College shortstops who can hit and field their position always rank well on draft day, particularly if they come from a major school and have played against quality competition.
University of North Carolina shortstop Logan Warmoth checks off all of those boxes. Viewed as a second or third round talent back in January, his junior season has been excellent, making him a virtual lock for at least the back part of the first round. Let’s take a look.
Born in Orlando on September 6th, 1995, Warmoth played high school baseball in Altamonte Springs, Florida. He was well-known to scouts as a prep, drawing notice for his athleticism and defense. However, there were questions about his bat and he was committed to North Carolina. Considered unsignable, he wasn’t drafted by anyone in 2014.
He was inserted into the Tar Heels starting lineup as a freshman, hitting just .246/.315/.282 but stealing 11 bases and holding the job due to his glove. He improved as a sophomore to .337/.402/.482 in 208 at-bats, then proceeded to hit a very solid .270/.330/.450 in 100 at-bats in the wooden bat Cape Cod League, putting him on the draft map for ‘17.
He’s maintained the power surge from last summer, hitting .355/.438/.609 this spring with seven homers, 15 steals in 17 attempts, and a solid 16/21 K/BB in 135 at-bats. He continues to impress defensively and the combination makes him viable as a first rounder.
Warmoth is listed at 6-0, 180 or 190 depending on the source. A switch-hitter in high school, he hits exclusively from the right side now and has made it work. Coming into college he was respected for above-average speed and general athleticism, but critiqued for lack of power and strength. He’s addressed those concerns, as with maturity he’s able to drive the ball for distance much more often now even without massive changes in his swing and general approach.
The power surge began last spring, continued with wooden bats at Cape Cod, and has accelerated in 2017. While he’s still not expected to be a big home run hitter, he’ll hit his share of doubles and has sufficient strength to earn the respect of pitchers. Controlling the strike zone and getting on base are also strengths, and he’s very adept at using his speed on the bases.
On defense, he features above-average range, hands, and instincts at shortstop and is far more reliable than most defenders his age.
Warmoth doesn’t have the strongest arm in the world. It isn’t weak, but it isn’t a high-powered electromagnetic railgun, either. In college ball it plays well at shortstop due to his quick release and sound instincts, but skeptics worry that he’ll have to shift to second base at the highest levels.
This is not a unanimous concern but it could be just enough to keep him from the top echelon of the first round.
Warmoth is one of the safest picks in the draft, a polished college hitter who will provide batting average, OBP, speed, solid power, and has a chance to stick at shortstop. Right now he ballparks around the middle of the first round.