This article continues my series where I highlight the prospects at each position in baseball.
This piece deals with shortstops.
Many in baseball feel the position is scarce. Perhaps it's because they don't have one of the bright stars that highlight the group on their own club. In my opinion, however, shortstop is one of the deepest and richest positions for the future.
I believe we will see a tremendous influx of talented defense shortstops with an ability to hit for average and power. They are not cut out of the same cloth. They each bring a different skill set to the table.
Many clubs are placing a much higher premium on good hitting shortstops than ever before. In the past, defense at shortstop was the first tool required. Now, hitting is crucial. Teams do not want to give away outs - especially with power diminishing in the game. If a player can't hit - his shelf life may be limited. There are exceptions. Brendan Ryan is one...for now.
Of particular interest to me is the dynamic trio of shortstops from Curacao. Consider that Andrelton Simmons, Jurickson Profar and Didi Gregorius all come from Curacao. They are each amazing. In my opinion, each will be the standard by which shortstops will be judged going forward. Jonathan Schoop is also from Curacao. He plays shortstop and second base, but he isn't in a class with the other three.
The list of shortstop prospects is lengthy. Of course, there are those I forget. As usual, you will be quick to remind me of them.
Jean Segura - Brewers
If you've been reading my work in the past, you'll know that I gushed about Segura when I saw him playing for the Angels. What a mistake they made. He can hit, hit for power, run and play defense. The Angels underrated him. but we didn't. I don't think he can keep up this offensive pace, but he'll come close. Take him and keep him. He is not a fluke.
Didi Gregorius - Diamondbacks
He's going to be the everyday shortstop for the Diamondbacks for years to come. I wrote about him when I first saw him in the Arizona Fall League. At that time I said his defense is outstanding, his arm strength amazing and his range exceptional. I also said his bat will play. It's playing already. He will continue to get better and better. Right now, I think he can easily be in the same conversation with Jurickson Profar.
Francisco Lindor - Indians
Lindor is going to fly through the organization and allow them to trade Asdrubal Cabrera for pitching if they can. Lindor is an offensive threat while being a very good defensive shortstop. He will hit with power and more will develop, and he can be counted upon for his batting average and speed going forward. He's probably two seasons away, but he's a keeper.
Javier Baez - Cubs
Baez has amazing power, but he's still learning how to hit quality pitching. He's struggling a bit with a .237 average in High-A ball. Baez has six home runs already in only 147 plate appearances. He will be counted upon for power the future. Like Lindor, he is still at least two seasons away. He has to learn how to hit breaking balls and gain more plate discipline. He's a work in progress.
Jurickson Profar - Rangers
I want to be very clear when I say I think Profar is a very good player. However, I think awarding him superstar status is a bit premature. I think he's good. Not great. He can hit, hit for power, run and play good defense. He has the total package and should be an All-Star. He's now hitting .242 in Triple-A and his appointment to walk on water may be delayed. I said at the time I think the club made a mistake by not trading him for Justin Upton, if indeed that offer was on the table. He's the real deal, but he isn't All That. Yet.
Xander Bogaerts - Red Sox
There was a reason the Red Sox nabbed Stephen Drew for a short-term contract. His name is Xander Bogaerts. Not Jose Iglesias. Bogaerts doesn't get enough publicity. At least not on the West Coast, where I live. This guy can hit and hit with power. I target him whenever I can in keeper leagues. Why? The Green Monster has his name written all over it. Now in Double-A he is hitting .296/2/14 with four doubles, four triples and three stolen bases without being caught. He's right up there for me. I think he's on the club at some point next year.
Carlos Correa - Astros
There are two issues with this amazing 18-year old. First, he's already 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds. He's still growing and he may grow out of the shortstop position. I project he'll be playing third base before he makes it to Houston. My second problem is that he plays for the Astros. I worry about that, but this guy is legit. He is worthy of his status as their 2012 No. 1 draft choice. He's in Low-A where he's hitting only .238 but he has three homers and three doubles among his 20 hits. For most clubs, he'd be several years away. The Astros aren't most clubs. It seems they hold prospect auditions at the big league level. Weekly. And weakly.
Nick Franklin - Mariners
Yes, I know. I listed him as a second baseman last week. I think he'll be playing both positions. I really like Franklin and I think he'll have an impact bat. They need him in Seattle. Now.
