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2010 Draft Preview: Scouting Manny Machado

June 6, 2010 BY ALEX EISENBERG 3 Comments

Manny Machado is a lean, athletic, and lanky shortstop who is projected to a top-5 pick in this year’s Major League Baseball draft.

I say lanky now, but his frame suggests he could put on plenty of muscle. The team that selects Machado will be banking on his ability to stay at shortstop, which scouts are currently split on at the moment though the feeling I get is that more lean toward him staying at the position rather than moving off because of his smooth actions and excellent hands.

The wild card is that Machado says he doesn’t lift weights often. So if you can get him on a true workout regimen in order for him to gain size, you have to make sure he’s able to maintain his quickness and athleticism.

For me, the fact that he hasn’t lifted much sort of makes him a more intriguing prospect.

Machado is a quick-twitch athlete in the forearms. He has quick hands as well, allowing him to generate excellent bat speed without much of a loading process. He’s got a pretty simple set up, starting out in a slightly open stance. As he steps up and closes his stance, he simultaneously brings his elbow slightly behind him, creating a significant amount of torque between his torso and hips. As a result, the torso is uncoiled at foot plant and an aggressive rotation of the hips ensues.

Machado keeps his swing short, which should lead to solid contact rates, though much of that depends on other aspects like pitch recognition, approach, and discipline. And that’s the mystery for me as I haven’t found a lot of information on how good his approach is, how advanced his pitch recognition is, and how well he’ll be able to adjust to more advanced pitching at the pro level. Those attributes are typically what contributes most to whether a high school hitting prospect makes it or busts.

Machado keeps the bat head in the hitting zone for a solid length of time and does a good job of finishing his swing with extension at or just after contact.

*Credit to the MLB Scouting Bureau

I do think he could stand to let the ball travel a little deeper into his hitting zone as he often makes contact too far out in front, which can hinder his ability to really drive the ball. There are times Machado struggles to keep his upper body back and he ends up too far on his front side, which results in an inefficient swing, which you can see below:

*Credit to Baseball America

Machado’s swing path is more of a linear one at the moment, suited for line drives, but he does offer a little loft and he does a good job getting back spin on the ball when he waits for the ball to travel to him. Right now, scouts put his power potential in the average – above average range, but with somebody so young, that projection could very well be revised upward as he puts on weight and makes his swing more efficient.

Machado is not a sure fire talent, but he’s very talented and obviously gifted athletically. If he can stay at shortstop, Machado won’t have to be a worldbeater offensively. But if he can do both — put up big numbers offensively, while sticking at shortstop, he could be a special player.

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