College players who can hit and handle a premium defensive position usually show well on draft day. The 2018 MLB Draft is 28 hours away as I write this, but the placement of Missouri State University shortstop Jeremy Eierman remains uncertain. He was viewed as a possible first-round pick six months ago and that could still happen, though a few questions in his profile weren’t really answered this spring. Let’s take a look.
Jeremy Eierman is from Warsaw, Missouri. Scouts were aware of him in high school as both his father John and brother Johnny were professional players, but Jeremy was undrafted as a prep and honored his commitment to the Missouri State University Bears.
Inserted into the starting lineup as a freshman, he performed solidly with a .296/.336/.504 line in 230 at-bats in 2016. He struggled in the Cape Cod League that summer at .192/.261/.240, but returned in the spring and exploded with a .313/.431/.675 line, whacking 23 homers and stealing 17 bases.
Selected for Team USA last summer, he hit just .125 in 18 games and went 2-for-15 with seven strikeouts in brief Cape Cod League action. Eierman came into 2018 as a plausible first-round pick but needing to answer questions about how his bat will play as a pro.
Those questions are still open.
On the surface Eierman played pretty well this spring, hitting .293/.335/.530 with 10 homers, 21 steals, 26 walks and 46 strikeouts in 215 at-bats, but overall his 2018 was not as good as 2017 due to issues with approach and swing mechanics.
Eireman is plenty strong and has more natural power than the typical shortstop, but he’s quite aware of this and presses to show that power, MLB.com noting that he “sold out for home runs this spring with negative results. He widened his setup, adopted more of a crouch and has been overly aggressive and pull-happy.” This accords with my own observations of Eierman being less patient and more vulnerable to skilled changes of speed this year.
All that said, there are still a lot of things to like here. He is a plus runner and very adept at using that speed on the bases. His arm is even better than his speed, and while some observers project an eventual move to third base, he’s been reliable at shortstop and I think there’s a reasonable chance he can stay there. He is well-respected for his work ethic and hustle and having baseball bloodlines is always a plus.
Overall, despite the questions about his approach Eierman’s combination of power, speed, and defense will still make him an early pick, probably in the back half of the first round or in the supplemental rounds. He has some flaws to work on but there are too many positives to overlook.
Baseball America video