CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Overthinking It: Brett... (04/18)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Prospects Will Break Y... (04/16)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Prospects Will Break Y... (05/08)
Next Article >>
The BP Wayback Machine... (04/19)

April 18, 2013

Prospects Will Break Your Heart

Checking in On: Shortstops, Part 2

by Jason Parks

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.

a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

In part one of the series, we checked in on the pure shortstops in the minors, the players who stand above the rest with the leather and project to stay at position all the way up the chain. The criterion for inclusion in this particular series was a placement on the Baseball Prospectus 101, a team top 10 list, or a mention as an “On the Rise” candidate for the individual team prospect ranking series, so the pool of talent is by no means the entire ocean. By breaking down these featured prospects, the goal is to highlight the extreme depth at the position in the minors, while also shedding some light on the early season developments of the talent in question.

Part 2 will focus on the players housed in the tier below the pure leather wizards in the minors, but ones who still have the quality to stick around at the position despite some whispers to the contrary. It needs to be remembered just how difficult it is to profile as a shortstop at the highest level, as only a select few can stand above the crowded field of highly skilled individuals and wear the badge of the position. The “Pure Enough” tier features prospects known more for their offensive potential than their defensive heroics, but we shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss their skill at the position just because the profile lacks the cloak of the magus. These combo prospects have some of the highest ceilings in the minors, with impact potential bats and the actions and arms to make plays at a premium position on the diamond.

The Pure-Enough Shortstops

Javier Baez (Cubs)
Placement on BP 101
: 20
Current Level: High-A Daytona
2013 Sample: .207/.242/.483 (13 games; 58 at-bats)
Notes: You can make the case that Baez has the highest offensive ceiling of any shortstop prospect in the game, thanks in large part to his elite bat speed. Baez generates silly amounts of torque in his setup and swing, which can make a baseball have a sad if he finds a way to put the barrel on it. The biggest hurdle has been an immature approach to hitting, which is a very see-ball, hit-ball mentality, and Baez often sees the ball and attempts to hit the ball when he shouldn’t. So far in 2013, the 20-year-old prospect is continuing to show an aggressive approach at the plate, expanding the zone and giving pitchers a roadmap for his exploitation. If he can work himself into better counts and not forecast the fastball timing in his swing, he should find more contact, which would let his near-elite raw power find its way into game action with more consistency. On the defensive side of things, Baez is better than people realize, with whispers of an eventual move to the hot corner but more than enough talent to handle the demands of shortstop; his arm is strong enough to play anywhere on the diamond and the hands are soft and the actions fluid. The range isn’t special, and as he continues to physically mature and add muscle mass, he is a good candidate to lose some lateral quickness and overall speed. He could emerge as a Gold Glove-caliber third baseman thanks to the arm and glove, but if the range holds, he can stick around at shortstop for the foreseeable future.

Addison Russell (Athletics)
Placement on BP 101:
Current Level: High-A Stockton
2013 Sample: .190/.292/.286 (5 Games, 21 at-bats)
Notes: Russell’s a stud, with the potential for a 6 hit tool and 6 power if everything clicks. Coming into his professional career, there were big question marks about his defensive skill set, with a thicker build raising some red flags about range and fluidity of actions at shortstop. But Russell arrived on the scene with a better body than people expected and better all-around chops at the position, not only giving hope that he could stave off a positional switch in the minors, but changing his projection at the position as well. They way it looks right now, Russell is a shortstop and is going to stay a shortstop, with enough arm and glove-work to handle the position. It’s not always silky smooth and easy, but its not awkward and clumsy either, as there is feel involved and a strong work ethic to improve. If the bat does what the bat is projected to do, Russell could develop into one of the top prospects in the game.

