It seems as though every high-upside toolsy player starts out as either a shortstop or an outfielder. Many shortstop prospects will not be shortstops in the majors. Once they break into the minors, the glove and arm that carried them for so long is no longer the best on the team.
For a while shortstops just weren’t putting up great fantasy numbers. We are starting to see another upswing for the position with a lot of young shortstops, and the threshold for being a start worthy option has increased. There are a lot of young guys already in the majors, and a number of high-end prospects are on their way to the bigs now.
One of the best thing about investing in the shortstop position is even if the player’s offensive tools don’t end up being elite, a lot of times they will get over ranked on non-fantasy lists like MLB.com and by Keith Law.
Shortstops who can hit enough to not kill a team with a great glove are valuable to those outlets. Hitting .265 with 10 homers and 10 steals with an elite glove might help some major league teams, but that does next to nothing for fantasy owners – short of those in 30 team leagues with deep minor league systems.
If you have any questions on any players feel free to ask about them in the comment section below or on Twitter Follow @TheSportsGuy40
Note: Just because a player isn’t mentioned doesn’t mean I like or dislike them; I just feel like their current value falls in line with what it should be, or the guys I chose were more underrated or overrated than the ones I left off.
If you are looking for the top-30 prospect shortstop rankings click here. We will continue to have prospect rankings on Friday’s and my values the following week.
Gleyber Torres: Let me say this before you roll your eyes and ignore the rest of this – then again, I already got the click so ignoring it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I like these guys, just not as much as a lot of other people do.
Torres slashed .270/.354/.421 last year between the Cubs and Yankees minor league systems. He had his highest power output as well with 11 homers and 21 steals as a 19-year-old in high-A. Torres is no doubt a big part of the future for the Yankees.
He is already a pretty advanced hitter and should hit for a nice average – in his best season 20 homers, but I would expect 15 most seasons. I don’t think he has elite speed, but he will add some steals; the 21 steals he had last season probably wont happen. The ceiling might be about 15, with him getting 10-12 most seasons.
So why hate? I do not think he is a top-10 prospect, or a top-three shortstop prospect. Does that mean he is bad? Not at all. But the big guys, Keith Law and MLB.com, have him there. Both have him as the top shortstop and a top-four prospect
Torres is still looking at 2018 at the earliest to make it to the majors, and I would rather have the upside of someone like Brendan Rodgers (my top shortstop) with the same ETA. Then there are guys like Dansby Swanson, Willy Adames and Franklin Barreto that are closer with similar upside.
The position is so unbelievably deep now that .290 with 20 homers and 15 steals, which I think are all absolute ceiling numbers for him, isn’t anything more than a borderline top-10 option. In reality I would be looking for .280-.285 with 18 homers and 12 steals.
J.P. Crawford: I haven’t been a Crawford fan for a while now. The great on base percentage went away last year as he only had a .349 OBP – still good, but not enough to overcome his other shortcomings.
Crawford has very little power upside, and he isn’t going to be a shortstop that piles up the steals. In 1817 plate appearances (would equate to about three major league seasons) he has 35 home runs and 62 steals. He has never hit more than 11 homers, and the 11 homer season came in a year where he split time between low and high-A.
The steals were similar. In his first two seasons between rookie, low-A and high-A he stole 36 bases in 766 plate appearances. Since then, 1051 plate appearances, he has only stolen 24 bases.
Crawford is fine if you want someone who can be safe in an OBP league, but only fine. In his best years he might go 12/12 with a .380 OBP. His prospect value is probably a lot higher than that. It has fallen a bit since this time last season, but you can probably still get top-25 level prospect value out of him in trade.
Ahmed Rosario: Keith Law’s number three and MLB.com‘s number five ranked prospect this season comes in at number eight for me, among shortstops.
Rosario really burst onto the scene after a 2016 season where he hit .324. Prior to 2016 Rosario’s best year was a .274/.320/.372 season, albeit as a 18-year-old.
Rosario hasn’t shown the ability to hit for any power whatsoever, just 10 homers in 1501 plate appearances. Part of prospect hunting is predicting future ability, typically in power numbers. With Rosario, I think that projected power means about 10-12 homers per season. I would like to see Rosario show he can hit for a good average before I just vault him into the top-10 prospects in all of baseball.
I could see him as a .280 hitter with 10 homers and 20 steals. Is that an elite player? No. Is it useful? Sure, but when you are looking at the top-25 prospects, is that really what you are wanting out of their best years?
Richard Urena: I am not a big believer in Urena, you can probably tell by the really low ranking. He doesn’t have a ton of power, doesn’t walk, strikes out a lot, and doesn’t steal bases. I can see appeal in 20 team or deeper league, but outside of that he shows little fantasy upside to me.
If you invest in him you are hoping the average is above .300 and he can hit 15 homers every year, and I think even that is a bit of an unrealistic hope. The on base percentage isn’t going to be good; he has just about three strikeouts for every walk, so I can’t ever see him being a top of the order type of player.
Delvin Perez: He went into the 2016 season as one of the top picks in the draft, then he failed a PED test and dropped all the way to the back half of the draft.
As a 17-year-old in rookie ball Perez did pretty well slashing .294/.352/.393 with 12 steals in just 43 games. The steals will probably end up being his biggest asset to fantasy owners. I wouldn’t be surprised if he steals 40 bases some years and would expect an average of 30 per season.
The power is something that is really just a hope right now. At just 18 there is a lot of growing to do in the power department for just about any prospect. I would cross my fingers that Perez can hit 12 homers per year to go with the elite steals numbers.
It will be interesting to see how the average holds up over the full season this year, but I think you can expect to get .280-.290 out of him. Perez is probably four years away.
Gilbert Lara: My love for Lara is mostly based off of potential. He was signed for more than $3 million in 2014 as a J2 signing, but hasn’t done much since. I still think he is undervalued.
A lot of these J2 signings get a lot of hype and fanfare when they get signed, and then in the next offseason people forget about them if they don’t immediately hit and start building hype.
He was, just three years ago, one of the best international prospects to be signed. He is 6’2” and just turned 19. There is some power potential to be tapped into. Maybe he doesn’t have it, but I wouldn’t count out a 19-year-old that has 122 games under his belt.
Lara is probably going to cost very little right now. He hasn’t done anything, the signing shine has worn off, and every time a new wave of prospects comes in (draft or J2 signings) these guys get forgotten a little more.
If you have any questions or players at a position I haven’t gotten to yet also leave them in the comment section below and I can do some digging and maybe they will be included when I get to that position.