For previous editions, follow the links below:
- Get to Know: Catcher Prospects
- Get to Know: First Base Prospects
- Get to Know: Second Base Prospects
- Get to Know: Third Base Prospects
Ahh, shortstop prospects: We’re finally getting to the good stuff. If you dislike a blurb about a guy in the NL, blame Craig. If you dislike a blurb about a guy in the AL, rethink your stance because Ben wrote that and he is good and right.
Addison Russell, Cubs
For someone who is in the inner circle of elite prospects, Russell draws more questions than you’d think. For some, he’s a lock to stay at shortstop (skill-wise), and has the chance for a 60 hit/60 power OFP at the plate. That’s a dominant fantasy player, even if the power manifests itself in doubles more than it does in home runs. Even his detractors concede he’s likely to stick at the position and hit well for a shortstop, but they question how loudly the tools will really play. So it’s a question of value, as no one argues the talent level. Is he going to justify the high-round selections and the hype, or is he going to be useful, but not a difference-maker? The hedge is that he’ll be a high-level fantasy asset in his peak seasons while still being an everyday starter type in his “down” seasons. That’s nothing to look down on, even if the hype makes him out to be more.
Francisco Lindor, Indians
It’s possible for someone to be a better MLB prospect than a fantasy prospect and to still be a really good fantasy prospect. That concept seems to elude some owners, but Lindor profiles as a very solid fantasy contributor from shortstop, and while he lacks the insane upside of some of the other guys on this list, you could argue he has the highest or second-highest floor. Still just 21 years old, Lindor projects to hit for a good average, steal 20-plus bases a year, hit high enough in a batting order to post meaningful run totals, and grow into low-double-digit homer power. He might not be in line for many top-five fantasy shortstop finishes, but he’s in for a ton of top-10 years and is the type of “set it and forget it” option dynasty owners dream of. The floor here is Erick Aybar, but the ceiling is a whole career’s worth of modern day (read: slower) Jose Reyes.
Alen Hanson, Pirates
He’s not the prospect he was after he slashed .309/.381/.528 back in Low-A, but that doesn’t mean he’s not worth keeping tabs on. In fact, Hanson has probably lost less fantasy value that real life value over that time, as the questions on his ultimate defensive home (SS or 2B) matter less in our realm. He’s going to hit, and while he might not ever slug .500-plus again, it’s relatively rare to find middle infielders that do. Odds are that when he’s ready, he’ll be a helpful piece in shallower leagues and a core contributor in deeper mixed and -only leagues.
Ketel Marte, Mariners
Marte is a guy I feel like even some hardcore dynasty leaguers haven’t heard of yet, but that should change. The 21-year-old hit .302/.329/.404 in Double-A last season, and then hit quite well in 19 games at Triple-A. Power isn’t a part of his game—like, at all—but he’s got some bat-to-ball ability, he’s a plus runner, and he’s now on the precipice of being on the precipice of a call to the majors. The only problem here is that Marte profiles much better as a second baseman than as a shortstop defensively, and with Robinson Cano signed until the year 4359, it could be tough for Marte to find playing time in Seattle. That being said, moving away from Safeco is a positive for any hitter, even one who doesn’t even remotely profile as a slugger. Loving Jose Peraza and not at least liking Marte would be hypocritical of me (pot calling the Ketel black), and Marte is a sneaky borderline top-150 dynasty league prospect in my book. You could say Ketel won me over, and that he’s worth a shot late in dynasty drafts.
2016 and Beyond
Carlos Correa, Astros
For fantasy purposes, Correa is basically a remix of Xander Bogaerts. He’s got a potential plus-hit, plus-power bat, there’s a good chance he can stave off a move to third base early in his career, he’s impressed with his approach in the minors and he’s progressed quite quickly at this point in his career. In fact, if it wasn’t for a fractured fibula that ended Correa’s season after 293 very successful Cal League plate appearances, there’s a good chance we’d be talking about him as a name for 2015 instead of listing him down here. Correa’s power potential has yet to truly manifest itself in games, and given his serious leg injury and the way he projects to fill out, speed may become less and less a part of the projected package. But he’s a clear-cut top-three dynasty league prospect, he’ll be ready fairly soon, contextual factors will be in his favor and he has all the tools needed to profile as the best fantasy shortstop in the game someday. Don’t expect outright dominance right away, but expect it by his second or third MLB season.
