In the 4th round of today’s second day of the draft, the Astros snagged Florida prep infielder Alex Ulloa, the top hitter on a stacked Calvary Christian club that also included stud pitchers Andy Painter and Irv Carter. This was roughly Ulloa’s projected range, though he was sort of all over day two depending on whose rankings you were looking at. It’s hard to say exactly what Ulloa is known for, as it’s a very well balanced profile, but his bat is likely his best tool.
Earlier in the process, Ulloa was seen as a potential day one selection, but ended up being jumped in the rankings by other prep infielders with a bit more physicality. At 5’11” 180 lbs., Ulloa isn’t a guy who fills out a uniform in a remarkable way, but one who grows on you gradually with a blend of skills and baseball athleticism. He has manned the shortstop position as a prep, and for the most part, he gets very strong marks for his play there. His nimble hands are a standout trait- both in the field and at the plate- and evaluators are also big on his footwork on the dirt. Were there a bit more arm strength in the profile, he’d likely be projected as a shortstop stick, but most funnel him towards second base as its more of an average tool. While I agree that second is likely to be his primary position at the next level, I think there’s potential for him to offer you a bit of positional versatility.
While there’s some appeal in the defensive profile, at the dish is where Ulloa starts to separate. He doesn’t use the most power-oriented swing around, but it’s one that affords him lots of barrel variability, which combined with his advanced feel for contact, has resulted in consistent line drive contact thus far. The high level of performance holds particular weight here, as Ulloa was facing competition near the top of the prep game. There’s room for him to get to more of his pop, but his raw power really isn’t too shabby either- and with some adjustments, there’s potential for it to get into average territory. With an infield fit and potential for an above-average hit tool, that makes for a pretty intriguing package.
Thanks to his hitting prowess, Ulloa is the type of prep player who we can expect to be pushed aggressively for his age. We should see a lot of him in full-season ball next year, where he’ll add to a very interesting group that could include players like fellow draftee Tyler Whitaker, and rising international talents like Dauri Lorenzo.