Carlos Correa (Astros)
Placement on BP 101:
Current Level: Low-A Quad Cities
2013 Sample: .250/.415/.438 (8 games; 32 at-bats)
Notes: With early coverage being the way it is, not many of my industry sources have been able to put eyes on Correa in his full-season debut. I was on a call about another player when a scout asked me if I had anything good on Correa. He scouted the kid as an amateur and loved him, and had just recently put eyes on him for the first time since he was drafted 1:1 by the Astros last June. While slobbering all over the kid, the scout suggested that Correa’s “Presence Factor” was off the charts, which I quickly told him I was going to steal for my own use on Baseball Prospectus. Presence factor is an ideal way to describe Correa, who might be only 18, but who carries himself like a seasoned veteran, both in terms of in-game approach and work ethic. The raw tools are all there to develop into a superstar talent, with better-than-you-think defensive chops at shortstop and big raw power, but the glue that will hold the monster together is makeup, and Correa wears his like a number on his back. You don’t have to be a scout to sit in the stands and recognize that something separates Correa from the majority of players on the field. While it’s clear that he’s a raw talent with rough edges and several developmental obstacles to overcome, it’s also clear that there is something special about the prospect. Presence Factor: Special.

Trevor Story (Rockies)
Placement on BP 101:
Current Level: High-A Modesto
2013 Sample: .136/.255/.250 (12 games, 44 at-bats)
Notes: Baseball Prospectus ranked Story as the top prospect in the Rockies organization, and 34th overall in baseball, which is crazy praise given the depth of talent in the minors. Story stands out for me because of his offensive potential coupled with his ability to play shortstop, and the cocktail is made even more potent by an instinctual connection to the game. Story is a baseball player with baseball skills, and despite a slow start to the year, the promise remains. His swing features some miss and he has a tendency to drop the shoulder and load up for power, but he understands the strike zone and isn’t immune to taking a walk. He needs to improve against secondary stuff and his overall approach needs work, which means staying back on the ball, shortening the swing with two strikes and using more of an all-fields approach. On defense, Story isn’t Ozzie Smith, but he flashes fundamental skills and has a plus arm, and looks like a shortstop at the highest level. As a 20-year-old in an advanced league, Story is likely to struggle, especially if the menu calls for an abundance of breaking balls. But he has the skills and the instincts to adjust, and whatever stains happen to appear on the 2013 stat sheet won’t be permanent.

Chris Owings (DBacks)
Placement on BP 101:
Current Level: Triple-A Reno
2013 Sample: .391/.435/.563 (14 games; 64 at-bats)
Notes: Last season, Owings crushed in the California League and then struggled in his first taste of Double-A, the level that helps to separate the players from the pretenders in the minors. I fully expected Owings to return to the level in 2013 for offensive adjustment, but a jump to Triple-A was in the cards, and so far, Owings is playing up to the challenge. It’s a very hitter-friendly environment and the small sample is inflated even more as a result, but what matters is that Owings is putting good wood to the ball. It’s a gamer profile, with a solid-average skill set that can play up in game action, and Owings isn’t likely to develop into a star player at the highest level. But he can play shortstop, he fits the mold of a quality no. 2 hitter, with good situational skills and some pop, and he brings it night after night. With Gregorius ahead of him in the pecking order and limited experience in the upper minors, Owings isn’t likely to make a splash at the highest level in 2013. But if he keeps grinding and improving with the stick, he could force his way into the discussion for 2014.

Outside the 101

Orlando Calixte (Royals)
Placement on (updated) Royals Top 10:
Current Level: Double-A Northwest Arkansas
2013 Sample: .205/.279/.282 (10 games; 39 at-bats)
Notes: Calixte is far from a refined product, but the bat has juice in it and the defensive profile is at least a 5 with a chance to be a little more. Calixte has a plus arm, plus range, and enough playmaking electricity to show some flash, but the glove isn’t consistent and can play down from the raw grade. It’s hard to peg his exact potential because his performances often feature the schizophrenic characteristics of a much younger player, and its difficult to see what player is left standing at the top of the developmental arc. I really like the pop in the bat and he has the chops to stick at shortstop, so a little extra patience in the developmental ups and downs is required.

