In the first round of the MLB Draft, seven infielders were selected. Two college players and five high school phonemes. We’re going to do a detailed analysis of the MLB Draft Infielders selected in the first round.
2nd Pick – 3B Nick Senzel University of Tennessee
First of all, Senzel does a slight motion to get his feet off the ground right as the ball is thrown up by the fungo hitter. I call this getting to his toes. This is simulating the ball entering the hitting zone of the batter. We compare this move to tennis players that are preparing themselves to return a 100MPH serve. As a result, getting to our toes allows our first step to be as quick and efficient as possible.
A subtle glove tap on the ground serves as a mental reminder for Senzel to work “Ground up”, and stay as low as he can throughout the fielding process. It’s hard to see from this camera angle but Senzel sets his feet slightly staggered with his left foot slightly behind his right. Consequently, this forces us to play the ball “middle-left”. Playing the ball between the middle of my body to my right foot causes my hands and wrist to get stiff.
After fielding, Senzel works a quick funnel followed by a 4 step throwing pattern with a glove tap. Using this pattern when you have the time allows the upper body to stay in rhythm with the lower body. Good infielders rarely let the ball stop moving. Especially relevant, you notice in this video how the ball never stops throughout the entire process.
I’m not sure what this catch has to say about his overall defensive ability, but he is selfless
What a catch😲 https://t.co/vbsAeMCgLQ
— Ballplayer Plus (@BallPlayerPlus) April 17, 2016
13th Pick – 3B Joshua Lowe, Pope HS (GA)
I have always felt the easier ball to field is the ball hit slightly to your left. This is the ground ball that almost forces you to stay in great rhythm throughout the fielding process. Lowe shows on his approach to the ground ball the ability to play “In a 4 foot house”. In other words, he stays in his legs throughout. This is something that is often difficult for a player of his size.
Another thing I like is his hand set-up. Upon approaching the ball, Lowe keeps his hands in what I call his holsters (Meaning thumbs up, beside his hips – Like a cowboy with guns on his side). What this does is allows his to have an “early glove.” A lot of young infielders tend to be “flippers”, meaning they take their hands way up by their neck and then flip the glove open at the last second before fielding. It is hard to say much about the throw, mainly because one thing you will notice about showcases is guys are just trying to put up a MPH # (Which he did by throwing 95!!).
20th Pick – SS Gavin Lux Indian Trail Academy (WI)
My favorite defensive infielder of the draft. Just watching this short GIF and it’s pretty clear why this kid was taken as high as he was. The quickness in his feet and hands are off the charts. This is a kid that has dedicated himself to the defensive side of the ball and it shows. Lux gets to his toes when the ball enters the hitting zone, works a very quick and quiet “Right-Left-Field”, and gets a nice long hop.
Notice how aggressive he is in his throwing pattern. Not only is he gaining quality ground toward first base, he is doing it in a rapid manner. Lux also has great body posture on his throw. “Short bottom, tall top” is a phrase we use to describe the athletic position we need to be in while attacking out target. Here Lux shows a great athletic posture.
22nd Pick – 3B Will Craig, Wake Forest
I like Will Craig a lot, and enjoyed watching him play this year at Wake Forest. Putting him right after the quick, slick fielding prospect like Lux probably doesn’t do him any favors. As you can tell, Craig is a bigger guy that has to really work on his speed and quickness if he is going to stay at 3rd base.
On this ground ball, you notice Craig get to fielding position with slightly staggered feet like we saw with Senzel. Watch his left foot as he fields the ball and you will notice his shin is already pointed to his intended target. Craig gets a nice big, long hop here, fields, and works a 4 step pattern with a glove tap. I like Craig’s 3/4 arm angle on his throw. This is something that is not practiced enough in youth baseball. Experiment with different arm angles and as a result you’ll get “comfortable with the uncomfortable.”
23rd pick – SS Delvin Perez, PJ Education School (P.R.)
Another guy with off the charts athleticism is Delvin Perez. What’s most noteworthy about this video is the glove tap before fielding. A great way to keep your hands athletic and free is to mix in a small glove tap while approaching the ball. I like to tell my infielders to tap the “pocket” of the glove to prepare for the feel of the incoming ball hitting that same spot. Although Keith Law has a review of him staying too tall in his fielding process, he does a much better job of that in this GIF. Perez picks a short hop, works a very quick 4 step pattern with glove tap and finishes the throw.
Check out this amazing play he made at the Perfect Game WWBA World Championship
24th pick – SS Hudson Sanchez, Carroll (Texas) HS
Sanchez does a nice job in this GIF of getting to an athletic position and on his toes at contact. Much like Perez before him, Sanchez works a small glove tap before fielding this ground ball. Sanchez does close his bottom half off a bit too much on his throw, which likely causes arm-side run on his throws. I would like to see him work to get his hips open and square to his target earlier in the throwing process. Sanchez also, like Craig, has a slight 3/4 arm angle on this throw.
28th pick – 3B Carter Kieboom, Walton HS (Marietta, Ga.)
Like I stated earlier, hitting an infielder a ground ball slightly to their left will really get them in rhythm. Here Kieboom has a quick first step to his glove side, while tracking the ball with his eyes. The best way to read hops is to get your body to the right of the ball. I use the comparison: If you are standing on the highway and a car is coming toward you – how fast is it going? It’s hard to tell. Opposite, if you’re sitting on the side of the road and one goes by – it’s easier to tell. The same applies for ground balls. In addition, Kieboom arrives on time to this ground ball, receives a long hop, works a 4 step pattern and finishes the throw. Notice the small glove tap BEFORE fielding the ball as well. Stay athletic!
In conclusion, the best current fielder selected in the first round of MLB Draft Infielders is Delvin Perez. Will Craig, who has the best bat in this list, is the least likely to stick at his position. Excluding Senzel and Craig, the other five high school products showed at least one advanced tools that can play at the next level.