss this summer and the causes were copious. He doesn’t track consistently and he has issues with his footwork in the box, either bailing his front foot way down the third-base line or lifting his back foot through contact. There’s a chance he never makes enough contact to tap into that power, but if he does there’s pretty significant upside here. Alejandro Toral, 1B, Archbishop McCarthy HS (FL) Height: 6’1, Weight: 215, Commitment: Miami Toral has above-average all-fields power and a smooth, low-effort stroke with average bat speed and big extension. There’s nothing overly explosive about it (and I think one could argue that, because Toral is a 1B-only prospect, lacking any kind of elite offensive trait is a problem), but I think Toral has enough feel to hit that the power will play in games and there’s a chance it’s enough to profile at first base. Toral has worked out in the outfield in the past but he belongs at first base, where he projects as an average defender. Mark Vientos, 3B, American Heritage HS (FL) Height: 6’4, Weight: 190, Commitment: Miami Those scoping the prep ranks for a young-for-the-class prospect needn’t look further than Vientos, who will be about 17 and a half on draft day. Vientos has loads of physical projection and should grow into substantial power as he ages, possibly plus. He has some swing-and-miss issues created, in part, by a bit of an arm bar and too little bat speed to make up for it. Though he doesn’t have the range for short (the fastest time to first I saw from Vientos was 4.57, approaching a 20 on the scale) his actions are fine, he’s an average athlete with efficient footwork and should settle in at third base, especially once he grows into more arm strength. I think the profile here is somewhat enticing, but incomplete, and I’m not as confident in his offensive future as I am in those ahead of him on this list. Ben Ramirez, INF, Eastlake HS (CA) Height: 6’3, Weight: 180, Commitment: USC Ramirez has been a big name among 2017 high schoolers for some time but mostly played third or second throughout showcase season — mostly in deference to superior defensive shortstops like Nick Allen, Hunter Greene and underclassman Brice Turang. Ramirez is smooth and athletic enough to play short but his hands are inconsistent and his arm strength is just average. While I think he could remedy both of those issues with reps and physical maturity, it’s hard to envision him doing so while also maintaining his speed/range, which is just average right now and could erode as he fills out. Hopefully, if Ramirez needs to move, he can find a way to add to what is currently 30 raw power. It’s more a product of Ramirez’s swing – which is very similar to the swing J.P. Crawford had as an amateur – than it is a lack of physicality, but such things are not always easy to fix. Jayson Gonzalez, 3B/1B, Bishop Amat Memorial HS (CA) Height: 6’2, Weight: 210, Commitment: Vanderbilt The physically mature Gonzalez has sneaky straight-line speed and, while he has the arm for third base, I’m not sure he has the athleticism for it — and am not comfortable projecting the body there. I think he might ultimately be a better fit at first base or even in right field. If that’s the case, then the bat may have trouble profiling as Gonzalez has only average raw power and very little impactful physical growth left in the tank. I think there’s a good chance he ends up at Vanderbilt. Jacob Gonzalez, 3B/1B/OF, Chaparral HS (AZ) Height: 6’4, Weight: 205, Commitment: TCU Gonzalez has plus raw power projection and already shows a consistent ability to create lift to his pull side during batting practice — and that should continue to improve as he adds weight to a pretty classic power hitter’s frame. He also has some bat control. Beyond that, there are many questions. Despite his ability to move the barrel around the zone, Gonzalez doesn’t have many other exceptional hitting traits. His bat speed is a bit below average, his approach and breaking-ball recognition did not look great at the Area Code games, and his timing is poor, which resulted in some hittable pitches pulled into the third-base dugout or just well foul down that baseline. Gonzalez’s defensive actions at third base — as well as his arm strength — both point either to left field or first base. I think he’ll have enough power to profile there provided he hits enough to tap into it, but like all of the names on this list it will be an uphill climb to do so. Other Corner Infielders of Note: Nick Egnatuk, 3B, Immaculata HS (NJ) (Video) – Perhaps the most polished defensive third baseman I saw during the summer, Egnatuk has advanced defensive footwork, good hands and a plus arm, all of which comprise a potential plus defensive profile despite fringe range. He’s not a zero with that bat, either, but does have some stiffness, head violence during the swing and a bat path that requires exquisite timing. He has some raw power, though: I clocked one of his fly balls at just over six seconds at Area Codes. Tanner Morris, 3B, Albemarle HS (VA) (Video) – Morris’ high school is located in Charlottesville and indeed he is committed to the University of Virginia. He has an excellent feel to hit and average bat speed, but it takes a while for the barrel to get into the hitting zone. I think he’s fairly projectable and could have average raw at maturity. Quentin Selma, 3B, Buchanan HS (CA) (Video) – I like Selma’s all-around game. He’s a good athlete with solid defensive actions and an above-average arm. His swing doesn’t generate much loft, but he has average bat speed and showed some bat control during Area Codes, including an impressive low-ball double off of an opposing lefty.