Corey Seager, Dodgers
Seager is being groomed for a role in 2016, already having spent time at Double-A. Three-quarters of the Dodgers infield will hit free agency come the end of this season, including the entire left side. Seager has long been thought to be too big for the position—at his listed height/weight, he’d be the largest shortstop in history—but he has good instincts, a strong arm, and smooth actions in the field. His range is lacking for the position, but the Dodgers of yore showed a willingness to tolerate poor range for the offensive payoff during the Hanley years, and it’s possible the new regime might do the same. Alternatively because he’s otherwise sound, they might feel they can hide his range issues with positioning. Either way, Seager is a future impact bat at third or short, showing easy power, good bat speed, and a plan of attack at the plate. There’s plenty of swing-and-miss to his game, but he makes up for it with the requisite thump. He’s long been sold as a stronger version of his brother Kyle, who is already one of the better third basemen in the league.
J.P. Crawford, Phillies
Crawford suffers what I’m going to dub “Lindor syndrome” in that he’s declared a “better in real life” prospect (which is true) and that causes him to get overlooked as a fantasy asset. He’s a lock to stay at shortstop, but doesn’t carry the thunder of the two names above him in his bat. Still, he’ll contribute in stolen bases, batting average, and should be able to net low-double digit home runs once he grows into his frame. He already makes consistent hard contact, and tagged whacked eight home runs in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, despite being several years younger than his competition. He’s unlikely to be a top-three option at the position, but for dynasty leaguers, this is a guy you can grab and plug into your lineup for a decade without ever feeling bad about it.
Tim Anderson, White Sox
If you miss out on one of the Big Three shortstop prospects and want to go for upside, this is your guy. There’s the potential for Anderson to perform as one of, if not the, best fantasy shortstops in the game at his peak. He’s got a plus-plus run tool, plus potential hit tool and the potential for above-average power. Unfortunately he doesn’t know how to use his legs or his pop yet, he’s got an aversion to walks and he’s far from a lock to stick at shortstop. There are a whole bunch of potential outcomes here, from a 2013 Jean Segura-esque force to a 2014 Lorenzo Cain-like outfielder. Unless he’s totally exploited by the more advanced sequencing in the upper minors, though, Anderson is someone you’re going to want to own regardless of his MLB outcome.
Amed Rosario, Mets
The recipient of the highest international bonus in club history, the Mets have challenged Rosario with aggressive assignment since he signed two years ago. He performed with aplomb during his most recent campaign, slashing .289/.337/.380 in short-season Brooklyn at only 18 years old. There’s a chance that Rosario shifts to third base down the line thanks to a solid frame, but his arm could be an impact weapon and help him stick at the more valuable spot. It’s likely the Mets will give him every chance to stick at shortstop, so don’t worry too much about his positional value just yet. Rosario has some of the biggest growth potential in terms of prospect lists, both real and fantasy, thanks to quick hands that generate impressive bat speed, and allow him to show more power than you might think given his current lank. Long term, we’re looking at a player who could have three league-average offensive tools while playing a premium position.
Daniel Robertson, Rays
If you’re looking for a high probability player with a well-rounded skill set from this group, consider Robertson, who lacks some of the sex appeal of the higher-upside names around him but is a good bet to be a productive major leaguer in fairly short order. These are Cal League stats, so take them with a grain of salt, but Robertson hit .310/.402/471 in 642 PA last season, hitting 15 homers and nabbing four steals. He doesn’t have big power and might not run a ton in the majors, but it’s tough not to like Robertson’s approach (11.2 percent walk rate to 14.5 percent strikeout rate) and while he might not stick at shortstop, he will stick in the infield. He could easily be headed for a Jed Lowrie-esque career, perhaps with a bit less power and a bit of a stronger hit tool. That might not sound like a terribly promising outcome, but if you think of the good Lowrie, Robertson becomes worthy of your attention.
Trea Turner, Padres/Nationals
The long-term outlook doesn’t change much for Turner despite the likely 3-4 month delay before he gets back into game situations, as the Padres wait until he’s eligible to be traded to the Nationals. It could affect his timetable to the majors, which was on an aggressive schedule as a college product who had excelled in the lower minors already. Turner boasts high end speed, grading out as a 70 on the scouting scale and has enough feel at the plate to think he could manage a league-average hit tool, if he can address the length in his swing. That long swing does provide pop at times, but the overall projection is fringy at best, and shouldn’t be anticipated as a major part of his game. While he tore up the Midwest League after signing, the holes in Turner’s swing will likely be exploited as he traverses the upper levels of the minors. Ideally, we’d like to see his speed in play at the top of the order, but it’s possible that his troubles with contact will push him toward the bottom third.
