2013 MLB Draft Positional Rankings: Middle Infield

Bob Levey

The TCB Draft team got together to establish the top 20 middle infield prospects in the 2013 MLB Draft

The middle infield is typically where you find some of the most exciting athletes in the draft. Christian Colon and Carlos Correa may be the most notable and recent ones. Proven players like Derek Jeter once held this position in high regard. There's a lot of risk with these positions because their value tends to rely on their ability to stay at shortstop. However, very few ever do and necessitate a move to second base or third base. Our rankings are based on guys who currently play the middle infield and will play there initially until proven that they cannot play there.

Players like Chad Pinder and Cavan Biggio play primarily third-base and will be ranked in the corner infield.

Unfortunately, this year isn't a strength in this division. This is a pretty weak class with many destined as second baseman and a few as third baseman, however many may not carry the bat to support a change.

1. John Paul (J.P.) Crawford, 6-2, 175, Lakewood HS (CA)

Toolsy lefty who destroyed the 2012 PG National Showcase. Top-notch athleticism. If he can maintain that athleticism while his body fills in and he adds strength, he will be crazy good. Some rawness to his game, but it comes easily to him. Good arm strength and instincts at shortstop. Gets his barrel on the ball and makes hard contact. Balanced at the plate. Extremely projectable. -Anthony Boyer

2. Oscar Mercado, 6-2, 175, Gaither HS (FL)

As impressive in the field as JP Crawford can be, there is no more natural shortstop in the 2013 draft than Oscar Mercado. In addition to his superb fluidity and range, Mercado displays all the instincts and skills necessary to man short in the big leagues. Rather than relying on speed and athleticism, not that he lacks them, Mercado consistently plays within himself in the field, showing a deft backhand and a willingness to make plays away from his body. Coupled with his quick release and above average arm, Mercado's shortstop actions make him the best defensive middle infielder in the 2013 class and a worthy first round pick. At the plate, he has a smooth swing with lots of extension that give him gap-to-gap power and the ability to spray line drives. He compares favorably to Andrelton Simmons. -kyuss94

3. Tim Anderson, 6-1, 171, East Central CC

The 6'1", 175-pound Anderson is an exciting prospect. The former two-sport athlete (basketball) burst onto the scene this spring, and is generating some first round buzz. The JuCo shortstop is good athlete, who plays solid defense, but doesn't have the arm to stick at short – if he did, he'd be in the conversation for top 10 pick. At the plate, he makes a lot of contact and has 15+ home run upside. I'm no scout, but his swing is one of my favorites in this class. His best tool is his speed, which scouts' grade as a 70. There's certainly some bust potential here. -jsams

4. Jan Hernandez, 6-3, 195, Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy (PR)

Former teammate of Carlos Correa, Hernandez has been able to move back to SS from 3B for his senior year now that Correa is playing professionally. He's not overly rangy and looks to have heavy legs which may force him to 3B, where he still has the arm for the position. He has above average tools and could be slightly above average across the board except for on the basepaths. -subber10

5. Hunter Dozier, 6-4, 220, Stephen F. Austin

Dozier is one of the best hitters in this category as he offers plenty at the plate. He has shown good walk rates and moderate strikeout rates at the collegiate level. However, being at SFA limits the quality of pitching he sees at the level. He has well above average size and strength for the position and with some loft in his swing, he projects to hit for above average and maybe even plus power at the pro level. His size is somewhat of a hindrance though, he needs lots of work to stay at SS and may be better suited as 3B or corner outfielder. -subber10

6. Chris Rivera, 6-1, 185, El Dorado HS (CA)

Rivera is an intriguing prospect in his own right. He is a tier below Crawford and Mercado in terms of upside and tools but has a better overall swing. He has good load and can drive the ball for plenty of doubles, but the swing path will limit having above average home run power. He has a good shot to stay at SS but could move off to 2B if needed. -subber10

7. Dustin Peterson, 6-2, 180, Gilbert HS (AZ)

Brother of DJ is one of the best-hitting HS prospects in this year's class. He reminds me of Cavan Biggio a bit, but ranks higher because of a stronger arm and more power potential. Like many HS shortstops, he'll probably move to third in pro ball. At 6'2", 180, he's an average athlete. Rio Ruiz is a decent comparison, from last year's class. He's committed to Arizona State. -jsams

8. Adam Frazier, 5-11, 174, Miss. State

Just 5'10", Frazier doesn't look the part of a professional shortstop, but he's a bulldog who consistently outperforms his tools. Despite a lack of power, he's excellent at working counts, putting balls in play, and hitting to the gaps. Excellent instincts and a very intelligent defender, which allows him to make the most of his limited toolset. He reminds me of David Eckstein. -Anthony Boyer

9. Andy McGuire, 6-1, 190, James Madison HS (VA)

Not to be mistaken with Reese McGuire, who is potentially the best catcher in the draft, Andy is a very good athlete who has been very well coached to this point. His skills are more present than most, but his tools aren't as loud as Crawford and Mercado. His best tool is his arm so he can handle a move to 3B if his range isn't up to par. His swing is good but he doesn't project for much more than average power. -subber10

