Welcome back to this week’s edition of 2023 MLB draft profiles for your Seattle Mariners! We’re continuing our dive into the high school player pool, this time looking at some guys that are likely to remain at shortstop in their professional careers. The recent chatter I’ve seen regarding the Mariners expected draft strategy indicates that they’re looking to maximize their offensive upside in the early rounds of the draft, and these players certainly fit that bill. I’m not going to pretend I have some inside source telling me something, but with Jerry Dipoto’s recent comments of the draft being “the deepest he’s ever been a part of, particularly on the hitting side,” I certainly wouldn’t wager against Seattle and their three first rounders selecting a handful of position players in the first few rounds. Without further ado, let’s kick it off with a tooled up shortstop out of Georgia, Colin Houck.
Houck is a Georgia native that has some tremendous upside. Of the prep players that I have no doubt will be able to stick at shortstop at the next level, Houck ranks second behind Arjun Nimmala, a player the Mariners will almost certainly have no shot at selecting in July. Houck is a fantastic athlete that has been recruited as both a quarterback and shortstop at Mississippi State. With a simple, compact swing that lends itself well to generating some excellent bat speed, he’s incredibly quick to the ball and has a good feel for finding the barrel. His barrel ability alongside his strong 6’2 frame allows him to really damage the baseball.
Packed house for Colin Houck (SS @ Parkview, ‘23 elig.). He was great as always tonight in a DH, 5-7 with 2BBs & 3 doubles. Single to LF in the video pic.twitter.com/0NQGyyuimc— (@Data_prospects) April 18, 2023
On the dirt, he’s got really good actions and a tremendous arm. He’s got solid speed and can make plays moving laterally, both up the middle and in the hole. The arm can play anywhere on the diamond should he have to move off the position, but he would be moving off the position because someone at the big league level is already established. He should have no trouble being an everyday shortstop should he be asked to do so.
Houck has a shot to slip to the Mariners and their picks in the 20’s, however he’s also got a shot to go in the early teens. There has been talk of him landing at 14 in Boston, a team that has taken players similar to Houck’s profile in recent years. He’s a name to monitor on draft day.
Of all the prep players covered in this series so far, Santana may be the most unique. It’s not an unusual profile per se, but Santana has carved out a legitimate day one profile in a way most prep shortstops don’t. Standing around 6 feet tall (conflicting reports depending on who you ask) and far from filled out, Santana is not an imposing physical specimen like most high school shortstops with first round consideration. Despite this, he’s explosive in the box with quick hands from both sides of the plate. He has been showing more power promise this year, launching eleven homeruns so far this season and has good contact skills to boot. The bat, however, is not the primary appeal despite its upside.
Strong look tonight at 2023 SS Adrian Santana, who was on-base four times.— Ian Smith (@FlaSmitty) April 21, 2023
RBI oppo knock here to extend the lead late. Flashed the double-plus speed w/ a 3.99 H-1st as a LHH. @PBR_DraftHQ @ShooterHunt pic.twitter.com/vhkFBZKfsi
Santana can flat out fly. Borderline elite runner at present. This lends itself well on the dirt where he’s an excellent defender at shortstop and has a good arm. He’s considered one of the better prep defenders in the class and can use his speed and athleticism to make some really tough plays. The profile is similar to Edwin Arroyo but is more polished and has some louder tools than Arroyo did when he was drafted. Very high risk, high reward type of prospect that needs refinement but could pay huge dividends.
Another switch hitter, Anderson is a physical shortstop with long levers that has some room to add on some muscle as a pro. He’s got a really nice swing from either side and is more smooth than twitchy, but still has some considerable pop when he lifts the ball to the pull side. The hit tool is solid and he really has a knack for making hard contact. It’s a fun offensive profile with some pretty considerable upside.
2B Antonio Anderson (GA, 2023) gets a fastball over the middle and barrels it up for a double off the RF wall. Rhythm and athleticism evident in his two strike swing here. pic.twitter.com/BQbeWnjYeS— Will Hoefer (@whoeferbaseball) September 17, 2022
Anderson isn’t a great runner, but he’s far from a poor runner either. At present, he’s probably an average runner, perhaps a bit better. The arm is good and the actions on the infield are excellent, however if he loses a step or two adding strength, it may be best for him to shift to second or third base at the pro level. It’s not as though he’s destined to move off of shortstop, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Should that be the case, the bat is more than good enough to play at a corner and the defensive profile can easily stick at second.
Anderson is a player I think will end up going in either the late first round or second round, making him a prime target for the M’s should he be there at 29, 30, or perhaps even 57 depending on how much money he’d like to forego college. He’s got a tremendous ceiling and could be the exact type of player they’re targeting in this draft.
Sammy Stafura (an 80-grade name) is such a fun prospect in this year’s draft. He’s a super explosive athlete that has room to fill out and there’s some pretty serious potential for power with quick hands and added physicality. He’s got a good ability to hit spin and velocity as well, a big vote of confidence for a cold weather state hitter (NY). The hit tool will be the deciding factor, just as it is for almost all prep shortstops. If Stafura can make above average levels of contact, you’ve got a truly special talent. He’s done a great job so far as if his listed high school statistics are correct, he has struck out a grand total of one time (1!!!) in his entire high school career, occurring over two years ago. Granted, he’s not necessarily playing the nation’s best in New York, but that’s tough to do regardless of who you’re playing.
2023 shortstop Sammy Stafura delivers the walk-off home run in the playoffs yesterday—his second home run of the day—to send Walter Panas HS in New York to the championship game.— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) May 23, 2023
Big name to watch trending up for the MLB draft. pic.twitter.com/ssJB7nY77P
Stafura, like the aforementioned Santana, is a freakishly fast runner. Maybe a tick slower than Santana, but still a 60 or 70 on the 20-80 scale. With that speed comes fantastic defense up the middle, where he absolutely will play at the next level. If everything goes right with Stafura, you’re talking about a player that could have a 20 homer 20 stolen base season with excellent defense at shortstop. He’s far from a lock to do that, but the upside is there. I have him as a fringe first round pick right now, but it’s tough to know how teams will value a high variance prospect from a cold weather state and you could see him slip a ways. Regardless, he’s another high upside player the M’s may be looking to target come July.
That concludes this week’s draft segment. With just six weeks until the draft, there are still plenty of intriguing players left to cover, including some power arms the Mariner Pitching Lab might be salivating over. GOMS!