Raul Mondesi Jr., Royals
Mondesi hit just .211/.256/.354 in 472 PA last season, but he did so as an 18-year-old in High-A, an insanely aggressive assignment, even for someone with Mondesi’s natural talent. If you read the BP scouting report on Mondesi, it’s hard not to fall in love, what with a 50-or-better projection on his hit, power, and run tools. However, as we’ve stressed many times throughout this series, you don’t get extra points for “good for his age” in our game, and Mondesi is years and years away from being an impact fantasy player. Even if he takes the rest of the minor leagues by storm and reaches the majors in, say, 2018, he’s unlikely to have fully grown into his power and unless his approach dramatically improves, he may very well be a liability offensively early in his career. Mondesi is still a top-100 fantasy prospect because of the upside, but you’ll need to play the long game if you want to employ his services.
Franklin Barreto, Athletics
One of they key pieces going back to Oakland in the Josh Donaldson trade, Barreto entered the national conscious as a big-time prospect this offseason and his fantasy value has risen in accordance. The soon-to-be 19-year-old hit .311/.384/.481 in Low-A last season, going 29-for-34 in stolen bases in 328 PA. On the one hand, teenage shortstop prospects who’ve yet to experience life in full-season ball quite often make for fantasy pyrite. Barreto isn’t a lock to stick at short and isn’t a lock to refine his approach enough to maximize his tools. On the other hand, Barreto projects as a five-category fantasy factor if it all clicks, batting near the top of a lineup and making an impact with his legs. There’s top-five fantasy SS upside here, but Barreto could just as well end up a frustrating OF4.
Nick Gordon, Twins
The fourth-overall pick from the 2014 draft, Gordon’s a potential well rounded fantasy shortstop capable of contributing meaningfully across all five fantasy categories, with the possible exception of power. He doesn’t project as a particularly fast mover, but Gordon is a lock to stay at shortstop, has the sort of hit/run tool combination that should lead him to bat near the top of the order, and offers a nice balance of floor and upside. Expect a slow and steady crawl up dynasty-league rankings over the next few years, but don’t go crazy based on his draft slot or his last name.
Orlando Arcia, Brewers
Think “Alcides Escobar with a tick less speed, and a tick more power.” The younger brother of Minnesota’s Oswaldo, the two couldn’t be more different. While Oswaldo makes his bones at the plate, boasting intriguing power potential and a penchant for striking out, Orlando’s value will come from his quality defense at a high-value position, and his ability to make contact. He supplements his borderline single-digit strikeout rate with a solid approach at the plate that should yield close-to-league-average walk rates in time. He’s not a big guy, so it’s possible those rates dip at pitchers challenge him early on, but he has the ability to work the gaps, and pitchers will adjust. He just flourished in the Florida State League, not a feat to be overlooked, and it’s possible his prospect star is on the rise as people begin to respect the offensive potential.
Ozhaino Albies, Braves
One of the better prospect names around, Albies has the potential to pair plus-plus speed with three other average-or-better tools, with power being the only thing lacking in his skillset. A polished player at the age of 18, we could see Albies shoot up prospect lists assuming he handles the lower minors easily. His fantasy ceiling is relatively capped though, as a good-hitting speedster who lacks power, not unlike multiple other names on this list. He’s not a zero in the power department, to be clear, but he’s not going to make a meaningful contribution there either. As long as he shows that the bat won’t be knocked out of his hands, the rest of his game should flourish. Again, he’s going to get a lot of attention for his production, and his age relative to level, but be aware that his size (5-foot-9, 150 pounds) limits the potential of his overall growth, and thus caps his ceiling at “very good”, but not “elite.”
Others: Jorge Mateo, NYY; Trevor Story, COL; Franchy Cordero, SD; Alex Blandino, CIN; Jacob Gatewood, MIL; Gleyber Torres, CHC; Willy Adames, TB; Jose Rondon, SD; Orlando Calixte, KC; Cole Tucker, PIT; Christian Arroyo, SF; Rosell Herrera, COL; Erik Gonzalez, CLE; Andrew Velasquez, TB
We Hardly Knew Ye
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