Continuing our run through the Top 10 Lists for prospects, we find ourselves at SS. This is one of the deepest lists and seems to go on forever outside of the Top 100. We look at the upper level guys like Profar and Machado down to the lesser touted like Lake. So once again, let’s take a step back and take a broad look at the minor leagues as we go position by position and bring to you the Top Position Lists with some additional players and information.
Because as we said, we’ll be analyzing the Baseball Instinct 360° not only full circle, but 365 days a year. The deeper we get into the video and our customized Instinctools Stat System, the more the view changes from the top.
So let’s get into the shortstop position and give you the list and some of the current thoughts.
In the Top 100
10°. Jurickson Profar, SS, Rangers, 2/20/1993 – I’m of the mindset that Profar will replace Ian Kinsler in a few years at 2B and that will give the Rangers a potent double play combo up the middle. Profar should be a .285+ hitter with 20+ HR power and 20+ SB speed. His frame is currently so underdeveloped that it’s a difficult proposition to say what his ultimate upside is. But one of the largest pluses for Profar is his approach to the game. It’s a characteristic that has me comfortable saying that he’ll be a high floor player. He’s one of the few 18-year-old players that is almost a surefire major leaguer. He will be at least a utility player and has the ceiling of an All-Star. ETA 2014.
Update Instinct – It’s a high ranking for an 18-year-old. A lot can still go wrong, but Profar is doing things most 18 year olds don’t do. He’s blocked at SS, so there’s no reason to rush him. SS, 2B or CF? He’ll eventually settle into one of those spots and the bat will play at any of them.
16°. Manny Machado, SS, Orioles, 7/6/1992 – While Machado certainly has facets of his offensive game that he needs to refine, remember that he’s just 19 and has already tasted High-A. That’s where he should start 2012 and he’ll need to work hard to get his k/bb back in line. We’re not expecting him to be a 1/1 type but he will need to keep the K’s under control in order to succeed long-term. His contact ability is enough to project him as a .290-.300 hitter and if his power continues to blossom I think he could hit 20 HR annually with 10 SBs while playing a solid enough SS to stick long-term for the Orioles. All Star level? It’ll be close and I think that may be his ultimate peak level as he approaches his prime years. ETA 2014.
Update Instinct - Machado still has some development before he’s a refined product and the injuries in 2011 set his development time back some. Still solid with this placement and at this time next year he should be a top 10 prospect.
34°. Xander Bogaerts, SS/3B, Red Sox, 10/1/1992 – Bogaerts’ power potential makes him a player with a high offensive ceiling. Going into 2012, what I would want to see is how his hit tool will develop. Judging by this year alone, his hit tool doesn’t look to be more than average. But he has an impressive ability to drive balls to all fields, and if he can cut down on his strikeouts, he might be able to have an average to above-average hit tool, which would make him a special player. Though he’s athletic, and this season made huge improvements defensively, most of us believe his future isn’t at SS. He’ll most likely end up at one of the corner positions with 3B being a good profile or a move to an OF corner. ETA 2015.
Update Instinct – Bogaerts might be the best bat on this list in the long run but his chances of sticking at SS as he matures aren’t as good as many of the other top 100 guys. Could move into the upper echelon in 2012.
39°. Jean Segura, SS, Angels, 3/17/1990 – He should be able to make his way to Anaheim as their starting SS and team up with second baseman Howie Kendrick for a couple of years. Over the longer term, I still think the Segura will be the player that replaces Kendrick should he leave via free agency in the future. That’s simply because Segura is not a classic SS, but fits well there with the Angels based on need. Upside: .300/20/ 30 SB SS. Downside: Utility IF with .280/10/30 potential. Either way, he’s an exciting prospect. Now if he can just stay healthy to polish his game. ETA 2014.
Update Instinct – Keeping him this high on the charts speaks to the tools that Segura has, but he has to stay healthy in 2012. If he does, he will be a break out name and get touted like the top prospect he already is.
40°. Nick Franklin, SS, Mariners, 3/2/1991 – If he adds weight and becomes a 25+ HR type with SS actions at the hot corner, he’ll fit very well with the Mariners. If not, then the Mariners will force the issue and try to keep him at shortstop, pairing him with Ackley at second. Franklin is still young and there is development time that he is going to need before that decision needs to be made. He’ll start the 2012 season at Double-A and probably spend the whole season there. If a defensive transition needs to be made, it should be started next year.ETA 2013.
Update Instinct – Franklin tore up the AFL in a way I hadn’t expected. We’ll have to see if that was his jumping off point as a true upper level bat. Sticking at SS is still up in the air and if the power is really going to make a leap it’ll be easier for the M’s to move him. For now I think he’s still the SS of the future until someone else pushes him off.
