50 in 50: Levi Michael

Draft : : Top Prospects
Allan Simpson        
Published: Monday, May 30, 2011

Levi Michael
SS-2B / North Carolina

Bats-Throws: B-R
Height/Weight: 5-10/180
Hometown: Welcome, N.C.
Previously Drafted: Never drafted
Birthdate: Feb. 9, 1991

In a draft deep in talent, but noticeably thin in premium college shortstops, Michael stands to become one of the first middle infielders selected. It’s unclear, though, whether Michael will be drafted as a second baseman or shortstop—though the team that ultimately drafts him will almost certainly believe he can play shortstop at the next level in order to get maximum value out of the pick. Michael has a live body and is the best athlete on the Tar Heels roster. He has played all over the infield in his three seasons at North Carolina—second base as a freshman, third baseman as a sophomore, shortstop as a junior. He has the soft, quick hands desired in a shortstop, and the quick feet to get to most balls. His arm strength also plays on the left side. Most scouts believe Michael will ultimately end up at second base because he just seems like a better fit there, though he did find a comfort level this spring at shortstop, committing just seven errors. He had 13 at third base in 2010, 15 at second base in 2009. Michael was hampered this spring by an ankle injury, but it seemed to impact his game more at the plate and on the bases, more than in the field. As a sophomore, he topped the Tar Heels in almost every offensive category—batting (.346), slugging (.575), on-base average (.480), runs (76), homers (9), stolen bases (20)—but was not as dominant a hitter this season, batting .313-5-48 overall with 15 stolen bases. A switch-hitter, Michael generates slightly better raw power from the right side, but is considered a more complete hitter lefthanded as he has a shorter swing with more bat speed from that side. Overall, he is a polished, patient hitter (46:37 walk-to-strikeout ratio this season) with the ability to drive balls to the gaps. With above-average speed and excellent base-running instincts, he has an ideal combination of skills for a top-of-the-order hitter. Though Michael does not have one exceptional tool, he has very polished skills and is solid in every area of his game. He generally gets the most out of his ability as he plays exceptionally hard and has an excellent approach to the game. Michael is one of the younger college players in this draft as he turned 20 in February. Like high-profile UCLA righthander Trevor Bauer, projected to be one of the top picks in the 2011 draft, Michael graduated a semester early from high school, and joined the North Carolina baseball program in the spring of what should have been his senior year at North Davidson High. At a then 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds, Michael had surprisingly polished skills, but didn’t appear to be physically mature enough to compete at the NCAA Division I level. He shot down that concern quickly, hitting 13 home runs (his career high) with 57 RBIs, while batting .290. Now a junior with three college seasons under his belt, Michael has become the unquestioned team leader of a 45-14 Tar Heels squad and is projected to be picked late in the first round, approximately the same position that Hawaii second baseman Kolten Wong should be drafted. Though Michael hasn’t played second base since his freshman year, he and Wong are similar players, with Wong having a bit more strength with the bat and Michael the better arm, with Michael having the obvious advantage of potentially being able to play shortstop at the big-league level.

Projected Draft Position:
Late first round / sandwich round.

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