Cole Foster is in a familiar position. Three years after garnering MLB draft interest as a well-regarded prep shortstop from Texas, the Auburn junior shortstop is once again a draft prospect.
As a prep player, Foster went unselected in the shortened 2020 draft. It allowed him to attend Auburn, where he went from hardly playing his freshman season to a key piece on highly-competitive teams the last two years. Playing in college was a learning experience for Foster and allowed him to refine his skills into a more advanced player.
Due to his development, Foster is in a position to hear his name called in this year’s draft, which begins July 9. Scouts project the Auburn shortstop as a likely top-three-round pick.
“Out of high school, it was cool to be the 18-year-old kid who has a chance to go to pro ball,” Foster said. “It ended up not working out for me, and I chose to go to college. It has been the best three years of my life. I have let the process play out the last three years, and to have the opportunity again, I’m just excited for these next few weeks.”
Foster played in 15 games and had 29 plate appearances as a freshman in 2021. He earned the starting second base job as a sophomore last year. He posted a .267 batting average with 11 doubles, nine home runs and 47 RBI in 216 plate appearances.
Leading up to his junior season, Foster worked with Auburn assistant coach Gabe Gross, an Auburn alum and seven-year MLB player, on developing a routine and consistency at the plate.
His offseason work allowed him to experience more success this spring. He batted .336 with 13 doubles, 13 home runs and 49 RBIs to play a key role in Auburn making the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year.
“I owe everything to this place,” Foster said. “The staff and teammates I have had the last three years have been the biggest part of my baseball career. They have had the largest impact on my life, really.”
Foster is a 6-foot-1, 193-pound switch-hitting shortstop with a notable feel on both sides of the plate. He showed more potential from the left side this spring. But regardless of the side, Foster consistently drove the ball into the gaps and used all parts of the field. He also showed improvement in his approach.
Defensively, Foster has the tools to play multiple positions in pro ball. He is a quality defender at shortstop, making the necessary plays and showing average range and quality arm strength. He will likely have the chance to prove himself as a shortstop in pro ball but ultimately profiles best at second base.
“My baseball IQ is a strength,” Foster said. “I feel I know the game and play it the right way. The knowledge I have had my entire life helps me and sets me apart. The maturity growth also helps me stand out a lot more.”
Since Auburn’s season ended, Foster has dedicated time to the weight room and refining his offensive skills. He appreciates his time at Auburn and believes it has helped him be better positioned to embark on a pro career.
“I just want to work on the consistency part of it,” Foster said. “The grind of playing every day will be a challenge. But once you find something that works, you get a chance every day to try it out. So, I am looking forward to playing every day.”
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Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for eight years. He has interviewed 433 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com, The Arizona Republic and The Dallas Morning News, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.