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Draft  | Story  | 1/30/2024

MLB Draft: Positional Recap & Preview

Tyler Henninger      Isaiah Burrows      Tyler Kotila     
Positional Recap & Preview: Catchers | Corner Infielders

It’s a new calendar year, and while earlier this month, the PG Draft Team was busy as we updated our 2024, 2025, and 2026 draft boards, we will get back into some draft history by position. It’s the same series that we had been tackling through the month of December! 



This time, the PG Draft team is winding the clocks back to 2021, 2022, and 2023, respectively, breaking down middle infielders of past and present. We’ll talk through some of the players who were first off the board in their respective draft years, what they brought to the table, etc.  

Then, our PG Draft Team will make some of their own picks, diving into this year’s 2024 draft class, with the middle infielders who might be the first off the board at the high school and collegiate levels this July. 



2021 Draft History

Prep: Marcelo Mayer, 4th Overall, Boston Red Sox 

The Pirates may have shocked the masses when they cut a deal with Henry Davis as the first overall pick, signing under-slot in 2021. But, when the Boston Red Sox had the chance to select Marcelo Mayer at fourth overall, they jumped on it. Jack Leiter went second, and Jackson Jobe was third off the board to the Detroit Tigers, shocking plenty of folks as well, as many thought Mayer was destined to be a Tiger after the first two picks. But Mayer was scooped up at fourth overall by the Red Sox. The former PG All-American was the no.2 player in his class, behind only Brady House, who the Washington Nationals later selected. Heading into Draft Day, Mayer was no. 1 on the PG Draft Board, so it's no surprise he was first off the board. Mayer's got plenty to like about him, being a quality athlete overall, with a 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame. He drew comparisons to the likes of Corey Seager, and with a smooth left-handed stroke & great feel for the barrel, plenty of bat speed, and power upside, it was hard to overlook the prep shortstop. Mayer's made it to Double-A for the Red Sox organization since being drafted, spending most of his time in High-A Greenville last season. The long-term upside is what the Red Sox are dreaming on. It's easy to see why he was first off the board in 2021. - Tyler Kotila 

College: Matt McLain, 17th Overall, Cincinnati Reds 

While Mayer was off the board early in 2021, the first college middle infielder off the board took a bit. Near the mid-point of the first round, it was former UCLA Bruins shortstop Matt McLain who the Cincinnati Reds snatched up. Throughout the spring of 2021, McLain had moved up and down draft boards, being as high as the 5-8 range on some I remember seeing and being lower down around the 17-20 range. As the spring usually does, it sorts things out, and McLain ended up being a mid-first-rounder and has already vaulted himself through the Reds organization. McLain was 18th on the Final PG Draft Board in 2021 as a collegiate draft prospect. He was a former first-rounder who turned down money to go to UCLA, betting on himself, and he moved up eight spots in doing so. As a draft prospect, he was slated to be a future SS/CF by most scouts, with his plus speed and great instincts on the dirt. The athleticism is there and what makes him versatile to move around the infield, as the Reds organization has already learned. He’s had plenty of bat speed and a feel for the barrel, doing well in his development with the Reds. With Elly De La Cruz likely a mainstay at shortstop, McLain could prove quite valuable with his versatility and projection of a plus hit tool. - TK 

2022 Draft History

College: Brooks Lee, SS, Cal Poly 

Lee was long distinguished as one of the top college players in the entire draft, and there was reason to think he could go well into the Top 3. The Cal Poly product “fell” to the Minnesota Twins at eight and has done nothing but perform. Lee was a polished switch hit tool with plus swing decisions and above-average power. There was some trepidation the frame may kick him over, but Lee has stuck primarily at shortstop in pro ball and showed the same instincts all while raking in the process. He managed an .808 OPS with 16 homers in his first full pro season in 2023 and made it all the way to Triple-A. At this trajectory, look for Lee to handle his own up the middle in the big leagues very soon. -Isaiah Burrows

Prep: Jackson Holliday, SS, Stillwater HS (OK) 

Hard to go higher than No. 1 overall, and that’s exactly what Holliday accomplished with his selection by the Baltimore Orioles. The Stillwater High School product flashed gaudy tools that summer of 2021 and helped separate himself into a different tier during the 17u WWBA. With one of the prettiest swings in the class, it was a promising 60-grade hit tool at the prep level with the athleticism and arm to stick up the middle of the dirt long term. The power took off in a huge way that spring, and Holliday vaulted all the way to the first pick. Since his selection, he’s continued to impress. He is listed as he top prospect in baseball on several highly acclaimed publications and made it to Triple-A in 2023 at the ripe age of 19. The future is bright for the Orioles, and Holliday looks to be a big piece of that.  -IB
 
2023 Draft History
 

Prep: Arjun Nimmala, Strawberry Crest HS (FL), 20th pick (1st rd.)

After five collegiate middle infielders were taken in the first nineteen picks, Nimmala was the first prep middle infielder off of the board with the 20th overall selection. Lightning quick hand speed made Nimmala stand out above his peers. A clean path to contact with extension out front allowed him to generate massive power with relative ease. The offensive ability along with a lean, projectable build and smooth defensive actions, gave Nimmala one of the better prep profiles in the class. -Tyler Henninger 
 

College: Jacob Wilson, Grand Canyon, 6th pick (1st rd.) 

