The 2021 MLB Draft will begin on July 11, 2021. We take a look at Jack Penney, a prep shortstop who swings a hot bat from the left side of the plate.
Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Draft Profiles.
Jack Penney, Shortstop, Phillips Andover (Mass.)
Weight: 190 lbs.
2018: 21G, .400/.471/.433, 12 H, 7 RBI, 0 HR, 4 BB, 4 K
2019: 16G, .368/.471/.579, 21 H, 10 RBI, 0 HR, 9 BB, 5 K
2021: 14G, .405/.583/.619, 17 H, 6 RBI, 0 HR, 15 BB, 9 K
Penney is a talented hitter who saw himself draw a lot of walks a lot in his final season at Phillips Andover due to other teams respecting his impressive bat. He’s also solid in the field and has a decent throwing arm, though he likely projects at second base long term.
Hitting is Penney’s best trait, and he does it quite well. He has a smooth swing from the left side of the plate that features the perfect blend of aggressiveness and ease. Penney has great pitch recognition and is able to find the ball and connect with his bat, blasting the baseball to all parts of the field. He produced seven triples over 30 games in his final two prep seasons, demonstrating just how much he can spray the baseball away from opposing outfielders.
Penney is also a talented fielder who plays with control and poise. He has soft hands and is capable of getting the ball from his glove to hand very nicely. He fires on to first base with decent velocity (topped out at 84 mph in 2019) and accuracy.
Power is Penney’s biggest weakness. He might grow into some power, but he’ll never be able to produce anything near average pop. Specifically, his farthest hit at the New England Committed Combine in 2020 went 340 feet. He also hit zero home runs through three seasons at Andover.
Penney is right around average (or slightly below) in terms of speed and running ability, which could be one of the biggest restrictions in terms of his fielding projections. He ran a 7.23 60 in 2019 and a 6.94 60 in 2020. He has demonstrated enough speed to produce seven triples over two prep seasons, but he doesn’t quite have the range needed to be a top shortstop. As such, a future at second base seems much more likely for Penney.
Pro Comparison: Willi Castro
There are several similarities between Castro and Penney. For starters, both hit from the left side of the plate (though Castro is a switch-hitter) and throw right-handed. Castro spends most of his time at second base but also takes reps at shortstop, and while he is 20 pounds lighter, they are both the same height. Castro isn’t a power machine, either, but he’s produced two triples this year (second-most among shortstops). He’s a modest runner and solid fielder with a decent arm, too.
Draft Projection: Late-Round Pick
If any team uses a draft pick on Penney, it will be a late-round selection. The biggest thing that scouts will see when they look at Penney is his room for development, and he can become a better player if he honors his commitment to Notre Dame. By going to college, he can grow into some power, perhaps gain some speed, and find a definite home in the middle infield (whether that be carving out a role at shortstop or moving to second base). As such, he might go in the final portion of the draft, but more likely than not, he’ll choose not to sign and instead attend Notre Dame.