Who Is Really a Shortstop?

Who Is Really a Shortstop?

One of the difficulties in drafting is knowing which position a player is likely to end up in once he reaches the big leagues. that’s a particular problem with shortstops, as many, if not most, young prospects grow up playing short, simply because they were usually the best athlete in school or college teams. For example, Miguel Cabrera played shortstop in low A ball, although nobody really thought he had a chance to stick at the position.

Things are further complicated because teams like to keep prospects playing short, even if they don’t expect them to stick there for ever. This can be for a number of reasons – they hope that the player may develop into a competent shortstop, even if it seems unlikely, they want the player to work on skills which are best practiced at short, or they want the player to get more defensive reps, and the ball comes to the shortstop more frequently than other infielders.

I’m going to go through Bradley’s top 50 shortstops, and offer an opinion on who might stick, and who might move. I should say that these are based on published reports, rather than my own scouting efforts. I have seen very few of these players actually play.

1. Jurickson Profar (TEX) – Will stick at shortstop, based on ability. There is some discussion that he might move to second as the Rangers are more likely to have a vacancy there when he’s ready. My opinion is that Andrus is not special enough to make that necessary, and may not still be in Texas then anyway, so I would see Profar remaining at short.

2. Manny Machado (BAL) – Has a good chance to stick at shortstop, if he doesn’t just outgrow the position. If he does, he’ll move to third, and his bat is good enough that this would only cause a minor drop in value.

3. Francisco Lindor (CLE) – Will stick at shortstop. Also general reports on Lindor since signing have been very good. He could end up being a steal for the Indians.

4. Nick Franklin (SEA) – Has a good chance to stick. If he does move, it would be to second.

5. Xander Bogaerts (BOS) – Will likely have to move. I’ve seen estimates of his chances of sticking which range from 0 to around 35%. If he does move, the first move is to third, but there are suggestions he may not even stick there, and could end up either as a first baseman or an outfielder. It’s entirely possible that the bat will turn out to be good enough to play anywhere though.

6. Billy Hamilton (CIN) - Probably more likely than not to stick at short, although there is persistent talk that he would be a second baseman in the bigs due to a weak arm. All speed, no power guy profiles better as a shortstop

7. Hak-Ju Lee (TAM) – Will stick at short.

8. Jean Segura (LAA) - Was once a second baseman, converted to short last year. No obvious problems, but he was injured a lot. Yet to prove he can handle the position, although there appears to be no reason why he couldn’t.

9. Javier Baez (CHC) – Minimal pro experience, does not look like a shortstop – lacks speed. Will probably have to move to third relatively early in his development. Still unclear whether third would be his pro position. Bat is good enough for third anyway, as he was likely drafted on the assumption he wouldn’t stick at short.

10. Zach Cozart (CIN) – Will stick at short. Should be the starter for Cincinnati this year.

11. Trevor Story (COL) – Can you say blocked? The one thing you can say is that he will not be the starting shortstop for the Rockies any time soon. Likely has the skills for short, so he could play there if traded, or could emd up at second (most likely) or third (if Arenado doesn’t work out), or as a utilityman. I like him as a prospect.

12. Christian Colon (KCR) – Only has value in a deeper league. Ceiling is not that high, and is unlikely to displace Alcides Escobar or Johnny Giavotella, so is more likely to be a defensive minded utilityman.

13. Levi Michael (MIN) – Not a classic quick twitch short stop, but gets everything out of his talent, so it wouldn’t be a shock if he does manage to stick. If he isn’t a SS, he’s probably going to be a second baseman. The move would impact on his value, as his bat is not that special.

14. Joe Panik (SFG) – Playable at short, but probably better as a second baseman. Could be lined up to take over from Freddy Sanchez in two years time. Will continue to play short at the moment – there are no significant blocks there if he continues to do a good job.

15. Tim Beckham (TAM) – Has got to AAA at short, but has limitations defensively. Hak-Ju Lee is far superior defensively, and could be the long term solution at short for Tampa. That would leave Beckham in a utility role.