Wilson generated a lot of buzz after a dominant summer showing prior to his junior year. The Grand Canyon shortstop carried buzz throughout the spring, hitting .412/.461/.635 and ending up the sixth player off the board. Wilson featured some of the best bat-to-ball skills in recent history, posting a ridiculous 2.3% strikeout rate in ‘23 and 4.4% career strikeout rate at GCU. Wilson also flashed some pull side power during in-game action. Standing at 6-foot-3, 190-pounds, the slender frame hints at plenty of more power down the line. The power potential and bat-to-ball skills gave Wilson a high upside profile worthy of a Top-10 pick. -TH


Looking ahead to the 2024 MLB Draft: 

Prep: Caleb Bonemer, SS, Okemos HS, Virginia Commit 

Perhaps one of the best prep shortstops I’ve seen on the circuit is Caleb Bonemer. In the latest draft board update, Bonemer clocks in at 26th overall. The Okemos, Mich. native is committed to Virginia, but he’s expected to be one of the first prep names off the board this spring, tracking as a first-rounder, and since we’re talking about being off the board early, he’s my pick to be the first prep middle infielder off the board in 2024’s draft. Bonemer’s got a 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame with a real physical frame with athleticism as a 6.35 runner. There’s a ton to dream on with Bonemer, handling the bat well with plus-power. He managed a 107 mph exit velocity during PG National, but metrics aside, the ball jumps off the bat. He’s a threat to leave the yard when he steps in the box, and even deep into counts, he’s shown the ability to shorten up and still get on the barrel and find a way on. Defensively, the arm strength across is certainly there, with clean actions & footwork on the dirt. The former PG All-American is definitely in the running to be the first prep middle infielder off the board. - TK 

Charlie Bates, SS, Palo Alto HS (CA) 

Bates is arguably the premier defender in this year’s prep class with all the traits you want to stick at short long term. He’s silky smooth up the middle with an above-average arm and a lean, wiry frame to build upon. At the plate, Bates has good barrel skills from a loose left-handed swing. It’s a good prep hit tool, producing sound all-fields contact and the power has shown flashes at some of the premier events of the summer, giving his offensive potential a lot to dream upon along with his defensive acumen on the dirt. Bates, a Stanford commit, may be a tough sign but is a good bet to establish himself as the top prep shortstop.  -IB

College: Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State 

In the latest draft board update, Oregon State's second baseman, Travis Bazzana, came in at no.3 on our board. He's very quickly become someone who's in 1:1 contention early on in this draft process. While JJ Wetherholt was no.1 on our latest draft board, another loud spring from Bazzana could vault him up to the top spot come draft day. Bazzana's a 6-foot, 199-pound junior hailing from Sydney, Australia. The left-handed hitting second baseman has a ton to like about him. He's got a quirky setup in the box, similar to the stance Jace Jung showed during his days with Texas Tech, though Bazzana's bat tip is more pointing downward. A quirky setup nonetheless, but with plus power and a '23 performance slashing .374/.500/.622, backed up with a loud summer on the Cape, he's got plenty of attention heading into this spring. He has a ton of bat-to-ball skills with the strength to produce high-exit velocities and damage with the stick. He's got great instincts, and altogether, it's a really safe profile with the potential to be a 1:1 pick this spring. The First-Team Pre-season All-American has great makeup with tools on the field, with plenty of folks excited to see what this spring brings from Bazzana. -TK 

College: Anthony Silva, SS, TCU 

One of the best defenders in the class, expect TCU shortstop Anthony Silva to hear his name called early in July if the hit/power continues to trend upward. It’s a pro style body at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds with a comfortable plus arm across and rangy actions up the middle. He is fluid in all facets and can uncork an absolute cannon from different slots. The hit tool impressed last year with good bat-to-ball skills, all fields contact and good swing decisions at the plate. If Silva’s power shows up more consistently, the draft-eligible sophomore has a real chance to surge up boards.  -IB


Prep: Carter Johnson, Oxford HS (AL)

Johnson has a chance to skyrocket up draft boards this spring. A fluid left-handed swing generates easy bat speed and advanced power that plays from middle to pullside of the field. A lean, athletic frame at 6-foot-2, 180-pounds projects well for even more power down the line. Johnson shows confident hands and footwork on the infield. Clean actions allow for routine plays to be made consistently. He should be able to slide over to second or third and handle himself there if needed. No matter where he plays defensively, the upside at the plate could make Johnson one of the first prep infielders off the board this summer. -TH
 

College: JJ Wetherholt, West Virginia

Wetherholt has the potential to not only be the first middle infielder off the board, but could end up the first player off the board. Athletic actions allow for quality range in both directions and should result in above-average defense at second base. The left-handed hitting Wetherholt features plus bat speed and plus bat-to-ball skills, making for a high-end offensive skillset. Advanced power plays to all-fields and can launch balls pullside when the bat head gets out front. Quality speed allows for bases to be stolen often and rounds out one of the louder profiles in the class. -TH