It’s the third day of our 2023 draft position previews, and fittingly for the No. 3 spot in the lineup, we have reached corner infielders.
The power position of the diamond, both first basemen and third basemen were responsible for the most offensive firepower in MLB in 2022 (not counting designated hitters), with an overall wRC+ of 107 and 102, respectively.
Playing a corner position at the highest level means there’s a lot of pressure on your bat. There’s more competition at third base and first base, given the simple fact that more players are able to play those positions at a league-average or better level, so the offensive bar is raised.
Old school tool profiles for the position continue to hold up. As opposed to all four up-the-middle defensive positions (catcher, shortstop, second base and center field), fielding is not among the top-two most valuable tools for either third base or first base.
What are the top two? Power and hitting.
Put them in whichever order you want, but big league scouts are looking for big league hitters, first and foremost, when scouting the corner infield positions. Being a slick fielder can elevate you from a solid everyday type to an all-star-caliber prospect, but if you’re all glove and no bat at a corner infield position—there are going to be tough days ahead for you.
If middle infield is the sizzle position of baseball, corner infield is the steak.
At the outset of the 2023 season, the corner infield crop for the current draft class looks solid. There are a number of well-rounded first round talents at the top, though with no carrying prospect leading the way, and solid depth throughout the top 100 as well, both on the college and high school sides.
Below is an overview of the 2023 corner infield class as it stands today, with information on current top-100 prospects, other corner infielders to know and a 20-80 grade on the talent of the position relative to an average draft year. We’ll revisit these position previews at the end of the draft cycle and see if our preseason grade holds up or needs adjustment.
Top drafted corner infielders of all time (by bWAR):
- Albert Pujols, 3B, Cardinals (1993, 13th round) — 101.6
- Cal Ripken Jr., 3B, Orioles (1978, 2nd round) — 95.9
- Jeff Bagwell, 3B, Red Sox (1989, 4th round) — 79.9
- Lou Whitaker, 3B, Tigers (1975, 5th round) — 75.1
- Frank Thomas, 1B, White Sox (1989, 1st round) — 73.8
- Scott Rolen, 3B, Phillies (1993, 2nd round) — 70.1
- Manny Ramirez, 3B, Indians (1991, 1st…