55°. Javier Baez, SS/3B, Cubs, 12/1/1992 - Offensively he has lightning quick bat speed, which some have compared to another former Florida high school shortstop, Gary Sheffield. Baez is an aggressive hitter although he did show some ability to take walks as an amateur. He has a chance to be an impact hitter who can hit for average and power, decent speed, as well as a solid glove that will likely need to be moved to 3B or the outfield. ETA 2015.
Update Instinct – A high ranking for such a young player. Good power potential. Probably not a SS in Chicago with both Castro and Lake ahead of him. Even if he does everything we expect in 2012 this is probably right around where he ranks in 2013, a borderline Top 50.
70°. Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Rays, 11/4/1990 – During his younger years I think Lee will have enough speed, contact and glove to be a useful player for the Rays. He has enough speed to be a 30 SB type now. The power would surprise me if he ever hit 10 HR in a season while he was still able to steal 30 bags. If he can learn to better work counts and boost his bb% over 10% it would put him at a very high OBP level and give him one elite level skill. That skill set growth alone, with the current speed, would make him an ideal leadoff hitter with or without any additional power development. That’s his ceiling. Very usable. His floor is quite high as well, as a major league utility infielder. That’s why he landed on our Top 100 List. He’ll never be an elite level talent, but the chances are good that he becomes a league average player or better and that’s tough to come by. ETA 2014.
Update Instinct – High floor and that drives the ranking because he’s going to stick at SS. I don’t think he’s knocking on the door but he’s not far off either. There is just a touch of refinement needed and he’ll be a finished product. I still think that if the Rays give Beckham a shot at SS, it will be Lee battling him for the position in 2 years.
73°. Billy Hamilton, SS, Reds, 9/9/1990 – You can’t evaluate Reds middle infielder Billy Hamilton without acknowledging that he has elite speed. It truly defines his game. Look for him to start high-A ball in 2012, and watch the strikeout and walk rates closely. Hamilton simply has to develop a better contact rate and improve plate discipline. If and when he does, not even Wiley Coyote can catch him as he races up the prospect charts. ETA 2014.
Update Instinct – Elite speedster and this should be the season where he starts putting a mature approach toward at bats and we’ll see his value skyrocket. Stealing 100 bases is special. If he can just refine that approach a little bit we may see him doing just that in Cincinnati early in his career.
76°. Jonathan Schoop, SS, Orioles, 10/16/1991 – If he hits like he has when it’s been going well, Schoop is an above-average SS or CF and easily an everyday 3B in Major League Baseball. There is some chance he could be better than that. Unfortunately, based on the peaks and valleys, the still raw swing, and Schoop’s age, he is far from a sure thing to even make it to the bigs at this point. The walks concern me. And it’s not just the raw walk numbers. Schoop has just not shown good strike zone judgment. He’s not a hitter like Robinson Cano or Starlin Castro who can swing at everything and still hit. He has to refine that skill, which he still has plenty of time to do. If he does, and continues to advance in the way he has, the Orioles will have the beautiful problem of figuring out what to do with two fantastic SS prospects. ETA 2014.
Update Instinct – Schoop probably won’t stick at SS, but it’s more because of Machado’s presence than his lack of ability. He could move to SS or 3B, or even possibly the OF. That move may happen as early as 2012 if his bat continues to advance at the rate it did in 2011.
80°. Rougned Odor, SS, Rangers, 2/3/1994 – It is too early to make a solid judgment on Odor, but there is an intriguing set of skills starting with a potential speed/power combination at a premium position. We would like see Odor improve his strike zone management skills and develop more power along the way, while making sure that he stays out of trouble. Odor is light years away from being a finished product, but his development bears watching closely because his tools can be projected as well above average and if he grows into that frame he could have above average power as well. High upside with a chance to bust if not developed properly. But a player we would want in our system. ETA 2016.
Update Instinct – A high ranking for Odor. He has a lot of talent but is still very raw. His time frame for development is still very long term but the tools are very high level. This could be a very volatile ranking in 2012.
84°. Junior Lake, SS, Cubs, 3/27/1990 – Lake is one of the toolsiest players in the entire Cubs’ system. He’s had trouble with both his contact ability and use of his speed in past season, but in 2011, he put most of it together and made it to Double-A after dominating the FSL. While he’s getting better as a SS, he still projects to move to either 3B or 2B in the near future. He did very well in the AFL this fall and the speed and power were on display. Check out his Prospect Instinct here for more details. Lake should start back in Double-A and projects as a 20/20 hitter and possibly more. ETA 2014.
