University of Miami shortstop Freddy Zamora’s abilities on both sides of the ball will propel him to a higher position in the 2020 MLB Draft
The Tiger’s lack of position talent within their system has been well-documented, particularly in the infield. Detroit and GM Al Avila have heard the noise and started to address those needs in 2019 draft, where the club selected position players with 8 of their first 10 picks in the draft, including advanced prep hitter Riley Greene with the fifth overall selection. Detroit will have an opportunity to continue to address those needs with lower-risk, high-floor college talent with players like University of Miami shortstop Freddy Zamora.
Zamora, undrafted out of high school, would stay in his Miami hometown to attend “The U.” His college career has been impressive, slashing .300/.391/.429 over his first two seasons before a knee injury would engulf the shortened 2020 year. As a freshman, Zamora led his team in games played and he would essentially duplicate his offensive success his sophomore season.
Ironically, much of what makes a prospect a good hitter is what happens independent from hitting the ball. The ability to control the count, foul off tough pitches, lay off bad pitches, and take walks are all strengths of Zamora that Detroit has seemed to undervalue, evidenced by their lack of ability in these areas within their system. Zamora has walked 55 times over his 104-game college career and posted on-base numbers of nearly .400 both seasons as well. If Zamora can hold his approach while continuing to develop his power at age 21, there is a lot to like, especially coming at a premium defensive position like shortstop.
Aside from Arizona State’s Alika Williams, Zamora would be in the conversation for the best defensive shortstop in the college ranks. His soft hands and speed translates well on the field, which should allow him to stick at the position. His range is solid at the position and his throwing arm is reliable; proving he has the tools to excel at the position.
Stealing bases is also a part of Zamora’s game; as he would post 33 steals in 40 attempts; good for a 82.5% success rate. Although stealing bases are becoming more of a novelty in today’s game, Zamora’s ability to take extra bases and stretch gap singles into doubles will prove to show value to interested teams.
Health is certainly a concern for Zamora; he lost his would-be Junior season with a knee injury in the preseason and would be drafted without being able to play right away. This makes the shortstop’s medicals absolutely vital and if he slips on draft day, it might reflect teams’ hesitation about his knee. Because speed is a part of his profile, a return at less than full strength might suggest a struggle to reach his potential but there has not been any public worry about him rehabbing effectively.
Defensively, although he possesses the tools to be an above average defender, Zamora has displayed some lack of focus with easier plays. He’s committed 39 errors en route to a career .907 fielding percentage. His ability to make more difficult plays indicates that, with repetition and professional coaching, it might be a relatively easy fix.
On the other side of the ball, he will need to continue to display and develop his power in order to reach his developmental zenith. Light-hitting shortstops are abound in Detroit’s system, so a player with double-digit home run potential while taking walks would be a welcomed sight and might get him into a hitter-friendly setting like Double-A Erie in short order.
Opinions vary on whether he can eventually tap into a little more power, and understandably so. It’s hard to tell wafter losing out on what should have been another four months of viewings. His one home run in 2018 became six in 2019, including a walkoff win. On the other hand, his triples dropped from four to zero. This suggests the quality of his power did improve year to year, but not necessarily the frequency of it.
There have been recent rumors floating around that there will be a run on college shortstops near the end of the first round, so there is a very real chance that Zamora doesn’t make it to Detroit at the 38th pick. On the other hand, the most recent Prospects 365 Mock Draft does not project Zamora to go in the first round. If he is there in the second round, the team will almost certainly be interested – he’s one of four players with whom the team is reported to have discussed financial details. As stated above, medicals will be a big part of where Zamora goes considering his knee; when healthy he is a first round talent. FanGraphs’ THE BOARD ranks Zamora 32nd among draft prospects, suggesting a pick at 38 might be a value to the Tigers.