Orlando Arcia (Brewers)
Placement on Brewers Top 10:
On the Rise
Current Level: Low-A Wisconsin
2013 Sample: .190/.205/.262 (10 games; 42 at-bats)
Notes: Recently profiled in a Monday Morning Ten Pack, Arcia turned heads this spring and brings a formidable skill set to the table. The 18-year-old is smooth in the field, with clean actions and a good arm, and at the plate, shows good hittability and command of the bat. He’s certainly not off to a roaring start in his full-season debut, but this is a kid who not only missed last season with a broken ankle but is making the jump from the Dominican Summer League all the way to full-season ball. To make matters even more complicated, Arcia is a Venezuelan kid with a professional resume limited to the Dominican Republic and the Brewers’ team complex in Arizona, and now he’s in an environment where playing under lights is the norm and snow accumulation can postpone games. Needless to say, Arcia has some adjustments to make, but the raw tools make him an interesting prospect, one who is on rise in the Brewers’ farm.

Eugenio Suarez (Tigers)
Placement on Tigers Top 10:
Current Level: High-A Lakeland
2013 Sample: .264/.333/.302 (13 games; 53 at-bats)
Notes: Suarez isn’t a flashy talent, utilizing a contact-heavy approach at the plate and workmanlike qualities in the field. The glove is solid-average to plus, and he makes the fundamental plays in a fundamental fashion. The arm and range aren’t special but they are effective, and Suarez should be able to play left-side defense for a very long time. The bat isn’t going to make him a name prospect, but he can put the bat on the ball and has an approach, so his profile can offer more than one dimension. In the end, he might be a better fit for a utility role rather than a major-league regular, but he has the type of skills that play at the highest level. 

Deven Marrero (Red Sox)
Placement on Red Sox Top 10:
On the Rise
Current Level: High-A Salem
2013 Sample: .286/.405/.457 (10 games; 35 at-bats)
Notes: Marrero is the rare college shortstop who projects to stay at the position at the highest level, with solid-average defensive tools across the board. He’s not an impact bat, but has some contact ability and doubles power, and he isn’t going to give away at-bats with an overly aggressive or careless approach. He looks good so far in High-A, doing his thing with the contact and approach and playing solid-average to plus defense, making all the plays that he can get to. It might only be a second-division profile, but legit shortstops with something to offer on offense will always have value.

Jose Vinicio (Red Sox)
Placement on Red Sox Top 10 List:
On the Rise
Current Level: Low-A Greenville
2013 Sample: .263/.333/.368 (10 games; 38 at-bats)
Notes: The Red Sox gave Vinicio close to $2 million to sign back in 2009, mostly on the strength of his precocious defensive abilities and projection at the plate. The glove is pretty slick, with fluid actions and plus potential with more repetition, and the arm and range both grade out as solid-average or higher. At the plate, the 19-year-old can make contact and shows bat speed, so more pop is likely once the body gets stronger. In a return trip to the Sally League Vinicio is doing Vinicio-like things, struggling from the right side of the plate and being overly aggressive, but flashing leather and showing an impressive bat from the left side. The ceiling is high, but the floor is low, and this could go a number of different ways.

Yadiel Rivera (Brewers)
Placement on Brewers Top 10:
On the Rise
Current Level: High-A Brevard
2013 Sample: .188/.204/.229 (13 games; 48 at-bats)
Notes: I was able to watch Rivera in action this spring, and I was quite impressed with his defensive skills and underwhelmed by his natural ability to hit. It’s always so confusing when a player with great hands in the field can’t display those hands at the plate, but Rivera didn’t control the bat very well and he couldn’t square up velocity, even when it was telegraphed and left out over the plate. The approach doesn’t help his cause, as he expands and chases, and has a tendency to swing and miss both in and out of the zone. As impressive as the glove is, and I would put a 6 on his future defensive profile, the hit tool might suppress any power potential that exists, and really limits the range of his prospect potential.