Update Instinct – Lake is a prospect that I think is unjustly ignored by the masses. His 2011 should stand as notice to the prospect world but he still has some things that need to be proven in Double-A in 2012. He could fly through but the Cubs would be served well to give him at least another full season.
The Best of the Rest
106°. Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians, 11/14/1993 – The consensus of opinion is that Lindor will stick at shortstop. He has quickness, great range and a cannon-arm. Offensively, they hope he can play the table-setter role in the batting lineup and use his plus speed to cruise the bases. With Tony Wolters a year ahead of him development-wise and Cabrera and Kipnis in the bigs already, there won’t be any need to rush him. Unfortunately, he signed just in time to provide us with only a tiny sample of statistical data. He should go back to NY/Penn to start 2012. Then we will have some numbers to dig into. ETA 2015.
111°. Joe Panik, SS, Giants, 10/30/1990 – He definitely finds ways to get on base, which was nicely complimented by 13 stolen bases during the 2011 season. With 49 runs scored and 54 rbi’s, Panik has the look of an offensive player that can cause damage in all sorts of ways. Another very promising marker for Panik is his excellent strike zone management with 28bb/25k. This is a player that will make pitchers work and can maximize his tools. He needs to carry this performance to higher levels, but Panik has the potential to become a high-level middle infielder at the major league level. ETA 2014.
148°. Tony Wolters, SS, Indians, 6/9/1992 – Grabbed in the 3rd round in 2010, Cleveland hopes Wolters may be their shortstop of the future. After hitting .292 with 78 hits and 30 walks against 49 strikeouts over 267 at bats in Short Season New York/Penn League, this youngster hasn’t changed anyone’s opinion. He gets raves from scouts and coaches as being a “baseball rat”. And his speed on the bases with a .385 OBP show he could have the stuff to hit near or at the top of a batting order. ETA 2014.
151° . Tyler Saladino, SS, White Sox, 7/20/1989 – Tyler Saladino has done nothing but hit in his pro career since being drafted out of Oral Roberts in the seventh round of 2010. He boasts unusual power for a shortstop, slugging 16 home runs in just 102 games in the pitcher-friendly Carolina League, ranking third in the circuit in slugging percentage (.501). He also hit 26 doubles and nine triples, and he brings a solid approach to the plate that allowed him to post a .363 OBP. There are some concerns about his defense at shortstop, but he should at least be able to handle second base at a major league level. Saladino remains underrated; he’s not a flashy player, but he has a very good bat for the middle infield. In a system where most of the position players have serious question marks in at least one area of the game, his well-rounded skill-set is refreshing. ETA 2014.
161°. Jordany Valdespin, SS, Mets, 12/23/1987 – He’s been in the organization for 5 years and really took off midway through 2010 and the 2011 season. The Mets have him playing in the Dominican Winter League, perhaps as a primer to challenge Ruben Tejada for the starting job (since they didn’t resign Reyes) in 2012. So far it isn’t pretty, with a triple slash line of .222/.288/.352 in 54 at bats with Licey. He’s got to work counts deeper and draw some walks if he’s going to be taken seriously as a potential MLB regular. Though with a few adjustments he could very well end up the SS in Flushing for the foreseeable future. ETA 2012.
163°. Trevor Story, SS, Rockies, 11/15/1992 – Story’s 2011 performance in Casper is impressive in and of itself. In some cases, as an 18-year-old, Story faced competition older than him by a few years. Yet, he showed the power (.168 ISOP), the speed (12 stolen bases), and the ability to take a walk. With such a showing in a league that other teams like to send college players and Latin talent, Story now has warranted some expectations for 2012 where he’ll play in Asheville. ETA 2015.
183°. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS, Blue Jays, 4/15/1989 – Cuban import with a slick glove and potential with the bat that hasn’t surfaced in the quick rise up the Jays system. He started 2011 in Double-A where he hit just .234 over 464 AB. He did have 22 doubles, 6 triples and 6 HR with 18 SB. So there was production. But a low walk rate limits his upper batting order possibilities. In a short stint to end the season in Triple-A, he caught fire with a .389 AVG over 108 AB. But was back to normal in the AFL where he hit .250 over 78 AB. If he’s going to be in Toronto soon, he’ll end up a bottom of the order hitter. ETA 2013.
188°. Tyler Pastornicky, SS, Braves, 12/13/1989 – Pastornicky is an option for the Braves right out of camp in 2012 and Manager Fredi Gonzalez indicated that Pastornicky is his guy. Will they bring in a veteran? Possibly, but they’ve been known to start rookies right out of the gate. Pastornicky is a baseball rat. His skill set doesn’t suggest he will be an above average SS, but his make up may allow him to be a starter, or at minimum a super-utility type capable of playing multiple positions. ETA 2012.
