Last year I did a defensive analysis of the top infield picks in the 2016 Draft, this will be part two of that post. We’re going to look at five of the infielders taken in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft. This is not a complete analysis of each individual’s defensive ability. Nonetheless, I hope to provide some insight on how they approach specific ground balls.
Greene is the top two-way player in the draft, as he also possesses an upper 90’s fastball on the mound. As you look at this short clip of Greene fielding a routine ground ball – A couple things jump out at you. Greene shows a nice “prep-step” and gets to his toes at contact of the fungo. Greene approaches the ball under pretty good control before rocking into his fielding position. Notice how the last 2 steps before the ball enters the glove are not only “Right-Left” but right heel-toe left heel-toe. This keeps Greene in motion and fluid through the fielding process. A very quick 4 step pattern (two shuffles) from Greene has him attacking 1st base on his strong throw.
Lewis is an interesting prospect to me in that I could see him being a future center fielder. Not that his actions in the infield are “bad”, just that his body and tools seem to align with a CF. On this ball, he charges but does a nice job of timing up his footwork before fielding. Lewis catches the slow roller outside of his left foot, brings the ball back to his center, exchanges and throws on the run with a nice low arm slot. Many young infielders try to stop and/or throw this ball more over the top instead of keeping a bent upper half posture and letting the arm drop to a 3/4 slot.
On this double play feed from 2B Hiura does a nice job of pre-setting his right knee toward his target before fielding the ball. This slightly opens his hips so that the exchange and flip can be quicker. Hiura also does a nice job driving off his left leg toward his target and letting his legs flip the ball. A good thought for young infielders is to go shake the SS’s hand after flipping the ball. This promotes rhythm and using the lower half.
As you can see in the video, Burger is a massive, physical specimen. As the video begins you can see him getting to his toes as the ball hits the fungo. Burger then quickly crosses over and declares this ball a backhand. Notice how he fields this backhand with his feet slightly staggered. This allows him some room to stay loose and not get too tangled up. Burger gets his weight back on his right leg and drives toward 1B on the throw.
Allen is the smoothest fielding infielder taken in this years draft, and it’s pretty easy to see why in this video. Elite infielders have the ability to keep the ball from stopping. You can see here how Allen builds momentum BEFORE the ball arrives. This allows the ball to never stop moving on it’s way to 2B. Notice how Allen “clears leather” on the flip. In other words, he gets his glove out of the way so that the receiver (2B) can quickly see the ball. Just like Hiura, Allen drives with his legs and follows his flip. Future Gold Glover.