The University of Tennessee may have another position player drafted in the top three rounds this year. That would make it three straight drafts, and that player is Max Ferguson. The Volunteers’ second baseman is a solid prospect and does just about everything well. Let’s take a look at where he might end up in July.
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Max Ferguson, 2B/OF, Tennessee
Weight: 180 lbs.
2019: 34 G – .231/.390/.269, 0 HRs, 4 SBs
2020: 13 G – .333/.462/.524, 2 HRs, 9 SBs
2021: 50 G – .268/.407/.481, 9 HRs, 14 SBs
As you can see from the stats above, Max Ferguson didn’t start his college career off very well. Since then, he has gained confidence, especially at the plate, and added to his power to go along with his already discerning eye. Scouts are all over the map on this kid. MLB.com doesn’t have him in their top 150. Fangraphs has him at #13 and Prospectlive.com has him at #90. Let’s break down his game a little further and see what we come up with.
While Ferguson is not a .300 hitter like a former Volunteer he has been compared to (Nick Senzel), he does have an excellent eye. He has walked at a solid 17.2 percent clip in college and strikes out just under 20 percent of the time. His setup and mechanics are very quiet pre-swing and he loads up well letting the ball come to him. The Tennessee second baseman drives the ball well from gap to gap when he sees a pitch he likes. Ferguson runs very well and has the aggressiveness and baseball IQ to take extra bases as well as steal them.
Defensively, Ferguson has quick feet and soft hands. He moves very well to his right and left and is excellent at charging the ball. The 21-year-old has only played three games in centerfield for Tennessee, but scouts believe he could be above average there due to his speed and instincts. Second base is where Ferguson is best suited and he could be a Gold-Glove-caliber player at the keystone.
While his arm plays fine at second, it keeps him from moving to the other side of the infield. Even in the outfield, it may play as only average as his throws are accurate but lack the zip necessary to gun guys out all over the basepaths. Ferguson’s power is average at this point. However, he barrels the ball well and he may be able to tap into that pop with a little more loft in his swing.
Pro Comparison: Cesar Hernandez
Ferguson’s game is a lot like Hernandez’s, especially when the latter was in Philadelphia. From 2016-2019, he averaged 11 HRs and 15 SBs with a .357 OBP. While I think Ferguson is a bit faster and probably a better fielder from day one, this is around where the 21-year-old’s floor is as far as power and on-base skills.
Draft Projection: Round 3, Pick 74, Detroit Tigers
With their fourth pick in the draft, the Tigers take the Tennessee second baseman. They already took the ultra-athletic outfielder Malakhi Knight with their second pick at #32. While mixing in a couple of pitchers at #3 and #39, Detroit grabs the versatile Ferguson. He fits in since the top up-the-middle prospect that the Tigers have in their system currently sits at #13. That is international signing Cristian Santana who is only 17 years old. Ferguson could be up in a couple of years and could give Detroit a boost to their rebuild.
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