195°. Yordy Cabrera, SS, Athletics, 9/03/1990 – He has a good glove and a plus arm. It seems likely that a shift to 3B could happen in the future. He’s a terribly raw hitter, but by most accounts is an astute player. He should be able to develop into a player who can hit for average, with above average power. I’m not convinced that the speed on the base paths is going to hold up as he grows up; but it’s a pleasant bonus in the meantime. He’s likely to get another dose of the Midwest League in 2012. ETA 2015.
196°. Freddy Galvis, 2B/SS, Phillies, 11/14/1989 – Galvis is a special glove that could step in defensively right now. His bat is passable and he hit .298 in a short stint in Triple A, while hitting 22 doubles, 8 HRs and stealing 19 SB in Double A. If he can come anywhere near that in the show he’ll be a solid regular. He’s not going to be a fantasy baseball star, but the glove is excellent. Now that Jimmy signed, Galvis is a utility infielder. And a good one at that. He’ll see Philly in 2012 and should spell both Rollins and Utley. He’s not going to hit .300 and isn’t going to have a ton of power, but the glove and good speed make him a valuable player for a franchise. ETA 2012.
201°. Wilmer Flores, SS, Mets, 8/06/1991 – Pegged at #99 on our top 100 list for 2011, while a lot of others had him a little too high for our taste. At barely 20 years old now, he has seemingly been around for ever in the Mets system. He didn’t make the strides from 2010 to 2011 that we had hoped and his Venezuelan Winter League numbers are not encouraging.But he did keep the K rate very respectable and his walk rate improved slightly. He has an idea at the plate but the power that is supposed to be his calling card just has not materialized yet. A low BABIP of .296 in 2011 – Theres still plenty of time and he may very well bounce back in AA. ETA 2014.
202°. Andrelton Simmons, SS, Braves, 9/04/1989 – Possibly the best defensive infielder in the Carolina League in 2011, Simmons also won the league batting title by hitting .311. There’s some power developing there, and if he puts some muscle on his 6’2″/170lbs frame he may turn into a special player. I suggest watching him closely in 2012 as he could shoot up this chart, assuming that he doesn’t leap-frog the competition for the SS job in Atlanta in 2012. ETA 2013.
210°. Eugenio Suarez, SS, Tigers, 7/18/1991 – This slick fielder is the rare Tiger middle infield prospect that currently shows average to better pop (.176 ISOP in NYP). Right now he’ll just need time to get his feet wet at higher levels. Low-A West Michigan should be his next destination, where there should be a good deal of excitement surrounding this kid. There, we’ll be able to get some first hand analysis and video for this year’s continuously updated 360° Top Prospects list. ETA 2014.
223°. Jose Iglesias, SS, Red Sox, 1/5/1990 – The highest signing bonus in Red Sox history ($6.25 mm), Iglesias is one of the rare top prospects in the Red Sox farm whose defensive ability far outstrips his offensive capability. He’s aggressive at the plate, and though he keeps his strikeout rate acceptable (58k in 356ab, 385pa), he doesn’t take many free passes (21bb). He could hit for average, but we’re not sure if he’s going to develop much power. The power is going to be the deciding factor on where he hits in the lineup once he arrives in Boston for good. He needs another year in the minors, but that may not happen. ETA 2012.
224°. Zack Cozart, SS, Reds, 8/12/1985 – He was cleared to resume full baseball activities beginning in early December. Cozart suffered a season-ending injury to his left (non-throwing) elbow in mid-July and then underwent Tommy John surgery in August. He’s been rehabbing it for 3 months and should enter spring training as the favorite to win the SS job that he was in the process of taking away from the weak competition prior to the injury. He posted a triple slash of ..310/.357/.467 in 323 ab’s at AAA and .324/.324/.810 in 37 ab’s in the majors. Sleeper alert. ETA NOW.
240°. Ronny Rodriguez , SS, Indians, 4/17/1992 – Rodriguez, who signed in 2010, is an athletic SS who is raw defensively at this point. His .246 AVG with 28 doubles, 7 triples, and 11 HR gave him a .203 IsoP, which is impressive for a 19-year-old at any level. While he has speed but isn’t a very good base-runner at this point. When we got the chance to see him, the rawness of his game was apparent but so were the tools. He’s a project but has the tools to become a top prospect. ETA 2015.
