The MLB draft is still months away, but the mock drafts are just beginning to trickle in. Baseball America produced its first mock draft (subscription required) of the season, predicting that the SF Giants will be taking an intriguing college shortstop
Baseball America's first mock draft has SF Giants taking college shortstop
Collegiate shortstop Zach Neto is the name tied to the Giants in this draft. He is playing for Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina. The franchise has had a lot of success with drafting players out of North Carolina, and Neto could be the next.
Neto has thrived since joining Campbell University in 2020, but he made a name for himself while playing for the Cape Cod League last summer. Interestingly, the Giants have also had a lot of success with drafting players who performed well in the Cape Cod League.
During the regular season in 2021, the right-handed-hitting middle infielder slashed .405/.488/.746 with 12 home runs, 58 RBI, and 50 runs scored in 213 plate appearances. This included an 8.1 percent walk rate against a 14 percent strikeout rate. He may not be the most disciplined hitter but hitter, but he has demonstrated good bat-to-ball skills against college pitching.
That strong 2021 season carried over into the Cape Cod League where he registered a .304/.439/.587 line with three home runs, 10 RBI, and seven runs scored in 57 plate appearances for the Brewster Whitecaps.
Neto has a high leg kick that he uses as a timing mechanism, and in the at-bats I have observed, he does not get cheated on his swing:
Carlos Collazo of Baseball America believes that he is one of the best shortstops in the class and could be overlooked due in part to the division he plays in:
"I came into this mock feeling a bit ‘meh’ about the college shortstop class, but here we are through 31 picks and we have selected four of them. That would be a better number than each of the last two classes (two each) and just shy of the 2019 class that produced five. Neto’s numbers are insane. We don’t have him ranked too far outside of the first round range at the moment—he’s at No. 37—but you could be right that he’s being underrated given the conference he plays in."- Carlos Collazo
In the field, Neto has the arm and glove to stick at shortstop, but it is a good sign that he has experience around the diamond as well. Giants fans have seen Brandon Crawford stick at shortstop as his only position since 2011, but the next batch of Giants prospects will likely move around the field.
The 21-year-old infielder has the traits to be a versatile player and he has the speed, arm, and athleticism to handle left field, too. That is a conversation for a different day. However, with the Giants picking at No. 31, the hope is that they get an impact player, especially one who can play up the middle.