/ St. John’s University
Drafted: Never Drafted
PROFILE: In one of the deepest drafts in years, scouts have
lamented the lack of quality middle infielders in the college ranks.
But Panik has quietly been moving up draft boards this spring and has
reached a point, on the eve of the draft, that he might seriously
challenge Hawaii second baseman Kolten Wong and North Carolina
shortstop Levi Michael to become the first middle infielder taken.
Even if he falls short, Panik could still slip into the back end of
the first round. The New York-based scouts who have followed Panik
since early in his high-school career have noted his year-to-year
improvement, and that improvement was especially evident this year,
particularly in his performance at the plate. He made a very easy
transition to the new bat standards introduced at the NCAA level,
hitting .402-9-56 vs. .374-10-53 with aluminum as a sophomore. He
played a vital role in all phases of the game in leading St. John’s
to an unexpected regional berth, topping the Red Storm in batting,
homers, runs (59), stolen bases (21) and walks (42). Panik was also
the glue to a Yarmouth-Dennis team that posted the best
regular-season record in the Cape Cod League last summer, and reached
the league final. Scouts are impressed with his excellent feel for
hitting, especially his polished, disciplined approach and
strike-zone awareness. He earns high marks, as well, for his smooth,
easy, compact lefthanded swing and ability to barrel up balls on a
consistent basis. He flashes power, but it is mostly to the gaps. The
single quality that scouts may most admire about Panik, though, is
his general approach to the game. He is a very steady, dependable
player with an excellent work ethic and game awareness. He comes to
play every day and goes about his job with no flash, just substance.
He never gets too high, or too low. Panik consistently plays above
his tools as his power and speed, and range in the field are limited.
Though his raw speed is not an asset, he more than makes up for it
with superior base-running instincts. Scouts are impressed with his
long, lean athletic frame, but aren’t convinced he will remain at
shortstop as he climbs the ladder in professional baseball. He has
the soft hands and quick feet to play short, but his range and arm
strength may be better suited for second base. He had labrum surgery
on his shoulder following his freshman season at St. John’s and has
some difficulty, at times, making the long throw from the hole at
shortstop. Because of the way he plays the game, Panik ranks as one
of the safer, more low-risk players in this draft, and that quality
alone will make him appealing to a number of clubs.
Draft Position: Compensation round.
Game Events Attended
2005 WWBA Underclass Championship