Colby Halter, a prep left-handed hitter from Bishop Kenny High School in Florida, excelled on the showcase circuit last summer.
He hit .333 in the inaugural PDP League and then .419 with USA Baseball’s 18-and-under national team. His success at the plate caused professional scouts to take notice. It also gave Halter confidence moving forward into his final season of high school baseball this spring.
The PDP League is a three-week, invite-only developmental event put on by MLB and USA Baseball at IMG Academy in Florida. The event featured 80 of the top prep players in the country. It allowed the players to compete in a high-level environment that resembles the pro ranks while receiving instructions from former pro players.
Halter left the event “a completely different player,” and he also appreciated the time he had to learn from Hall of Fame third baseman Chipper Jones, he said.
“It was like a dream come true,” Halter said. “He has been my favorite player since I was little. He actually went to our rival high school, The Bolles School. It was pretty funny because we got to trash talk to each other back and forth. He was awesome. He was very personable. We got to talk a couple of days in a row, which was pretty sweet.
“I read his biography a couple of years ago and talked to him about how he mentioned using a heavier bat in batting practice and trying to drop the head of the bat on the ball to hit line drives not over the center field fence but through it. That stuck with me. I told him I was using a bigger bat in BP because of him.”
Halter’s intangibles on a baseball field and success last summer have caused pro scouts to consider him as a potential early-round pick in June’s MLB draft. Halter could hear his name called as early as the second or third round.
Besides likely having the option to start a pro career this summer, Halter also is a University of Florida commit, giving him two viable paths for the next step in his baseball career.
“I’ve tried to take every day as it comes and enjoy the normalcy,” Halter said. “I wish I could’ve had senior night and be around my teammates and play at Bishop Kenny because it really has been a great time. I feel like both opportunities are like hitting the jackpot, so I can’t go wrong.”
Halter is a well-rounded player who is known for his ability at the plate, especially against high-end pitching. He has a quick, compact swing that allows him to consistently barrel up pitches and drive the ball to all parts of the field.
“My bat is my biggest strength,” Halter said. “I think my ability to hit. I’ve hit my whole life. I try to be a pure hitter and use the whole field and drive the ball into the gaps. That’s a big strength of mine.”
He doesn’t possess major power right now but has the potential to grow into that as he matures. The 6-foot-1, 208-pound left-handed hitter has dedicated time this spring to adding muscle to his frame and believes it’s only a matter of time until he reaches his power potential.
“I want to start tapping into my power a little more,” Halter said. “I’ve always heard it is best to be a hitter first and your power will come. I saw that early on in the spring, as I definitely had more power than before.”
Besides Halter’s feel for hitting, another trait pro scouts enjoy about him is his versatility defensively. Halter played shortstop for his high school team but moved around the diamond last summer, spending time at first base, second base, third base and in the outfield.
Halter has above-average arm strength that profiles well for the left side of the infield, especially third base if he doesn’t stick at shortstop long term.
“I’d love to stay at shortstop as long as I can,” Halter said. “I think I can stick at shortstop. I’ve been working a ton in the infield. Anywhere in the infield, I think I can play for sure. I have the arm to stay at shortstop and for third and have been learning how to play second. But I see myself stay at shortstop long term.”
If Halter doesn’t turn pro this summer, he will attend Florida in the fall. He verbally committed to Florida as a freshman in October 2016 before he even played a high school baseball game. His passion for the program and his comfort with the coaching staff is what led him to commit to the Gators, he said.
“I’ve been a Gator fan my entire life, and it just seemed like a great fit with the coaching staff,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to be a Gator. It was a perfect fit. Once I got the offer, I knew that’s where I wanted to go.”
Read more stories on top 2020 MLB draft prospects here.
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for five years. He’s interviewed 191 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.