When Nationals first-round pick Brady House says he wants to continue developing as a shortstop despite being listed at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, he isn’t the first tall and well-built player at the position to try and buck the trend of small, wiry types manning the spot.
The two tallest shortstops in the majors are Carlos Correa (6-foot-4, 220) and Corey Seager (6-foot-4, 215). Both are former first-round picks, All-Stars and World Series champions. House could do far worse looking for company in that discussion. However, the 18-year-old out of Winder-Barrow High School in Georgia is far from a finished product like Correa and Seager.
“There’s a part of me that thinks that he can maybe stay there but he might get too big and end up at third base, where he’s got a chance to potentially win a Gold Glove,” Nationals’ Assistant General Manager and Vice President of Scouting Operations Kris Kline said on a Zoom call after the first round Sunday night.
“I think that he has a chance to stay there but he’s gonna get displaced by a more elite defender at that level.”
House was drafted by the Nationals 11th overall because of his abilities at the plate, particularly as a power hitter. He projects as a potential middle-of-the-order bat capable of launching 30 to 40 home runs per year. If he fills out as expected to develop the strength needed to be such a hitter in the major leagues, House will face a challenge trying to maintain the same mobility and quickness required to play shortstop at the highest level.
It’s a challenge House acknowledges — and embraces.
“That’s what I work towards every day is just beating everyone out at short and just proving that I can stay at short because that’s where I feel comfortable, that’s where my bread and butter is,” House said Sunday. “I feel like I can stay at short for sure if I keep up the work there.”
When asked who he compares himself to, House pointed to Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story (6-foot-2, 213). Story has two 30-homer seasons to his name and still plays strong defense at the position. Though a little bit shorter than House, Story has established himself as one of the best power-hitting shortstops in baseball and even earned an invite to the Home Run Derby this year.
Kline didn’t rule out the possibility of House sticking at shortstop, but the Nationals’ system already has a few prospects at the position who could stand in his way. Putting their current starter Trea Turner aside, House would have to beat out players such as Armando Cruz — regarded as the best defensive player in the 2020-21 international signing period — and Sammy Infante, a second-round pick of the Nationals from a year ago.
“He moves different,” Kline said. “He moves very graceful for a guy his size and he’s got really good flexibility to his lower half, catches everything, it’s smooth, it’s fluid and then he’s got that — on our 20-80 scale with 50 being average — he’s got that 70 arm where he makes up for it if he needs it.
“For big guys like that, that maybe aren’t as blessed with as much range as a stereotypical middle infielder, he will have to learn the hitters, know where to play guys, be smart about where he positions himself to create an advantage for himself.”