245°. Brian Dozier, SS, Twins, 5/15/1987- Dozier had quite a season between the FSL and Eastern League where he hit .320 overall with 33 doubles and 9 HR tossing in 24 SB. He has a high level contact ability and should see Minnesota some time in 2012. He could end up a solid utility MI if he doesn’t enhance his power output because he probably won’t stick at SS long-term with a fringe arm. But it looks as if the Twins are going to give him the shot in Spring and look at his ability to be their every day guy. He’s going to hit and looks like a major league regular, but I hink in the long run he could profile better as a 2B. ETA 2012.
254°. Cito Culver, SS, Yankees, 8/26/1992 – I was one of the biggest naysayers when Culver was drafted in the first round, touting the talent that the Yankees passed on and pointing out that Mason Williams would soon bypass Culver. While much of that has come to be true, Culver has proven a better prospect than I gave him credit for. He handles SS well, has an excellent arm and is becoming a professional hitter already. He struck out just 18.3% of the time with a nice 9.6% walk rate. He still has to refine his switch hitting ability and is a long way off, but he may be better than I thought. ETA 2016.
274°. Orlando Arcia SS Brewers 8/4/1994 – As a 16-year-old in the DSL, Arcia hit .294 with 6 homeruns and walking 30 times and striking out only 20 with 13 stolen bases and a .384/.459/.845 triple slash. Exciting numbers, but tallied up at such an early stage of development in his professional career against equally young competition. Right now, he has an ideal body frame to stay at shortstop, but this youngster could still be growing, so time will tell. He’s a wait’ n’ see prospect for sure, but the results, thus far, are very encouraging. ETA 2016.
280°. Tim Beckham, SS, Rays, 1/27/1990 – Former #1 overall pick of the 2008 draft, is finally making strides as a professional player. Keep in mind that Beckham is just 21 years old and has now reached Triple-A. The lofty expectation set by the draft slot have pushed him almost into obscurity as a failed prospect, but while he may never fill the Superstar expectations, he did hit .271 with 28 doubles, 4 triples and 12 HR while stealing 17 bases over 2 levels. He’s producing like serviceable major league prospect and if the Rays don’t give him a chance soon they may want to give him the chance to bloom somewhere else. But I don’t think they want to see another Josh Hamilton scenario so Beckham may get a chance this season. ETA 2012.
281°. Jonathan Villar, SS, Astros, 5/2/1991 – So much talent with so many glaring weaknesses at the plate. I guess this where our Fantasy Baseball spin kicks in sometimes. Villar is a potential Gold Glover and is fun to watch in the field. So he should probably be higher on this list based on that alone. With the bat he has good power with a .155 IsoP pushed by 23 doubles, 6 triples and 14 HR in 498 AB. Toss in 34 SB and you can see the potential. But a 27% plus K rate with 156 K and just 54 walks there are some serious plate issues. But he’s just 20 years old and already seeing Double-A where he should start in 2012 and possibly see Houston sometime next season. ETA Late 2012.
The 2011 Draftee(s) to Watch in 2012
Brad Miller, SS Mariners 10/18/1989 – The Clemson star hit .415/.458/.528, which included 3B-1/2B-4/RBI-7/R-9/SB-1, with a9/4 K/BB ratio in 53 at bats over 14 games for the Single-A Clinton Lumberjacks of the Midwest League. Miller who plays excellence defense and has a good bat may be what moves SS Nick Franklin over to 3B for the Mariners. With Dustin Ackley anchored at 2B, this seems likely to happen. Depending on what the Mariners do with Franklin and where they do it at is going to determine where Miller starts the 2012 season. With 3B Vinny Catricala and 3B Francisco Martinez in the mix, the Mariners would to seem to have a nice problem to have. The only thing safe to say at this point is that Miller will start out with the High-A High Desert Mavericks of the California League, if not higher.
Christopher Bostick, SS Athletics 3/24/1993 – Pick #1336 is Christopher who? The scouts didn’t really know either as weather in the New York area was horrible from mid to late May, wiping out the only opportunities those scouts would have gotten to see him play. He hit over .500 his senior year and then hit .417/.500/.642 in the New York Collegiate League before signing with the A’s and passing up a full ride to St. John’s University. He hit .442/.482/.654, which included HR-1/3B-1/2B-6/RBI-5/R-13/SB-4, and a 12/3 K/BB ratio in 52 at bats over 14 games with the Athletics of the Rookie Level Arizona League. While 52 at bats doesn’t make a career, it should give the A’s enough motivation to start him off close to his home with the Low-A Vermont Lake Monsters of the New York-Penn League. While it’s unclear if he can stick at SS, he’s got the potential with the bat to progress with the A’s.
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