Nazzan Zanetello broke out on the showcase circuit in 2022 to position himself as one of the best players in the 2023 prep class. His surge as a prospect started at the Breakthrough Series in June in Florida when he earned the event’s MVP award.
His performance in the event carried over into the rest of the showcase circuit. He had noteworthy performances at the World Wood Bat Association World Championship and the Team USA 18-and-under World Cup qualifying tournament. The Christian Brothers College (Mo.) High School shortstop consistently showed his five-tool potential and strong makeup in 2022.
“It was just the consistent reps that I had led to me having the success I had at that event,” said Zanetello on the Breakthrough Series. “Getting in that pipeline, surrounding myself with those guys, and just performing well helped me for the rest of the summer.”
Zanetello’s performance on the showcase circuit and overall potential intrigue scouts. It also has caused him to move up MLB draft boards. Scouts consider Zanetello as a likely early-round pick in July’s draft.
“Right now, it is a little tougher with balancing school and baseball,” Zanetello said. “I’m just taking it one day at a time. You can’t really predict what is going to happen with the draft. Whatever happens this summer, happens this summer.”
Zanetello is a 6-foot-2, 185-pound shortstop with a well-balanced toolset. He is a right-handed hitter with a quick swing and gap-to-gap power. He makes consistent and hard contact against premium pitching and has quality strike-zone awareness.
Zanetello credits his development offensively to Craig Ringe, who played professional baseball and coached at the NCAA Division I level. He has worked with Ringe for over a year. Ringe has boosted Zanetello’s confidence and improved his approach and timing at the plate.
“In years past, the glove and speed have always been there,” Zanetello said. “That is something I have been known for is just a speed guy who is the best athlete on the field. This summer, I focused on increasing my baseball IQ and being better known as a baseball player and not just an athlete. That increased because I improved my hit tool.”
Defensively, Zanetello has the athleticism and above-average arm strength to make all the plays at shortstop. Scouts believe he can handle the position long-term. But if he moves off of shortstop, he has the skill set to play third base and center field.
“I feel like I can stick at shortstop because of my baseball IQ, range, athleticism, arm, durability and glove work,” Zanetello said. “The one thing I need to work on to stick at shortstop long term is my footwork.”
This offseason, Zanetello has dedicated time to refining his craft. He also lifts six days a week to add strength to his frame. This spring, he wants to attack pitches earlier in the count and improve his baserunning.
“The best way to not strike out is to not get to two strikes,” Zanetello said. “I want to attack my pitch early in the count.”
Zanetello originally verbally committed to Miami at 14 years old. Miami was one of the first schools to offer Zanetello as a high school freshman. After the years went on and he thought more about his decision, Zanetello reopened his recruitment process in search of a new opportunity in February 2022.
He committed to Arkansas in October. Arkansas is one of the premier programs in college baseball, with a track record of winning and player development. It also has a passionate fanbase that led the NCAA in baseball attendance in 2022.
“The coaching staff stood out to me,” Zanetello said. “Being around the other recruits this summer was great. They are all guys I consider friends and have played with and against. All of them only had good things to say about Arkansas.”
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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.