Name: Michael Paez
Born: Miami, Florida
Age: 21 (12/8/95)
Height/Weight: 5'7"/165 lbs
School: Coastal Carolina University (Conway, South Carolina)
Though a standout at Miami Sunset Senior High School, Michael Paez went undrafted by Major League Baseball teams as a high school senior in 2013, and to add insult to injury, he was not even able to get scholarships to attend the University of Miami or Florida International University thanks to his diminutive size. He left Florida and traveled north with a chip on his shoulder to attend Coastal Carolina University. There, the undersized 5'7", 170-pound infielder excelled, blooming not only into one of the best players on the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, but blooming into one of the better hitters in the entire NCAA Big South conference. In perhaps the ultimate revenge against every team that passed him over and every school that he applied to that failed to give him an athletic scholarship, Paez hit a walk-off double down the left-field line to score the winning run over the LSU Tigers to send the Chanticleers to the College World Series.
In his first season at Coastal Carolina, Paez was a forgettable hitter, batting .245/.351/.314. As a sophomore, the shortstop hit .326/.436/.526, and as a junior this past spring hit .287/.377/.540. He credits a better nutrition regimen and a re-tooled swing for his turnaround. He stands at the plate with an open stance and uses a big leg kick. Prior to re-tooling his swing, Paez stood somewhat closed and much more erect at the plate, with a leg kick was much less noticeable.
The shortstop put up impressive offensive numbers this past spring, slugging 15 home runs in 240 at-bats, but it is important to keep in mind that those numbers came in one of the more hitter-friendly ballparks in the conference, Springs Brooks Stadium. The impressive home run total—31st in the entire NCAA and 2nd among all collegiate shortstops—may have actually hurt Paez, as he became swing-happy as the season went on, over-swinging and disregarding his usual strategies at the plate in an attempt to hit more home runs. His batting average dropped, his strikeout rate spiked, his walk rate dipped, and he ceased stealing bases. Paez may be more effective hitting doubles into the gaps rather than swinging for the fences.
Defensively, scouts are split as to whether or not the former Chanticleer will have to shift over from shortstop to second base as his professional career progresses. The Mets themselves feel that Paez will be able to stay at the position. He shows good range, thanks to his plus speed, and is a steady defender, but his arm may not be strong enough to play effectively at higher levels.