If you thought last week’s third base prospect list was exciting, this group of shortstops will be sure to impress. With 5 shortstops in the top 10 of my Top 100 Prospect List coming out in March, and another 8-10 making the list, these players are among the elite prospects in baseball. After recent graduates Xander Bogaerts, Danny Santana, and Wilmer Flores, there is a changing of the guard at the shortstop position. The top 5 prospects in particular are near major league ready with all of the tools necessary to become top 10 options at the position. If you are not fortunate enough to have one of these five, there are plenty below them that offer significant potential as well. I did not include Yoan Moncada in this ranking as he has yet to sign, but he would be in the Best of the Best group.
A reminder that I am not a scout. I watch a lot of video and read a ton of information as a fan of all things minor league; there are no eye-witness accounts of the players listed below. They are ranked based on their fantasy value only. I hope you enjoy! For more shortstop prospects, check out the Prospect Grid.
The Best of the Best
Carlos Correa had his season cut short last year when he broke his fibula, but not before he hit .325/.416/.510 in high A ball as a 19-year-old. He should start 2015 in AA and be ready for a debut some time in 2016. He has it all: ability to hit for average, strong plate discipline, developing power, and a little speed. There are a ton of great shortstop prospects, but Correa clearly stands above them with the potential to be a high-impact fantasy contributor.
Addison Russell and Corey Seager are two power shortstops who could see the majors at some point in 2015. Russell has plus power to go with a strong approach at the plate and some speed on the basepaths. A complete package at shortstop, Russell could end up being a 20/20 player in the major leagues. Although there is some swing and miss to his game, he makes hard contact to all fields. Russell should spend most of 2015 in AAA. Seager, at 20 years old, led all of the minor leagues in doubles with 50 last season, across A and AA. His OPS was 1.004 for the season, showing a glimpse of the future impact bat he could provide. While Seager doesn’t have the speed of Lindor, Russell, or Correa, he definitely has the power, with 25 home run potential in the major leagues.
Speedsters Francisco Lindor and J.P. Crawford don’t have the same power but offer different skill sets. Lindor is possibly the best defensive shortstop in the minors, meaning there is no concern he will move off of the position. Lindor can also hit for average, draw plenty of walks, and steal some bases, making him a potential impact player at the top of the Indians lineup. There is also some pop in that bat, and he could end up hitting 10-15 home runs in the majors. He’ll start 2015 in AAA, but it’s a matter of time before he gets promoted. Crawford has excellent speed, developing power and good on-base skills. As a 19-year-old, Crawford hit .285/.375/.406 with 11 home runs and 24 stolen bases between A and A+ last year. There is no concern about him not being able to handle shortstop defensively, making him a future top 5-10 option at the position. Crawford is my personal favorite prospect, and he should be ready for the majors by 2017.
It’s unfair to call this group second-tier prospects because all of them are exciting prospects who could produce significant fantasy value.
Adrian Rondon was ranked the #1 international prospect when he signed last July on his 16th birthday. Obviously a few years away, Rondon already has an advanced bat and can hit for power to all fields. He’s definitely someone to watch because he could climb faster than you’d think.
2014 draftees Nick Gordon and Trea Turner check in next. Gordon doesn’t have his brother Dee’s blazing speed, but he has developing power to go along with the ability to hit for average. Gordon just turned 19, so there’s a lot of projection left, but he looks like a 20 SB talent who can hit double-digit home runs. Turner has plus plus speed, and when coupled with his ability to get on base, he makes an exciting lead-off candidate. Turner has a little pop in his bat too, but it’s his speed that will make him a fantasy asset. He needs to be less aggressive at the plate because his strikeout rate is too high for this kind of profile. 2015 will be an interesting development season because he’s still Padres property as a player to be named later to the Nationals.
Raul Mondesi and Tim Anderson are all about the tools. Mondesi hit 8 home runs and stole 17 bases as a 19-year-old in high A ball last year. Cup half-empty: he hit .211/.256/.354 with 122 strikeouts in 435 at bats. With plus speed and developing power along with excellent defense, Mondesi has a chance to be a special talent. Cup half-full: perhaps a small window of opportunity to acquire him from a nervous owner. Anderson has plus speed to go with a fair bit of power projection. He is overly aggressive at the plate, striking out 23% of the time while only walking at a 3% clip. This makes him a bigger risk unless his hit tool catches up with his other skills. I’ve been slow to come around on him because of this, but it’s getting more and more difficult to ignore his tools and athleticism.
