We’re coming into the home-stretch, and with less than a week before the Diamondbacks are finally forced to call a name, it’s time to start examining the cases for those players who have legitimate cases for the top overall selection.
We’ll be profiling our top 10 prospects: SS Brendan Rodgers, SS Dansby Swanson, RHP Phil Bickford, SS Alex Bregman, RHP Donny Everett, RHP Dillon Tate, LHP Tyler Jay, OF Kyle Tucker, RHP Jon Harris and OF Ian Happ.
Now, let’s move on to Swanson.
Let’s get some facts out of the way first.
Name: Dansby Swanson
School: Vanderbilt University
Previously Drafted: Drafted in 38th Round in 2012
It’s almost disgusting how much Swanson appears to have improved over each of his three seasons at Vanderbilt
The native Georgian set foot on campus as a lithe, versatile athlete who had no position to call home. He’ll leave campus as a physical specimen oozing with talent, and with the prospect of having found a home defensively. Oh yeah…and he might be the first player drafted in the 2015 draft.
After putting a shoulder injury behind him, one that robbed him of nearly all of his freshman campaign, Swanson returned to the lineup and became an offensive force in 2014. He did a little bit of everything, hitting doubles, legging out triples, swiping a fair amount of bases and most important, getting on base. He led the Commodores to a 51-21 record, and was the linchpin in the squad’s run through the NCAA tournament, one that ended with Vandy hoisting the school’s first ever College World Series championship trophy.
For his performance, Swanson was tabbed as the Most Outstanding Player, one of many honors he would win during his sophomore campaign, including spots on multiple All-American teams and first-team honors on the All-SEC squad.
Defensively, he called second base home, and proved to be an above-average defender, making sensational plays with ease.
He entered his junior season as one of the top shortstop prospects in the 2015 draft class, despite having never played an entire game at the position. The coaching staff seemed to have faith in him, however, with coach Tim Corbin saying of him,”Dansby is a rare talent… he affects the game in so many different ways, whether it’s physically on the field or in the clubhouse. Plain and simple, he’s a winning baseball player. There isn’t much he can’t do well.”
True to that quote, there wasn’t much Dansby didn’t do well in 2015.
He led the Commodores in nearly every offensive category, including hits, runs, doubles, triples, home runs and walks.
The real spot that Swanson made an impression, however, was on defense. Playing shortstop for the first time, he proved he could make all the throws necessary, and true to his nature, the extraordinary plays as well.
His hot bat carried over into regional play, where he won a game with a late-inning home run. And after a 21-0 rout of Radford that advanced them into the next round of play, Swanson was named MVP of the regionals.
As Vanderbilt prepares for their super-regional matchup with Illinois, all eyes will be on Swanson. Not to make sure he keeps up his stellar play. That’s a given. Rather, everyone will be waiting for the next amazing play.
The Case for Swanson as the #1 Pick
The argument for Swanson rests on the belief that he is a hybrid between Alex Bregman, the top hitting shortstop in this class, and Brendan Rodgers, the top defensive shortstop in this class. This case assumes he will continue to offer above-average defense at the shortstop position. If he does that, the sky is the limit. If he’s moved off of shortstop, in an effort to speed his rise to the big-leagues perhaps, he won’t be nearly as valuable a commodity.
In the end, any player that has the tools that Swanson offers at the plate deserves to be looked at as a top-five pick, and when factoring in his defense, it seems like a pretty easy call that Swanson should be the first player off the board.