It's hard to believe that last summer, Diekroeger was considered one of the guys in the mix to take 1-1 honors this season. Now? He'll be lucky to go in the sandwich round.
Part of that is the backlash against the Stanford hitting approach. Scouts dislike the Stanford style, claiming that all the Cardinal hitters turn into flat, line drive machines without any power. That was the knock on Jason Castro and why people thought Houston overdrafted Castro in 2008.
Well, maybe not the ONLY reason. Still, it's an accepted enough scouting truth that Baseball America wrote a pretty significant feature on why it's not true. You should really read through that before you think about guys like Diekroeger and then look at what Austin Wilson, another highly drafted high schooler, is doing there with that same hitting approach (hint: he's mashing).
The shortstop was drafted in the second round three years ago by Tampa Bay and really looked like he was breaking out in his freshman season. The problem is he's seen declines in his average and power every single season since then.
Diekroeger also has questions around his defense, and most people accept he'll have to move to second or third eventually. If he can't hit, though, it won't matter where he plays. A point in his favor is that he's cut down significantly on his errors this season, but as you know, errors don't necessarily show fielding ability.
You can see on the video below that he has a wide base on his swing and has a toe tap that makes his base even wider. All of that means his power is limited, unless he's crazy strong like Jeff Bagwell. Even Baggy got more hip rotation than Diekroeger seems to get here.
Those are fixable things, but you really have to have faith in his other skills standing up to take him now. I imagine Diekroeger will not go much higher than he did three seasons ago and may even drop a bit.
If there's an upside here, it's that his floor is relatively high. Most of the names of those Stanford hitters to be drafted in recent seasons at least make the majors. They don't necessarily become stars, but you can expect him to be some sort of backup on the lines of Matt Downs.
If he sticks at shortstop and regains some of his hitting prowess from early in his career, Diekroeger could be a very solid starter at that position for a number of years, with above average power and hit tools. That's valuable, and you could see Diekroeger going the way of Jed Lowrie, another Stanford shortstop, in the best-case scenarios.
Projected Draft Round
Looks like he'll be picked as a sandwich rounder at the best and a second or third rounder at the worst.
Will he sign?
He's a junior, and another year in college could technically help his stock, but with the way things have slipped, I'd imagine he'll sign to avoid slipping any further.
Bibliography after the jump
Diekroeger’s power is a little up this year (.401 SLG vs .365), has he changed his swing? "You always feel different, so you have to keep making tweaks to your swing. If you look at my swing now vs a few years ago, it is a little different. But I feel like that would be the case with a lot of people. I just do what I need to do at the time to make the right adjustment. When it comes to your swing, you have to have a short-term approach. You gotta do what you gotta do."
The Woodside, California native attended The Menlo School where he was a four year letterwinner. As a senior, he hit .586 over 18 games with 20 RBIs, 10 doubles, three triples and four homers over 58 at-bats before having his season cut short with a knee injury. He was named a prep first-team All-American by Baseball America, all-state, all-county, and league MVP honors. The Tampa Bay Rays picked him in the second round but were not able to come to an agreement so he decided to head to Stanford to continue his education.
Diekroeger turned down $2 million as a Rays second-round pick out of Menlo School (Atherton, Calif.) in 2009, and looked liked he'd cash in for more than that after three years at Stanford. He ranked as the top college prospect for 2012 entering his sophomore season. But after hitting .356/.391/.491 as a freshman, he has produced just .289/.353/.376 numbers the last two years after the NCAA toned down its bats. Diekroeger also hasn't demonstrated the range to play shortstop in the major leagues, putting more pressure on him to produce offensively. He fits best at second base because he doesn't have the power to profile at third base, and he could wind up as a utilityman because his versatility stands out more than any of his individual tools. He ranks 118th on BA's list of draft prospects and figures to go in the third to fifth round.
MLB Draft Countdown
He struggled to hit for power with the new bats in 2011, hitting only two home runs, after hitting five as a freshman. His average also dipped to a career-low of .292, just one season after becoming the first Stanford freshman to lead the team in hitting (.342) since 1997. That season he also became the first freshman to lead the team in RBIs—ever.
After his stellar freshman campaign, he headed off to the New England Collegiate League, where he won league batting honors and finished second to teammate Mark Appel as the top prospect in the league. He was noted for his athletic ability by scouts and coaches alike.
If he can continue to improve on defense, and have a bounce-back year at the plate, there’s no doubt that Diekroeger has the skills to go in the first-round.
His swing is now now very short and linear with a noisy lower half that doesn't give him much balance. He's an average runner who could stay at short if he regains his old flexibility and gets a lot of help with his footwork, without which he probably has to go to second. I'd love to see what he could do with a more typical pro swing in which he rotates his hips and tries to drive the ball like a 6-2, 200-pound hitter should, and I think some team will take a shot at him after the first round to see if they can restore the upside he had as a teenager.