Some young shortstops to watch include Amed Rosario, Ozhaino Albies, and Franklin Barreto. At 18 years old, Rosario hit .289/.337/.380 in low A last year and got a brief taste of A ball at the end of the season. A breakout candidate for 2015, Rosario has good power potential, a little speed, and the ability to hit for a decent average. If you’re looking for potential 20/20 players, he fits the mold. Albies was signed out of Curacao last year at just 17 years old. He makes excellent contact to go along with plus speed. Just 5’9″, 150 lbs , there isn’t a lot of power projection to him, but he could hit for a good average, walk, and steal bases. Finally, 18-year-old Barreto has plus speed to go with his excellent bat. He doesn’t have a lot of power, and at 5’9″ Barreto doesn’t project to more than 10 home runs in the majors. With the ability to steal 30 bases while hitting for average, Oakland landed themselves an exciting young prospect.
Daniel Robertson and Orlando Arcia are a pair of 20-year-old prospects who should begin 2015 in AA. Robertson was traded to the Rays as a part of the Zobrist/Escobar deal. He makes good contact with excellent discipline at the plate. There isn’t a lot of speed and just average power, but he should provide a good average and on base percentage. Arcia makes very good contact and has plus speed and outstanding defense. There isn’t a lot of power, but he should contribute a good average and 20+ stolen bases.
This group includes some very young, high-ceiling prospects as well as some more seasoned minor league players with solid chances to be every day regulars.
Gleyber Torres, Jorge Mateo, and Willy Adames are outstanding young prospects who could increase their stock in 2015. Signed by the Cubs in 2013 out of Venezuela, Torres looks like he could be the complete package at shortstop. He has developing power, speed, and the ability to hit for average. As a 17-year-old last year, he hit .297/.386/.440 between AZL and low A. Mateo was signed as a 16-year-old from the Dominican Republic in 2012. He has plus plus speed to go along with some future power potential. His 2014 season was cut short by a broken finger, but not before stealing 11 bases in 15 games. Still a long way away, Mateo will be a highly watched prospect next year. Finally, Willy Adames was a key piece moving to Tampa in the David Price trade. Just 18 years old, Adames hit .271/.353/.429 in A ball last year with 14 triples and 8 home runs. He has some pop in his bat to good with an advanced approach at the plate.
Once considered a top prospect, Alen Hanson has seen his value decrease the last two seasons. In 2014 he hit a solid .280/.322/.442 as a 21-year-old in AA. He still has plus speed (25 SB last year) with enough power to hit 10+ home runs in the majors. His discipline at the plate still needs work, but he is not to be forgotten among future impact shortstops.
Jorge Polanco is another good contact/speed player who made a brief appearance with the Twins last season. He has some extra base power to go along with his good average and on base skills. With the Twins middle infield in place, Polanco will likely start 2015 in AAA.
To say that Wilmer Difo broke out in 2014 would be a gross understatement. After hitting .250 over his first four professional seasons with no power, Difo hit .315/.360/.470 last year with 14 home runs and 49 stolen bases in A ball. Difo, with his strong approach, high contact rates, and plus speed, profiles as a future top of the order threat. He will be 23 years old next season and needs to maintain his production as he hits higher levels.
Jung-Ho Kang was signed out of Korea by the Pirates this offseason. He has good power that should translate to the major leagues, though at 27 years old he hasn’t faced the highest quality competition. He has a long leg kick in his swing which will likely be exploited by major league velocity. He should run into his share of home runs, but likely with a large number of strikeouts and a lower batting average.
Other Prospects to Know
This is such a deep position that even these final three need consideration in dynasty formats.
The third top shortstop prospect recently acquired by the Rays, Andrew Velazquez has plus speed and surprising power in his 5’8″, 175 lb frame. His approach at the plate is solid, though he has a fair bit of swing-and-miss to his game. With 50 stolen bases and a .367 OBP last season, Velazquez looks like he could become an everyday infielder for the Rays.
Franchy Cordero had a rough time in A ball as a 19-year-old last year hitting .188/.237/.235 before being sent to low A where he recovered with a .279/.329/.458 line. Cordero has solid power potential to go along with his good base-running ability. He is overly aggressive at the plate and will need to cut down his strikeouts in order to come near his quite-high ceiling.
Checking in at #25 is the 2014 first round draft pick out of Stanford, Alex Blandino. Blandino has good power to go with a nice approach at the plate. At 22 years old, he’ll face tougher competition next year but could move quickly. Blandino’s power and a possible position change to 2B are a couple of things to keep an eye on.
Honorable Mentions to Nick Ahmed (Diamondbacks), Ketel Marte (Mariners), Luis Sardinas (Phillies), Nolan Fontana (Astros), Rosell Herrera (Rockies)
Still need more rankings, head on over to Fantasy Rundown where Goose has compiled Prospect Rankings from all the top sites on the web along with rankings for the 2015 season and the best baseball links available.