16. Andrelton Simmons (ATL) – Will stick at short.

17. Tyler Pastornicky (ATL) – Will stick at short.

18. Wilmer Flores (NYM) – Will not stick at short, and could already be in the process of moving. Played 3rd in the Venezuelan League this winter. The question with Flores is whether he can stick at 3rd, or will end up at 1st or in the OF, and then whether he will have the bat for the position. His bat is relatively good, but may not be enough for an offense-first position.

19. Jose Iglesias (BOS) - Will stick at short.

20. Brian Dozier (MIN) – Unlikely to play short full time in the bigs. Profiles better as a second baseman, although he could play short from time to time, so could end up as a utility player.

21. Jake Hager (TAM) - Lacks range to play short in the bigs. Could play 2nd or 3rd.

22. Adeiny Hechevarria (TOR) – Will stick at short.

23. Jonathon Villar (HOU) – Will stick at short. I like the tools.

24. Chris Owings (ARI) – Will stick at short.

25. Derek Dietrich (TAM) – Likely to have to move off short. 3rd is probably his most natural position, although he would be blocked forever. Could also be used at 2nd.

26. Matt Lipka (ATL) - Already moved to centre field.

27. Rosell Herrera (COL) - Likely to outgrow SS. Will move to 3rd. The real question is whether he will stick there, or end up at first or in the outfield. The bat has potential, but obviously more is required as he moves down the defensive spectrum.

28. Ronny Rodriguez (CLE) - Hard to find too much info on him, but there are questions about his defense.

29. Shawon Dunston Jr. (CHC) – Cubs see him as a centre fielder. I would rank him lower (and he isn’t going to be a shortstop).

30. Yordy Cabrera (OAK) – Likely to have to move off short due to a lack of range. Most likely to end up at third.

31. Freddy Galvis (PHI) - Will stick at short.

32. Tyler Saladino (CWS) - Has a good chance to stick at short. If not, would play second. His bat has good power for a middle infielder.

33. Zach Walters (WAS) – Played primarily at SS, but also got time at 2nd and 3rd when he played for Arizona. Got traded, and has played exclusively at short in the Washington system. There are questions about his range, and he could end up as a utilityman who can play a semi-acceptable short.

34. Junior Lake (CHC) - Unlikely to stick at short. Will be tried at 3rd, but may end up as an outfielder.

35. Cito Culver (NYY) – Should stick at short. Young, but defensive reports are good. Stock will rise if the bat improves too.

36. Martin Peguero (SEA) – Reports on his defense are not great, and it seems likely that he will move, either to second, or, more likely, to third.

37. Brad Miller (SEA) - Range is reasonably OK, but throwing is an issue. Could have to move to second. I like him better than Peguero.

38. Nick Ahmed (ATL) – Reports are mixed – he doesn’t always look smooth, but should be able to stick.

39. Eugenio Suarez (DET) – Good reports on defense. Bat appears to have some pop, and would move up the list significantly if the bat develops well.

40. Marcus Littlewood (SEA) - Doesn’t appear to have the athleticism required to play short, and has played some second base, although range could be an issue there. Some thoughts that he could play at third, and I have seen him listed as a C/SS. OK, I don’t know where he’ll play, but it likely won’t be short.

41. Brandon Martin (TAM) - Should stick at short.

42. Jace Peterson (SDP) – Some questions to be answered, but more likely to stick than not. Bat is looking promising, and he has speed. Could improve a lot next year.

43. Christian Lopes (TOR) - Questions about his ability to stick at short. Could end up at either second or third.

44. Jiovanni Mier (HOU) – Will stick at short.

45. DiDi Gregorious (CIN) – Will stick at short. I would rank him a fair bit higher.

46. Roman Quinn (PHI) - Will stick at short.

47. Josh Rutledge (COL) – Will probably move to second. Bat has potential if he can put up numbers outside the Cal League.

48. Eduardo Escobar (CWS) – Glove is good enough to stick, but he could be used as a defensive utility player.

49. Jake Lemmerman (LAD) - Little information available – tools are average. No indication of a switch in the near future.

50 (tie). Hector Gomez (COL) – Strong glove, but with Tulo ensconced at short, he’s likely to end up as a utility player. Bat has some pop.

50 (tie). Carlos Truinfel (SEA) – Mixed reports – has a degree of athleticism, but defense needs to improve to stick at short.