Previous entries in this series
And now we get to the good stuff. You might have noticed by now that the overall level of talent in the minor leagues is a bit down from a dynasty perspective. Not so at shortstop (we’ll be rolling through the six sans woes), where we have several potential top-15 finishers ready to hit the stage this year and a plethora of talented youngsters a few years farther away. This is the good stuff. Enjoy.
Names for 2017
Dansby Swanson, Braves
It must be nice to be Dansby Swanson, but there must be a lot of pressure, too. First of all, your name is Dansby f*****ng Swanson. Plus, you’re handsome and have 80-grade hair. Turns out you’re a great athlete, too. These are gifts we’d all like to have, to be sure, but I wonder if the pressure ever gets to him? Early returns suggest it does not; Swanson hit .302/.361/.442 in a small sample in the majors last year after playing in fewer than 150 MiLB games. I wouldn’t expect him to recreate that line right away, but I’m reasonably confident Swanson can hit better than .270 while swiping 15-plus bases and hitting 10-plus homers right now, and eventually he could settle in as a .300 hitter who swips 20-plus bags and hits 15-plus bombs. That’s top-10 shortstop status, but even if Swanson falls a bit short of that he’s poised to be a great MI in shallower leagues. God, he’s just perfect.
Amed Rosario, Mets
It’s hard to call a top-10 prospect underrated, but I’m not sure the dynasty community fully appreciates what Rosario can bring to the table. He’s fast. He’s got some pop. He gets rave reviews on his hit tool. And oh yeah, he’ll be in the majors soon. Rosario might need some time after he makes the majors to truly hit stride, but he’s got a higher upside than Swanson, and frankly than most players on this list. If it all comes together, we’re looking at a real fantasy monster who can routinely push for a .300 average with double-digit bombs, lots of runs and 25-plus steals. Think 2016 Jose Ramirez, but all the time. I love him. You should love him too.
J.P. Crawford, Phillies
Crawford is the ying to Rosario’s yang; he’s also a top-10 prospect, but I think he’s a little overrated in dynasty circles. We know he’s a lock to stay at shortstop and we know he’s got a good approach at the plate. What we don’t know is whether the average will be more in the .280 or .300 range, and it’s unclear if his steals and homers will push past the 10-12 mark, either. He’s very well rounded, he’s close and he’ll play in a good home ballpark, but Crawford might end up as more of a solid, consistent contributor than a true fantasy star. That still makes him plenty valuable, of course.
Franklin Barreto, Athletics
I’ve been the president of the Franklin Barreto fan club for years now, stumbling around my apartment in a bathrobe and screaming at MLB Network reruns that fawn over Josh Donaldson. I acknowledge there’s a chance he’s not a long-term shortstop, but I do think Barreto can stay on the first by manning second. I remain utterly convinced that he’s going to rake, as he has at just about every stop despite typically being young for his levels. A future as a .300 hitter with 10-15 homers and 20-plus steals seems in play. Just don’t expect Barreto to perform at that level right when he gets to the show.
Willy Adames, Rays
Adames is tough to rank. On the one hand, he’s close to the majors, can hit a bit and might stick at shortstop. On the other, he lacks any carrying fantasy tool, might be a 2B/3B instead of a shortstop and will play in a tough home environment. As I said in the Rays top-10, we could be looking at 2016 Aledmys Diaz if it all clicks for Adames. If not, he’ll be a useful but not altogether special infielder. That still comfortably places him among the top-50 prospects.
Kevin Newman, Pirates
A lot of what I just said about Adames rings true for Newman, albeit he’s got a slightly better hit tool and less natural power. There’s the potential for some average-driven top-15 shortstop finishes here, but he also might just end up as a top-20 second baseman. He should prompt some excellent fantasy team names, at least.
Christian Arroyo, Giants
Arroyo is here because I know I’ll get asked questions about him if I just throw him in with the others, but meh. I think he’ll hit, but I don’t think he’ll play short consistently, hit for power or run. You can always use empty-average MI-eligible guys in deep leagues. In shallow ones? Not so much.
Mauricio Dubon, Brewers
Did someone in your league last season find Chris Owings useful? If so, keep an eye on Dubon. If not, you can pass. He’s probably a speed-first, oft-played backup. The potential for multi-position eligibility is nice though, and when you combine that with his proximity to the majors, he’s a top-200 dynasty prospect.
Names for 2018 and Beyond
Brendan Rodgers, Rockies
Can I interest you in a potential 6 hit/6 power shortstop at Coors? Rodgers is a potential top-five overall fantasy player thanks to a smooth swing, burgeoning power, a future in the infield and the best contextual factors a batter can ask for. He’s not a total lock to remain a shortstop and he might not run a ton, but if he’s hitting .300 with 25-plus bombs, you won’t care if he’s at third or if he’s not stealing bases, too. There’s always a risk in overvaluing Rockies hitters or undervaluing Rockies pitchers too much when they’re in the low minors, because you never know if they’ll be traded. We can’t ignore the Coors Effect potential entirely, though, and it’s enough to bump Rodgers from a very good dynasty prospect to a near-elite one. If he hits in High-A like he hit in Low-A, he’ll be a top-three fantasy prospect at this time next year.
