For a system that is starved for middle infield prospects, you would have thought that the White Sox would have grabbed a middle infielder before round seven, but they didn't. Tyler Saladino, however, does offer intriguing upside for a seventh round draft pick.
Saladino was something of a late bloomer having not been much of a draft prospect coming out of University City HS (CA) in 2007, when he went undrafted. His baseball prospects rose dramatically after two years at Palomar Junior College (CA), to the point where the Houston Astros decided to take a shot on him in the 36th round of last year's draft. He didn't sign however, instead opting to attend Oral Roberts.
This year at Oral Roberts, Tyler Saladino exploded, hitting .381/.472/.678 with 17 home runs, 16 doubles and 16 stolen bases. He had a little trouble with strikeouts, whiffing in 17.7% of his plate appearances, but aside from that his numbers were very strong. This raised his expected draft position from late round flier, like he had been the previous season, to possible early round selection with a chance of being drafted inside the first 5 rounds.
Scouting reports on Saladino are also strong. He's slightly undersized at 6'0" 185 lbs, but he is considered a very good defensive shortstop, with plus range, good hands and an above average arm. Saladino's offensive potential is not considered as promising as his defensive potential, but he does still have a solid swing. He hits the ball to all fields and displays good doubles power, although he may not be a big home run threat. He also has good speed and is capable of swiping his fair share of bases.
The White Sox system desperately needed a good middle infield prospect or two as the offensively deficient Eduardo Escobar currently ranks as the teams top SS prospect. Tyler Saladino has the potential to become a starting shortstop at the Major League level with a plus glove and an average to above above average bat. In order to reach his potential Tyler will need to start putting the ball into play more consistently, but even if he can't do this, his defensive ability could be enough to carry him to the Major Leagues as a utility infielder.