The Next Level
Jonathan Schoop - Orioles
I listed Schoop as a second baseman last week, but he also plays lots of shortstop for the Orioles at Triple-A Norfolk. Eventually, he will hit. He's still figuring out the breaking balls he's seeing. For me, he'll fit best at third base if he can show some power in the future. He profiles and projects higher as a second baseman, and lower as a third baseman based upon his current hitting prowess. Shortstop? I don't think so, but we'll see.
Addison Russell - Athletics
Like Correa, he, too, was a 2012 first rounder. He played in two short-season leagues and a Low-A in 2012. Russell hit a composite .369 for the three teams over 244 plate appearances. This year he is already in High-A, hitting .171 with three homers, three triples, five doubles and 11 RBI. What does that tell us? It tells me the Athletics are desperate for a quality shortstop and he's the guy. As soon as he can walk, chew gum and hit a curveball in that order. I see him as the A's shortstop in no more than two years from now. If not sooner.
Alen Hanson - Pirates
The shortstop of the future in Pittsburgh is making progress in the team's system. He has already played three seasons and is currently at High-A Bradenton, where he's hitting .257 with 10 stolen bases in 16 chances. He's got speed, but little power. At age 20, the Dominican shortstop will be counted upon to bring a bat and glove to the Pirates two seasons from now.
Hak-Ju Lee - Rays
I was in the press box at Durham when Lee's knee was torn up on a freak play at second base. He is out for the year. It's a shame because he was making progress by refining his bunting and hitting up the middle. He's a year further away now. I don't think he'll ever be an impact hitter, but he'll provide some average hitting ability as a fantasy selection. His speed may have taken a hit with the knee damage.
Deven Marrero - Red Sox
Marrero is another Red Sox shortstop with some hitting ability. He played college ball at Arizona State and he was selected late in the first round of the 2012 draft. He is hitting .291 for High-A Salem. He has no homers and has stolen five bases without being caught. He may have a future in Boston as a utility infielder, but more likely he has a future as a trade piece.
Chris Owings - Diamondbacks
It's a real shame that Didi Gregorius is blocking Chris Owings at shortstop for let's say…….forever. Owings is a darned good player. I think he'll get more and more minor league time at second base, which is where he'll have to play if he sticks with Arizona. Or become a utility infielder. Owings is currently hitting a robust .343 at hitter-friendly Reno. However, he's only played 10 of his 39 games at second base, and he's already made seven errors this season at shortstop. I like his bat and I like the way he plays. I hope for his sake he gets traded.
Only 18, this young man can play shortstop very well. He raised lots of eyebrows (including mine) hitting .355 in 188 plate appearances in the Arizona Rookie League last season. He isn't hitting yet at Low-A, but he will. He's a complete player.
Nick Ahmed - Diamondbacks
Ahmed came in the Justin Upton deal. He was heavily scouted in the Arizona Fall League and his outstanding hitting paid off. Having no chance at shortstop for Atlanta, he probably has no chance at shortstop for Arizona. But that's exactly where he's playing at Double-A Mobile. With a smattering of opportunities at second base as well. He is hitting only .162 and is off to a bad start with his new organization. He's a better hitter than that average indicates.
Jose Peraza - Braves
Buried behind Andrelton Simmons in Atlanta, Peraza is playing shortstop at Low-A Rome. He is stealing bases (nine in 12 attempts) and hitting .243. He won't have much of a chance for any role with the Braves other than as a utility player.
Trevor Story - Rockies
Story is playing both shortstop and third base at High-A Modesto. He's hitting only .180 with one home run. He is supposed to have some power in his bat, as he did hit 18 homers last season at Low-A Asheville. He just hasn't shown it yet this season.
Eugenio Suarez - Tigers
Suarez is probably the Tigers' highest rated prospect shortstop. From Venezuela, the 21-year-old is hitting a respectable .262 with little power at Double-A Erie. He's on a relatively fast track and he should be able to play for Detroit with one more season of refinement.
Nolan Fontana - Astros
Fontana is off to a sizzling start for Lancaster in High-A. He's hitting .326 and he has three homers, seven doubles and three triples while stealing seven bases in the California League. Be careful. That is a hitter's league, but he has to be getting the attention of the Astros brass. And us.
Jonathan Villar - Astros
Villar is the most advanced of the Astros' crop of shortstops. Currently at Triple-A Oklahoma City, he is gaining more and more attention with his .308 batting average and 13 stolen bases. If you want to target an Astros shortstop for immediate help, he's the guy. He has a bit of pop in his bat, good speed and a good contact rate. I don't think it will be long before the Astros give him a look.
