Top Minor League Shortstops

This is the cream of the crop. The players who have the potential to help your team to the playoffs. Willy Adames received a promotion and will probably be with the Rays for the rest of the year so he was not considered. Brendan Rodgers and Nick Gordon were identified on our second base list while Kevin Maitan was listed with the top third base prospects. That is not to say they would appear on this list, but they were not considered because of their major league status or being chosen for another position.

1. Fernando Tatis Jr. (Padres) - Hard to believe the White Sox traded him for James Shields. They were border line contending when they traded him. The next year they were selling off their veterans for prospects. This is a trade they would want back. Tatis is not a great defensive player at this position. An eventual move to third is a possibility for this Dominican whose father played third base for the Cardinals and hit two grand slams in one inning. That could be the ultimate position for Junior. What is attractive about him is his bat. It has the potential to hit for .300 with 20 plus homeruns. This year he is hitting .285 with 14 homeruns in 77 games at AA. If there is one weakness in his game it is his ability to make contact. This year it has gotten worse with 97 whiffs in 77 games. One thing that has been reduced has been his errors. Last year he made 30 errors at short. This year he has only committed 9 errors.

2. Bo Bichette (Blue Jays) - Another son of a major leaguer (Dante) who also may move to second base. His bat is good enough for third but that will be Vladimir Guerrero Jrs position and the way Cavan Biggio is hitting second base could be occupied. The Blue Jays would like to see him succeed at short, but his range will be limited. The bat should play anywhere. Coming into the 2018 season the second round pick in the 2016 draft had a career .372 average. The Blue Jays have been aggressive with him, promoting him to AA after just 40 games in High A last year. His bat has slowed a bit, hitting .278 but he is making good contact and hitting the gaps for power with 21 doubles. He also has stolen 26 bases in 32 attempts. At short he needs to improve his consistency with 16 errors. A lack of range will not be tolerated if he commits a number of errors to go with that.

3. Royce Lewis (Twins) - Royce was the very first pick in the 2017 draft. The tools are there for him to stay at shortstop with solid range and a strong arm. He also has a good gene pool with his mom being a pretty talented softball player while playing for San Jose State. He just needs to improve on his consistency. The Twins are having him repeat at Low A where he finished last year. He is hitting .319 with 8 homeruns to run his slugging percentage to .491. His speed is also showing on the bases with 19 steals in 23 attempts. One area of improvement would be his patience at the plate. Currently his K to whiff ratio is above 2 to 1 (43/19) which would be an indicator that he is swinging at too many pitcher’s pitches. Considering his age (19) there is plenty of time for him to improve on that part of his game.

4. Carter Kieboom (Nationals) - His father played baseball in the Netherlands but moved to the United States to attend college in Illinois, where he also played baseball. His brother Spencer is a catcher in the Nationals system, Tommy John surgery preventing him from playing for Netherlands in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Carter was the Nationals first round pick in the 2016 draft. Spencer was a fifth round pick of the 2012 draft. It is obvious who has the tools. Carter may eventually have to move to second since his range and arm fall into the average category for short. If he sticks at short he will be an offensive oriented player who will struggle to help you on defense. After showing good power in High A this year, hitting 11 homeruns for a .494 slugging the Nationals promoted him to AA Harrisburg. In AA his bat continues to shine with a .375 average and two homeruns in 12 games. The Nationals have kept him at short despite his 14 errors in 68 games.

5. Kevin Smith (Blue Jays) - The fourth round pick in the 2017 draft has the tools to play shortstop. He earned the position as a freshman out of Maryland and played there for three years. The range may not be great but there is consistency in fielding the balls that he gets to. He also showed a little power in his bat, hitting 8 homeruns last year in the rookie league and going a perfect 9 for 9 in stolen bases. The one area of concern was his patience at the plate (16/70 walk to whiff ratio). This year his bat has been electric. A .355 average with 7 homeruns and a 1.046 OPS got him a promotion to High A. The bat continues to shine there with a .311 average and a .892 OPS. He is a year behind Bo but is probably the better defensive alternative of the two. Expect him to ultimately be the shortstop of the Blue Jays.

6. O’Neil Cruz (Pirates) - At 6′6 we can’t see the Dominican staying at short. His 24 errors in 71 games has put his fielding percentage just above .900. The Pirates did play him more at third his first couple years, but this year all his games have been at short. The long length gives him a large strike zone where last year he struck out 132 times in 105 games. This year his contact rate has improved and his power has taken off with 10 homeruns and a .525 slugging percentage. His long legs have enabled him to leg out seven triples. Unless his consistency in the field improves myworld sees him moving to third. At 19 years of age the Pirates have time to see if his consistency improves at short.

7. Nicky Lopez (Royals) - The Royals selected Nicky in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. They have been so impressed with his progress that in 2017 he skipped Low A and started in High A, hitting .295 to be promoted to AA. The defensive tools exist for him to be an above average shortstop. His instincts around the baseball field will allow him to play above his tools. The power is not there but his line drive swing will find the gaps. This year he raked at Arkansas hitting .331 with two homeruns. That got him a promotion to AAA. In his first three games there he hit .417 with two homeruns. The Royals have a couple defensive players at short who have struggled providing offense this year. Don’t be surprised to see Lopez promoted to the Royals for a September debut. The only thing holding him back would be to keep him off the 40 man roster so they can protect other players in 2019.

8. Jasardo Chisholm (Diamondbacks) - Lucius Fox is his half brother. The Diamondbacks signed Chisholm out of the Bahamas after watching his half brother play. Fox has the better speed but Jazz has the better defensive tools. He needs to improve his consistency on defense, committing 18 errors in 63 games. His bat was not supposed to carry a lot of power but this year he has already swatted 12 homeruns for a .475 slugging percentage. Improving his patience at the plate (27/77 walk to whiff ratio) could improve his .249 average. Time will tell if he can sustain the power. At 20 years of age he should fill out more and get stronger. If the power stays he could turn into an offensive oriented shortstop who plays a solid defense.

9. Gavin Lux (Dodgers) - Lux was the Dodgers first round pick in 2016. With Corey Seager at short Gavin would be the ideal player the Dodgers could trade to provide veteran help in a playoff run. Or they could move him to second. His uncle Augie Schmidt was the second overall pick in the 1982 draft but did not make a major league impact. After a poor 2017 season Gavin did not look deserving of his first round status. This year he seems to have found his bat, though his numbers are enhanced by the hitter friendly California League environment. He is hitting .310 with 8 homeruns and a .894 OPS. His fielding at short has lacked consistency so the Dodgers have been giving him some time at second base. Last year his speed allowed him to steal 27 bases in 37 attempts. This year he has been limited to seven stolen bases in 14 attempts.

10. Richie Martin (Athletics) - Richie was a first round pick of the Athletics in 2015. The big knock on him was his lack of a bat, which dropped him down the prospect ladder. Jorge Mateo and Franklin Barreto rated ahead of him with Marcus Semien the major league alternative. The defensive tools are gold glove caliber if he can find his bat. This year at AA the bat has been located. He entered this season with a career average of .236. In the Texas League he is hitting .311. The power is still absent limiting him to a bottom of the order placement in the lineup but the glove will make up for his lack of run production. If he continues to hit over .300 the Athletics may give him a September opportunity.

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