10. JaCoby Jones, 6-3, 200, LSU

A behemoth by middle infield standards, Jones has been asked to play second base at LSU but should get a look at shortstop as a professional. A broad-shouldered 6'3", 200, Jones has athleticism in spades and possesses plenty of arm for shortstop. He has some rough corners in the field, particularly at short where hasn't played since high school other than in the Cape Cod League, but he has the defensive tools to play at almost any position should shortstop not work out, including second base or center field. At the plate, Jones has a long swing path and concerning lower body movement that has kept him from capitalizing on his significant raw power and bat speed. He shows flashes of great offensive potential, but to this point he has been a very average college hitter and needs a lot of work. -kyuss94

11. LJ Mazzilli, 6-1, 190, UCONN

The UConn second baseman profiles as a fringe starter or bench player at the MLB level, but is a relatively safe pick in the mid-rounds of the draft. The 2012 9th round pick is pretty average across the board. Think Daniel Murphy from the Mets. -jsams

12. Brandon Trinkwon, 6-1, 160, UCSB

A thin athlete with a lot of quickness in everything that he does, from his swing to his arm action. However, he has a very long stride for timing with his swing and is a little unconventional. He need to tone that down in the pros. He has some rawness to him but is intriguing. He projects to be average at best across the board except for potential for an above average avg/OBP. -subber10

13. Riley Unroe, 6-0, 180, Desert Ridge HS (AZ)

An athlete. Riley Unroe runs a 6.40 60, has terrific velocity across the infield, and provides explosive quickness on his first step. Some have called for a move to centerfield, though shortstop is certainly not out of the question. He's a switch-hitter with good bat speed, hard pull contact, and excellent balance at the plate. Better from the left side. Currently committed to USC. -Anthony Boyer

14. Trae Arbet, 6-1, 180, Great Oak HS (CA)

He's a very quick twitch athlete with a line drive swing plane that could allow for him to hit for a good average as a pro. He also has good coordination and covers the plate well. His arm is just average and may need to move second base eventually as a result. I don't see him for hitting much power outside of doubles. -subber10

15. Connor Heady, 6-0, 165, North Oldham HS (KY)

There isn't too much to Heady. He doesn't have a standout tool, but rather five serviceable tools. I think he just has enough range and arm to play shortstop in the pros. MLB upside is a bench player. The 6', 170-pound shortstop is committed to Kentucky. -jsams

16. Garrett Hampson, 6-1, 175, Reno HS (NV)

Hampson is kinda a poor man's Tim Anderson. Both guys are plus-plus runners, with a background in basketball, a projectable hit tool, and too weak of an arm to stick at short. He doesn't have the same power potential as Tim Anderson, but he'll be a nice lottery ticket for whichever team drafts him. The 6', 170-pound Hampson is committed to Long Beach State. -jsams

17. Gosuke Katoh, 6-2, 180, Rancho Bernardo HS (CA)

Katoh's lack of arm strength is the only thing preventing him from being talked about as one of the top middle infield prospects in the entire draft. He's got terrific instincts and a plus-plus glove, but the limitations of his arm will likely keep him at second base. Solid approach, patient hitter at the plate, with a level, line-drive swing that generates nice loft. -Anthony Boyer

18. Lonnie Kauppila, 6-1, 180, Stanford

A wiry 6'1" infielder for Stanford, Kauppila is a heady and athletic defender who likely has the glove to crack a major league roster at some point. He is fluid and confident in the field and makes plays effectively on both sides of his body, finishing them with an accurate arm, even if the strength thereof is just average. His bat is harder to gush about. He lacks bat speed and he isn't especially quick to the ball, and his frame, though projectable to a degree, does not forecast much in the way of raw power. That said, he does show discipline at the plate and shows a solid utility profile. -kyuss94

19. Patrick Blair, 5-10, 187, Wake Forest

Nolan Fontana 2.0. The Houston Astros' 24th-round pick in 2012, Blair provides a solid glove, good instincts, and a plus arm at shortstop, though his future may include a position switch, and he may even end up as a backup/reserve utility infielder. But what he does better than almost anyone is draw walks. It's likely he'll finish this season in the top 30 in NCAA Division I in walks, and it will be his 3rd straight year doing so. -Anthony Boyer

20. Wesley Jones, 6-2, 180, Regan HS (GA)

Jones is a very strong athlete that won't struggle to standout. His athleticism allows for fielding to come natural to him, although his footwork appears awkward at times. So, a move may be necessary just to find a position he feels very comfortable with, and his arm shouldn't limit that position change. At the plate, his swing is very compact and he does a great job of keeping his hands back. He's a hitter who should be able to hit to all fields down the line. He doesn't use legs much though and with fairly level swing plane, most of his power will come through doubles. -subber10

Honorable Mention

Errol Robinson, Sheldon Neuse, John Sternagel, Matt Reida, Tucker Neuhaus

Next Up: Corner Infield

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