Eric Stamets (Angels)
Placement on Angels Top 10:
Current Level: High-A Inland Empire
2013 Sample: .245/.286/.302 (13 games; 53 at-bats)
Notes: A few scouts tried to make the case that Stamets belonged in the pure shortstop tier, and perhaps he does. The glove is above average, with soft hands and smooth actions. Everything is very easy, which points to the instincts at play, which also help the solid-average to plus glove/arm combo play up in game action. He’s an easy plus runner and perhaps a 7, which gives him range in the field and a catalytic dimension to his offensive game. He’s not a great hitter, and projecting the bat to a 5 might be optimistic. But he’s a mature defender with a lot of speed, and if he can just hit a little he can eventually carve out a career as a utility option.

Marco Hernandez (Cubs)
Placement on Cubs Top 10:
On the Rise
Current Level: Low-A Kane County
2013 Sample: .200/.237/.257 (10 games; 35 at-bats)
Notes: On paper, it looks like a utility profile, with left-side chops and an iffy bat, but it’s too early to put Hernandez in that box. The swing is contact oriented but not empty, as he can drive the ball when he puts good wood to it. The biggest problem at the full-season level is that he’s not putting the barrel on the ball with any consistency, and when he does happen upon contact, its weak. He can makes his bones on his glove, as it profiles in the solid-average to plus range, and he shouldn’t have a problem sticking on the left side of the infield. But he will have to hit if he wants to advance as a prospect, and early reports from the full-season level aren’t very promising.

Part 3 up next 

Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

35 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links


I'm a little surprised that some of the non-top 101 guys aren't categorised as pure shortstops. I guess I'd seen guys like Vinicio and Marrero as significantly better defenders than the elite prospects that you mentioned. Is there a cut-off on a potential glove grade to be pure (I was kind of surprised you were talking about guys who might have a 6 glove as only being pure enough), or is it more to do with grace and fluidity and things like that?

Apr 18, 2013 03:20 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

I wouldn't classify guys like Vinicio and Marrero as significantly better than the shortstops featured in part 1. Both have chops and perhaps a case, but the line had to be drawn somewhere. Marrero is a solid-avg to plus type, but those featured in part 1 had even higher projections than that. The grace in which the position is played will always be a factor, as fluid, athletic movements tease the eye more than movements that lack fluidity. Subjective stimulation. Unfortunately, some of the shortstops that make all the fundamental plays without the flash aren't viewed in the same manner as shortstops that make the abnormal plays even if they happen to scuff a few of the routine ones.

Apr 18, 2013 07:13 AM

Dorsyss Paulino?

Apr 18, 2013 05:46 AM
rating: 1
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Less-than-Pure. Part 3

Apr 18, 2013 07:03 AM

I love the "stains on the stat sheet" line!

Apr 18, 2013 06:19 AM
rating: 0

I thought Orlando Arcia was Oswaldo's brother. How did they end up from different countries?

Apr 18, 2013 06:53 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

He is Venezuelan. Sent that fix into editing.

Apr 18, 2013 07:01 AM

That makes complete sense, but both MiLB.com and BBRef list Orlando as a Dominican, from someplace called Anaco.

Apr 18, 2013 07:04 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Anaco is in Venezuela. Home of Miguel Cairo.

Apr 18, 2013 07:15 AM

There you go. Thanks for that!

Apr 18, 2013 08:26 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Ben Lindbergh
BP staff


Apr 18, 2013 07:04 AM

Xander Bogaerts?

Apr 18, 2013 06:59 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Part 3.

Apr 18, 2013 07:02 AM

Did I miss Part 3, or is it still coming?

Apr 30, 2013 06:16 AM
rating: 0

What are your thoughts on the Cardinals Breyvil Valera?

Apr 18, 2013 07:14 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Reports are mixed on both the glove and bat, but he makes a lot of contact. More of a 2B.

