MLB Draft Preview 2014: Middle Infield Depth

Joe Robbins

In one sense, the Rockies are in really good shape when it comes to the middle infield, but then again, you just can't predict baseball.

When it comes to the draft, middle infield is one of the toughest places on the diamond to predict the future. Some guys might be able to play these positions defensively, but they just can't hit enough to make it to the show. Others end up with a bat strong enough to play at the MLB level, but have to be moved to a corner position. Only a select few are drafted as a middle infielder and blossom with both the bat and the glove enough to become a useful everyday player in this exclusive part of the field.

The Troy Tulowitzki Level

The Rockies were not only lucky enough to grab one of these seeds in 2005, but they've since watched it grow into the the prettiest flower in the garden in Troy Tulowitzki, who is the best hitter at his position in the game right now and at worst a top five defensive shortstop.

On Tulowitzki's right, we find not another middle infielder, but another player who is important to this discussion. Nolan Arenado is already a wizard defensively, and we're watching him make major strides as a hitter right before our eyes. This is important to note because it's very common to see great middle infield bats on the farm move to third base when they reach the MLB level if they are not a top of the line glove man. The Rockies have both Tulowitzki and Arenado  locked up through the end of the decade if they want, and if they can keep them both on the field, the only place the Rockies will need significant help anytime soon in this part of the field will be at second base.

This doesn't mean the Rockies should ignore this area, but it does mean they have much less pressure to produce top of the line talent that can play in this area.

Here's some of the depth in the organization at middle infield behind Tulo who doesn't plan to give up his keys to the kingdom any time soon.

Major League Level

DJ LeMahieu, 2B

For now, LeMahieu is a great option at second base. He's above average defensively, which is ideal with the heavy ground ball staff the Rockies currently employ, and he hits just enough to where he's not completely cringe worthy at the plate.

He's not flashy and at times will leave you wanting more, but he's a very serviceable option for the time being.

Josh Rutledge, 2B / SS

Rutledge is a bat that's hit at every minor league level and a bat I think is going to hit at the major league level as well. His problem is that he's not as good with the glove as LeMahieu, so playing time is tough to come by. he does however provide decent Tulo insurance all things considered (you can never even come close to completely replacing Tulo if he gets hurt).

Charlie Culberson, (All over the place)

A fringe MLB player. Can't start anywhere consistently (unless you have an absolute black hole at a position) but can fill in at several different positions. Right now, he finds his way into the lineup when Tulo and LeMahieu need days off with Rutledge on the DL.

Double-A Tulsa

Christian Adames, SS

Here's a guy we've watched quietly progressed through the system without much fanfare. However might end up being a halfway decent major league piece. He's still just 22, is above average with the glove (by most reports), and he's slowly catching on offensively against pitchers older than him. By next season, he could be knocking on the door for a major league roster spot.

Taylor Featherston, 2B (some SS)

Another quiet player. The biggest knock on Featherston is his age for the Texas League. At 24, he's a bit long in the tooth for Double-A. However, you can get on him for his play, as he's hitting .331 with a .407 OBP, and and .851 OPS in a league that slightly favors pitching.

High-A Modesto

Trevor Story, SS

Story is having an excellent bounce back season so far in his second year in the California League. His high strikeout rate leaves some question marks about his ability to make it at the major league level, but the ceiling is still very high here at just 21-years-old.

Rosell Herrera, SS / 3B

Just one month older than Story, Herrera is a very tough guy to figure out. He was very solid as an 18-year-old in Rookie ball in 2011, awful at Asheville in 2012, excellent in a bounce back year at Asheville in 2013, and now awful again in his jump to Modesto. He has just a .562 OPS with the Nuts so far. Like Story, his ceiling remains very high, but if reports are right, he might have to be moved away from the middle infield if he reaches the major league level.

There's plenty of time to watch both of these players.

Low-A Asheville

Patrick Valaika, SS (for now)

The Rockies have yet another 21-year-old in the low minors with a high ceiling. After some rough batting average on balls in play luck in Tri-City last season, Valaika is absolutely killing it in Asheville. Sure it's a hitter's paradise, but a .343 average with a .955 OPS is impressive if it's being done on the moon. This is yet another fun prospect to keep an eye on.

* * * * *

You can never have enough talent anywhere in your system, so it would be wrong to say the Rockies should ignore the middle infield in this upcoming draft. However, they do appear to be in excellent shape for the foreseeable future when it comes to the middle infield.

They have just about everything you could want. The best shortstop in the game, a glove / bat option at second base, two underrated prospects at Double-A, and then three more high ceiling prospects in the lower minors.

If there's an outstanding middle infielder available in this draft for the Rockies, I still want them to pick him up, but if it's close and they go another route, it's certainly understandable.

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