Let’s remain on the infield as our quest to discover who the Reds will select with the 27th overall pick in the MLB Draft June 6 continues with a visit to Chapel Hill, N.C., where we’ll examine North Carolina SS Levi Michael.
Michael (5-foot-10, 180 pounds) is a switch-hitter from Welcome, N.C. While he’s a better hitter from the right side, his swing is almost identical from either side of the plate. Michael is the top-rated college shortstop in the country and ranks No. 3 overall among draft-eligible players at the position, trailing high schoolers Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez. This is a very thin draft, however, for shortstops, particularly in the college ranks.
Michael, a junior, stands out for his ability to remain at the position, although his versatility is a plus. After graduating from high school a semester early, he won the starting 2B job for the Tar Heels and went 13-57-.290/.377/.527 as a freshman when he stole five bases in nine tries and fielded .949.
As a sophomore, Michael moved to third base where he posted a line of 9-54-.346/.480/.575 with 20 steals in 22 attempts and a .913 fielding percentage. This season, Michael moved to shortstop and has gone 4-45-.317/.398/.492, with 14 steals in 15 attempts and a .968 fielding mark.
Michael has a good eye, walking more than he strikes out. He’s a patient hitter who sprays line drives to all fields. Michael is an above average runner with enough arm to stay at shortstop, although his range might be no better than average.
Michael possesses impressive bat speed and projects as a doubles hitter who draws Brian Roberts comparisons, without the blazing speed. One scout profiles Michael as an offensive-minded 2B, but many others see him remaining at short.
An intelligent guy and member of FCA (shameless plug, thank you), Michael’s sister is the starting 2B for Campbell’s softball team. Michael is confident and displays great baseball knowledge. An ankle injury slowed Michael somewhat this season, but it’s not deemed to be serious.
Baseball America ranks Michael the 22nd-best player available. Mocks have him going anywhere from No. 20 to Colorado to the supplemental round. The Cardinals are thought to have interest, as well, at No. 22.