Apr 18, 2013 08:12 AM

Can't remember if he was 'on the rise' or not, but know he didn't crack the M's top ten, but, well, Brad Miller?

Apr 18, 2013 08:00 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

He didn't make the cut on the team list because I was infatuated with teenaged pitchers, but I can still profile him. He was included on the Mariners 'Factors on the Farm" section. I was able to watch Miller a lot this spring, and I like him more than Franklin. Neither prospect is a classic shortstop, but I think Miller will end up as the better all-around player, and I'll profile him in Part 3.

Apr 18, 2013 08:08 AM

Tim Beckham? (Part 6 - the island of misfit middle infield prospects?)

Apr 18, 2013 08:21 AM
rating: 8
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Excellent idea!

Apr 18, 2013 08:23 AM

I want to see a prospect version of the Breakfast Club, personally.

Apr 18, 2013 08:54 AM
rating: 2
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

I am really struggling to understand the distinction between pure shortstops and pure-enough shortstops. Some guys who were deemed "pure" shortstops when they were coming up--Yuniesky Betancourt comes to mind--turn out to stink, whereas other guys who lack one or more of the tools of "pure" shortstops--I'm thinking of Hanley Ramirez or Derek Jeter--are able to stick at the position at the MLB level due to the force of their will, bat or reputations. Despite his shortcomings in the field, I would still rather have Hanley Ramirez than Jose Iglesias as my team's starting SS, and I imagine all 30 teams feel the same way.

But maybe it's just a gimmick to spice up the series and I should take it (and myself) less seriously.

Apr 18, 2013 10:03 AM
rating: -4
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

As I tried to explain in the opening paragraphs, some shortstops are no-doubt shortstops all the way up the chain, some will encourage whispers of a future positional move, and some are definitely going to have to move off the position at some point at the highest level. Derek Jeter is a very good example of a pure shortstop, as he was projected to stay at the position from amateur status through the professional ranks, thanks to his elite instincts and well above-average glove.

Hanley Ramirez and Jose Iglesias aren't in the same universe when it comes to defense, and nobody suggested that Iglesias was a better all-around talent than Ramirez. I'm not sure which article you were reading.

I put the shortstops in defensive tiers based on their defensive skill-sets and the likelihood that they would stick at the position, which I thought made sense because the majority of up-the-middle talent in the minors eventually has to move. I don't think the structure is a gimmick; rather, just a means of grouping the talent that puts a specific focus on the characteristics of the position they play.

Apr 18, 2013 10:15 AM

No such thing as a sure-fire SS. You only have to look as far as last year. Profar is already moving to 2B and Machado went straight to 3B. People can say that, "he has the tools..." but that, long with 99 cents will get you a sausage biscuit before 10:30 at McDonalds. As far as I am concerned, there are guys like Wilmer Flores - no chance in hell to stick at SS and the rest. As with every other job opportunity in the world, it is a combination of circumstance and ability. I have seen defensive metrics which tell a story of Derek Jeter being the worst SS of all time but he will retire as a Hall of Famer at the position.

Apr 19, 2013 09:20 AM
rating: -2
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Profar and Machado both moved off the position for organizational need, not defensive deficiency.

Apr 20, 2013 09:34 AM

Does Arismendy Alcantara fit into part 3, or is he to much of a tweener with both the bat and glove?

Apr 18, 2013 10:40 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

No; he wasn't included in the BP 101 and wasn't featured on the team's prospect rankings.

Apr 18, 2013 10:53 AM

"Presence Factor"

It's not like the world of scouting was running low on nebulously defined, quasi-conceptualized non-ideas.

Apr 18, 2013 11:07 AM
rating: -1
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

I happen to like it. If you watch a lot of baseball in person, especially at the lower levels, presence is an attribute that you look for.

Apr 18, 2013 11:15 AM
David Laurila

Of the shortstops covered in these articles, is is safe to say Bogaerts has most closed the gap between his offense and defense? Whether he could remain at the position was once a big question, and now he's looking very much like a shortstop -- and scuffling somewhat [albeit in a small sample size] with the bat.