Gleyber Torres, Yankees
Torres is an overrated fantasy prospect. “Oh look, the Red Sox fan thinks a Yankee is overrated,” you say. Hold on now. I love the Yankee who follows Torres on this list, and overrated does not equal bad. Torres is going to hit. Pretty much everyone who’s seen him agrees on that. He’s also close-ish to the majors and could have power that’s above average for the position. But Torres really needs that power to shine through, because otherwise he’s more of a solid option at the position than anything truly special. He’s still a top-30 dynasty guy for me and there’s a chance I’m just being pedantic here, but I think those who have him close to the top-10 are getting carried away. He’s not a lock to be a shortstop long-term, either.
Jorge Mateo, Yankees
If you’re the type who likes to gamble on big-time upside, Mateo is the prospect for you. He had a disappointing 2016 on and off the field, but Mateo was slightly young for High-A and still showed the gaudy speed tool that makes him a big-time fantasy prospect. Worse come to worse, Mateo ends up as a faster version of Jose Peraza, bouncing between playing time at SS, 2B and CF. If it all breaks right, Mateo could be the new Jose Reyes, hitting .270-plus with 50-plus steals and the occasional bomb. Investing in Mateo isn’t for the faint of heart, but you can win leagues with players like this. Buy low-ish on him if you can.
Isan Diaz, Brewers
If you’re the type who likes to gamble on big-time upside, Diaz is the prospect for you. He mashed 20 taters in the Midwest League last season, and while that power comes with some swing-and-miss, it’s real. He also received some more positive reports at the six, though it’s still possible he’ll need to slide over to second base. If it all clicks, you’re looking at a 25-homer shortstop who won’t kill you in average. If not, well, his pop will play at second. His upside is something like 2016 Asdrubal Cabrera (but often), while his floor might be Jonathan Schoop.
Nick Gordon, Twins
If you’re the type who likes to gamble on big-time upside, scroll back up and relive happier times, because Gordon ain’t for you. The then-20-year-old continued his slow but steady climb up the MiLB ladder last season, hitting .291/.335/.386 with 13 steals in High-A. He doesn’t have any power and lacks flashy speed, but the bat-to-ball ability is there, and Gordon is a lock to stay at shortstop. He might never be a top-10 options, but he’s in for lots of boring-ass top-20 or top-25 finishes. Sort of like the C.J. Cron of dynasty shortstop prospects.
Anderson Tejeda, Rangers
Tejeda is years and years away, but the BP Prospect Team dropped a 60 OFP on him in the Rangers top-10, and we know that Texas excels at developing guys like this. Keep monitoring Tejeda’s progress, but know that you’ll need to get in on him, like, now if you decide you want him. He’s already becoming something of a prospect darling among the dynasty community.
Delvin Perez, Cardinals
Another younger shortstop who carries a ton of risk, Perez was a hot name a few months before the MLB draft but fell thanks largely to a positive PED test. He’s a lock to stick at shortstop and he’s got a potential plus hit/plus power combo, but a lot could go wrong between now and his ETA of ~2020. He’ll just miss our dynasty top 101, but he’d be among the next 10-or-so names for me.
Kevin Maitan, Braves
If you thought Tejeda and Perez had big upside but big risk, let me introduce you to Maitan. The consensus best prospect from the last J2 class, Maitan has big-time offensive potential. But you already knew that, because if he didn’t, we wouldn’t be talking about a player who might not sniff the majors until the after the 2022 Winter Olympics. Beware that investing in Maitan means you’re sacrificing a roster spot for at least the next half-decade, but hey, when the potential rewards are this high, so too are the risks.
Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
Do you feel old yet? I feel old. Tatis might be a shortstop right now, but he’s not going to be a shortstop. That’s thanks in part to a big boy body that lets him project to hit for above average power, but that also comes with its fair share of swing-and-miss right now. Tatis is raw and many years away, but there’s enough upside here to justify his inclusion on your watch list.
Ryan Mountcastle, Orioles
Not only does Mountcastle have one of the best last names in the minors, but he’s one of my favorite sleeper prospects, too. He probably wouldn’t be in my top-150 just yet, but he’d definitely be in my top-200 and he could start flying up boards if the it tool continues to play. Get in on the ground floor. He is Vardis Egen’s least favorite prospect.
Yeyson Yrizarri, Rangers
All the tools are here. Can he figure out how to use them? Probably not, but if yes, look out. I’d rather gamble on him than any of the players in the Others section, which is why he’s not in the Others section despite having a lower floor than the Dead Sea.
Richard Urena, Blue Jays
I think we’ll come to view Urena similarly to how we view Arroyo now. That doesn’t make him a hot dynasty commodity, but it does make him someone you should pay attention to as he tries to solve the mid-minors. The ceiling is low but there’s a chance he’ll be playable if you’re in a deep mixed league.
Others: Jonathan Arauz, HOU; Bo Bichette, TOR; Ronny Brito, LAD; Yu-Cheng Chang, CLE; C.J. Chatham, BOS; Lucius Fox, TB; Arquímedes Gamboa, PHI; Wilkerman Garcia, NYY; Andres Gimenez, NYM; Javier Guerra, SD; C.J. Hinojosa, SF; Drew Jackson, SEA; Wander Javier, MIN; Carter Kieboom, WAS; Gilbert Lara, MIL; Dawel Lugo, ARI; Gavin Lux, LAD; Richie Martin, OAK; Isaac Paredes, CHC; Adrian Rondon, TB; Jose Rondon, SD; Miguelangel Sierra, HOU; Edmundo Sosa, STL; Christopher Torres, SEA; Cole Tucker, PIT; Nonie Williams, LAA, Your Favorite SS Prospect Who I Forgot
We Hardly Knew Ye (Fantasy Value)