Adalberto Mondesi - Royals
The son of Raul Mondesi gathers lots of buzz whenever his name is mentioned. He has a tremendous future. He's very young and raw at age 17, but he has all the tools. He's a very, very long-term hold. I just had to mention him so you'd know that I know what I'm talking about. Don't draft him in anything but a long-term keeper league.
Orlando Calixte - Royals
He's off to a tough start at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. The pitching in the league is pretty tough, and he's scuffling. The Royals do like him, and he's moved along nicely in the system. He has little to no power and speed.
Corey Seager - Dodgers
Kyle Seager's younger brother may well be the Dodgers' shortstop of the future. He's only 19, but he's gaining attention. Playing at Great Lakes in the Class-A Midwest League, Seager is hitting .267 with three homers and two doubles in addition to his two triples so far. He's also stolen five bases. He has a few years of development left but he's on the radar screen.
Adeiny Hechavarria - Marlins
I was shocked when the Blue Jays included Hechavarria in the deal with the Marlins. But then again, they were getting Jose Reyes in return. Hechavarria is a good defender with a soft bat. In fact, he's hitting only .179 for the Marlins. Don't look to him for fantasy help. At least not yet. He is an NL-only roster filler, at best.
Danny Santana - Twins
He has been playing all over for the Twins organization. Most recently, he's been at shortstop this season. But he's also played in the outfield and at second base. He can hit. He can hit with a bit of gap power and he can run a bit. His best offensive tool will be his batting average ability. Currently, he's hitting .278 at Double-A New Britain.
Roman Quinn - Phillies
Quinn is currently playing in Low-A at Lakewood and hitting only .237. He does have some pop in his bat and scouts like his upside. He is a former No. 2 selection of the Phillies. He has not played well defensively since turning professional - and that may hold him back. His game is his speed, as he could be a huge stolen-base threat if he ever puts things together. He's a long way off, but a name to remember.
Pete Kozma - Cardinals
Kozma has done an adequate job filling in at shortstop for the Cardinals until they can determine their direction with that position. In the end, the job may be his permanently. I think they can get more offense on the trade market. Kozma has no power, hasn't stolen bases and is hitting .250, which is certainly respectable. The big plus for Kozma? He's only made one error in 163 chances. but that doesn't help us in fantasy.
Joe Panik - Giants
Panik was selected as a second baseman in the first round of the 2011 draft. He has hit for average every year in professional baseball. He makes contact, but doesn't show much power at all. He has a bit of speed. His best tool will be his ability to hit at the top of the order where his bat control will allow him to hit behind runners. He won't help much as a fantasy shortstop. He might be worth the risk, however, if he is also eligible at second base. He's currently playing at Double-A Richmond. I believe he's on a fast track.
Brad Miller - Mariners
Here's a guy to remember. He can hit, and he can hit so well that he may hasten the departure of Brendan Ryan. He's already at Double-A. Miller and Nick Franklin comprise a very formidable combination of players that can both play middle-infield positions if given the opportunity. I think they may be interchangeable parts. Miller has power as well as an ability to hit for average. I really like this guy. Carlos Triunfel was supposed to be the heir apparent in Seattle. I think its Miller and Franklin or Franklin and Miller. It's not a law firm. It's a new, fresh double play combination ready to go when the Mariners are blown up.
Luis Sardinas - Rangers
As if Juickson Profar isn't enough, the Rangers also have Sardinas waiting in the wings. He is as smooth as silk and really got my attention last fall. I admit I thought the Rangers would trade Profar to the Diamondbacks for Justin Upton, sign Elvis Andrus (which they did) and then move Andrus to center field eventually, making a place for Sardinas. Upton is no longer an option, but Sardinas is still an option - for the future. He's already at High-A Myrtle Beach where he's hitting well. He has very good speed. Very good. And he knows how to steal bases.
Other names to note:
Orlando Arcia - Brewers
Gavin Cecchini - Mets former number #1 pick
Cito Culver - Yankees
Gift Ngoepe – Pirates (Also plays 2B)
Ryan Jackson - Cardinals
Jace Peterson – Padres - A supplemental first-round pick in 2011
Hanser Alberto - Rangers
Zach Walters - Nationals
Jason Martinson - Nationals
Carlos Triunfel - Mariners (see Brad Miller)
Follow me on Twitter @BerniePleskoff and on MLB.com in the Voices section.