Apr 18, 2013 11:29 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

I think so. From those polled for this series, the defensive reviews on Bogaerts were still mixed, but I think he's improved and is better (and has a better chance to stick around) than originally thought. I don't think he's ever going to be a premium defender, but I think he can play the position for a few years at the major league level. I would classify him as a "less-than-pure" shortstop, but that doesn't mean he can't pull it off.

Apr 18, 2013 11:37 AM

I have a big man crush on Story, but the K's seem to be eating him alive right now. Hoping he does turn it around, its still early.

Apr 18, 2013 19:18 PM
rating: 0

Has the ship sailed completely on Dee Gordon? He seems to be developing some patience to go along with his speed driven BABIP.

Is his baserunning and glove good enough that he would be an asset with a 260/320 BA/OBP?

Or is he spinning around the utility infielder bowl?

Apr 19, 2013 04:55 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

He's not prospect eligible, so he wasn't included in the rankings. Always had the speed and the glove, but the strength at the plate just hasn't been there. Not sure it shows up. He's probably looking at a utility future, which is a shame because he has very loud tools on defense and on-base.

Apr 19, 2013 06:01 AM
Karl Hungus

I have been able to see correa 6 times this season due to midwest league scheduling quirks sending him to kane county early and often. If i saw him at a bar i would push aside any woman in the way and stammer a sheepish hello i like his "presence" so much. He is so outsanding hedominates warm up tosses before the game. He towers over his teammates and you cant help be drawn to his presence. First game i saw him he hit a towering homer and vertically leaped 30 inches easy to snow cone a line drive. I watched javy baez at least a dozen times and correa and in a small sample he makes baez look like a piker. I still think baez has more impact potential than castro so my Correa crush runs deep.

Apr 21, 2013 20:49 PM
rating: 1
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
Premium Article Overthinking It: Brett... (04/18)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Prospects Will Break Y... (04/16)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Prospects Will Break Y... (05/08)
Next Article >>
The BP Wayback Machine... (04/19)

Premium Article Some Projection Left: Ask The Industry: Seco...
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: July 3, 2015
Premium Article Weekly Wrap: July 3, 2015
Premium Article Rubbing Mud: The Variation of All Things
Premium Article What You Need to Know: July 3, 2015
Premium Article Pitching Backward: Manny Happy Returns
Premium Article Daisy Cutter: Grandal's Ambitions

Premium Article In A Pickle: Torii of Relativity
Premium Article What You Need to Know: Going on Strike(outs)
Premium Article Perfect Game Presents: Updated 2013 Top 100 ...
Fantasy Article Five to Watch: Contact Watch!
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Thursday, April 18
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Early Lineup Movers
Premium Article Daily Roundup: Around the League: April 18, ...

2013-05-08 - Fringe Average Podcast: Episode 5
2013-04-24 - Fringe Average Podcast: Fringe Average: Epis...
2013-04-23 - Premium Article The Call-Up: Bruce Rondon
2013-04-18 - Premium Article Prospects Will Break Your Heart: Checking in...
2013-04-18 - Fringe Average Podcast: Fringe Average: Epis...
2013-04-16 - Premium Article Prospects Will Break Your Heart: Checking in...
2013-04-12 - Premium Article Prospects Will Break Your Heart: Checking In...

2013-06-20 - Premium Article Prospects Will Break Your Heart: The Minors:...
2013-06-04 - Premium Article Prospects Will Break Your Heart: Poll the In...
2013-05-08 - Premium Article Prospects Will Break Your Heart: Checking In...
2013-04-18 - Premium Article Prospects Will Break Your Heart: Checking in...
2013-04-16 - Premium Article Prospects Will Break Your Heart: Checking in...
2013-04-12 - Premium Article Prospects Will Break Your Heart: Checking In...
2013-04-10 - Premium Article Prospects Will Break Your Heart: Chat Accoun...