10. 3B, Zach Lutz – At this point, Lutz will likely have to endure the effects of his injuries for the rest of his career and how they effect his defense over the long haul will be determined. For now, he is a very stable presence on the hot corner. He does not play with much flash as he relies on his instincts to play quick and aggressive. He tops off his skills with a strong arm that allows him to make all the necessary throws.
9. 1B, Lucas Duda – The big first baseman is an offense-first prospect, but he has made worthwhile steps to improve his defensive abilities. He has a strong arm and is accurate to every base on the field. He has good reactions off the bat and is very quick to his glove side and continues to get better on the backhand. The latter is especially important when on the bag to pick balls out of the dirt. Duda does not often make the diving play, but he is a steady defender who does a good job of keeping the ball in front of him.
8. C, Sean McCraw – McCraw struggled with the bat last season, but he possesses the most sound catching tools of any backstop prospect on the farm. He is quick out of his crouch, moves well laterally and boasts the strongest throwing arm. The combination of those tools plus accuracy makes him very capable of throwing base runners out. Defensively, McCraw has what it takes to move up the ranks but needs to show it with the bat to put the package together.
7. 3B, Eric Campbell – The 2008 8th round pick has adequate range, quick feet, plays on his toes and has one of the stronger arms for a third baseman in the system. He is very steady on the hot corner and his quick reactions and good first step help compensate for his limited coverage to the glove side. He is a fundamentally sound prospect who saw time at other positions, including first base, as a motivation to keep him on the field. While he may have to fight to stick at third base long term, his overall consistency with the glove gives him value.
6. 1B, Ike Davis – Davis could always fall back on his defense as he battled to find his groove at the plate during his rookie season. He has the arm for right field, but more than that he can pick the ball from both sides as well as anyone in the system. His size somewhat hampers his mobility, but he reads the ball off the bat well thanks to his good reactions and quick decision making. Davis' defense still has room to grow, but the amount of attention he pays to it could be determined by his success at the plate.
5. 2B, Hector Pellot – 2007 was Pellot's first season at second base after entering the system as a shortstop and though the move came with its adjustments, he committed only 12 errors in 120 games that season. He uses his very good natural quickness to his advantage and covers a lot of ground particularly to his left. His quick hands and feet make him very smooth around second base as he turns deftly turns on the double play. Speed and defense are the backbone to his game and his glove should be a reliable tool to fall back on when he returns in 2009.
4. SS, Jose Coronado – The system veteran does not have the arm like he did in his earlier days, but he remains one of the steadiest defenders in the entire system. His has excellent range to his left though he covers comparatively less ground to his right. The best part of his defense is the ease in which he charges and releases the ball. He spent the better part of the last two seasons working on his release point which was the cause for some wildness at the lower levels. He must still learn better body control to cut down on his errors to remain a possible bench solution or he runs the risk of being surpassed by the young depth coming up behind him.
3. SS, Ruben Tejada – Tejada, like Coronado, has very quick feet and impresses with his ability to charge and throw on the run. He is also very clean around the second base bag while turning double plays. He has very good range to his right but for now is a bit more limited to his left as he continues to improve his footwork. However, he needs work on his positioning and approach to the ball. Many of his 30 errors last season could have been cut out with better body placement and receiving. Still just 19 years old, as Tejada gains consistency, he should reinforce the projection as a viable back up.
2. SS, Matt Bouchard – Both Bouchard and Tejada have the skills to play shortstop at the big league level, but Bouchard's arm strength and makeup for the position gives him the edge. His strong, compact frame is ideal for a middle infielder and his soft hands, quick feet and plus arm strength give him playmaking ability to both sides. Injuries have prevented his talents from coming through more consistently, but his bat—which projects higher than Tejada—and more mature tools align Bouchard as a possible everyday shortstop at the highest level.
1. 3B, Shawn Bowman – Time away from the field has not diminished Bowman's standing as the best defensive infielder in the organization which is magnified by his role at the hot corner. He has tremendous reactionary skills, an ideal feel for the position, excellent range plus the strongest infield arm in the system. Combine those tools with off-the-charts makeup and Bowman is a genuine leader on the field.
Top Ten Defensive Infielders
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