A pack of elite shortstops is behind the position's resurgence, but there are some very noteworthy contributors beyond the cream of the crop.
Thirteen shortstops currently rank among the top 100 players overall per Sportsline’s standard rankings, including 10 among the top 50 overall, and those numbers mark a significant leap forward in status for six-spotter fantasy performance. Just eight earned top-100 status per our valuations last year, with only Xander Bogaerts cracking the top 50. The position’s renaissance has been driven by some who were expected to usher in a new age of relevance for the position, to be sure; Xander Bogaerts, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, and pleasant surprise of re-eligibility Manny Machado all pepper the ranks of double-digit overall value. But there has been an interesting second wave of guys who were decidedly not expected to provide that kind of value, who have stepped up and taken their games to new levels this year. A full six of those 13 shortstops—yes, almost half—have produced top-100 value by outperforming their average draft positions by at least 200 spots. That’s league-winning surplus value, right there. So let’s take a look at that crew and see if we can’t figure out whether their meteoric respective rises represent new normals, or whether managers who’ve reaped their rewards this year will be best off selling high before keeper deadlines this winter.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Yadier Alvarez, J.D. Davis, Brendan Rodgers, and Patrick Weigel.
Prospect of the Day:
Yadier Alvarez, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (Low-A Great Lakes): 5 IP, 3 BB, 8 K.
Alvarez responded to giving up three runs in a start for the first time as a professional by bouncing back with five no-hit innings in this turn. He’s allowed just 19 hits in 26 2/3 Midwest League innings, while punching out 42, and as a totally unbiased observer of the California League I can say with abject certainty that it’s probably time for him to jump up to the next level in spite of some notable inconsistencies repeating and getting downhill consistently.
Background: Swanson wasn’t a household name coming out of Marietta High School in Georgia, and his strong commitment to Vanderbilt saw him slide to the 38th round of the 2012 draft, where he (obviously) didn’t sign. He didn’t play much his freshman season, but after earning the starting job at second base as as sophomore, he quickly established himself as one of the best players in the SEC. He made a seamless transition to shortstop the following year, and he went from being a potential top-10 pick to the overwhelming favorite to be the first-overall pick, which is exactly where Arizona took him. After a strong season in the Northwest League, Swanson was inexplicably dealt to Atlanta that winter in the Miller deal. After dominating at HIgh-A Carolina, Swanson more than held his own at Double-A Mississippi; earning a spot in the 2016 Futures Game, and now a trip to Atlanta to finish the 2016 season.
Notes on Austin Bain, Nick Dunn, A.J. Graffanino, and more.
Austin Bain, RHP, Louisiana State University – Square shoulders, compact, some room to fill out; semi-wind, quick shuffle into high leg kick, stiffness in takeaway; mild stab, steep arm angle to high three-quarter; drop-and-drive, deceleration and drift into stride, inconsistent balance, significant spine tilt, struggles to get downhill consistently with force; fastball 86-89 relatively straight, lacks a ton of plane, below-average command, ball wanders up in the zone; changeup 79-81, solid tumble, late diving action, consistent arm speed, flashes above-average potential; slider 76-78, lacks depth, will roll it, not a ton of bite; struggled with balance and rhythm in the stretch, lots of misses up in the zone; deliberate pace with runners on, holds the ball to try and counter slow stretch delivery, 1.38-1.5.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Alec Hansen, Joey Gallo, Richard Urena, and Johan Mieses.
Prospect of the Day:
Alec Hansen, RHP, Chicago White Sox (Rookie Great Falls): 6 IP, R (0 ER), 3 H, 3 BB, 10 K
It’s not entirely clear to me why Hansen is still pitching in Rookie ball, as his second consecutive double-digit strikeout game pushes him to 63 punchouts and 12 hits allowed in his first 38 2/3 professional innings. His arm action is as scary as his numbers are devastating, but if—big if—he can command the ball in a starting role, he can do wonderful things.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Dylan Cozens, Tyler Beede, Sean Newcomb, and Eric Jenkins.
Prospect of the Day:
Dylan Cozens, OF, Philadelphia Phillies (Double-A Reading): 3-4, BB, 3 R, 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBI.
So nice, let’s do it twice. If you can explain the physiological click that happens sometimes to set hitters off on rampages like Cozens’ current run, well, you’re probably better at science than I am. After leaving the yard thrice on Wednesday, he hit two more dingers yesterday, mixing in a triple for good measure. That’ll do, yeah. Scouts remain skeptical it translates, and my one live look revealed can-see-it holes in the swing. But all I really know is that homeboy has legit power and he really, really likes hitting in Reading.
Wilson reviews the first impressions of a handful of prospects selected in this year's FYPD.
I’m in the middle of my home league’s midseason minor-league draft right now, and that has me thinking front and center about how this year’s draft class has looked in their professional debuts. As a brief aside before we dive in, I can’t recommend this format of prospect drafting strongly enough. This is a 16-team league with 11 minor-league slots per team, so 176 prospects are rostered at any given time. We hold two prospect drafts annually, one in February as the off-season lists are rolling out, and one right now, after the Rule 4 draft and opening of the international signing period on July 2nd. The specter of the mid-season draft beginning right after our trading deadline encourages more deals. It gives us an opportunity to pounce on the new talent while it’s still fresh. And we can pop the pop-up guys before they jump onto off-season lists. Then in the winter we get to clean up on the rest of the draft class that makes some noise after signing. It’s a wonderful way to play.
Anyway, back in the aftermath of the first-year player draft in June, our noble overlord Bret Sayre unveiled his Top 40 Dynasty League Prospects for the recently professionalized players of this class. We’re all of seven weeks removed from that list dropping, so realistically it is way, way too early in the process to go changing our pre-draft opinions on players. But that doesn’t mean we can’t start gathering some info on the early returns, for both the stars of the draft and the guys who might not have gone in the first round, but who may quickly emerge as interesting fantasy players.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Francis Martes, Lewis Brinson, Ben Lively, and Luke Weaver.
Prospect of the Day: Francis Martes, RHP, Houston Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi): 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, BB, 12 K.
Martes was cruising along into the seventh before yielding a two-run shot to Josh Van Meter, his final batter of the night. Since the end of May, he’s whiffed 76, walked 20, and allowed just 48 hits across 63 2/3 innings. The fastball-curve combo is one of the best in the minors, and it’s important to remember that he’s doing all of this as the only qualifying 20-year-old starting pitcher at the Double-A level. And you were worried about him after the first six weeks of the season…
Background: Benintendi wasn’t a complete unknown coming out of high school, but he wasn’t taken too seriously as a draft prospect in 2013 (though the Reds did pop him in the 31st round), and he honored his commitment to the University of Arkansas. After a solid but certainly not spectacular freshman campaign, Benintendi shined in 2015, putting up monster numbers in the loaded SEC conference and establishing himself as one of the best collegiate bats in the country. After Boston scooped him up with the seventh pick in the draft, he destroyed pitching at both of his professional stops (Lowell and Greenville) and earned a trip to High-A Salem to start 2016. After beating the crap out of that pitching, Benintendi was hitting .295/.357/.515 in Double-A Portland, and now will get a chance to maim pitching at the highest level.