2018 Top 58 Fantasy Shortstop Prospects, Part 2
The Dynasty Guru recently released the annual, consensus rankings of the top 50 fantasy shortstops in dynasty leagues (#1-20 and #21-50), detailing several shortstop prospects. The following rankings focus upon, and dive deeper into, fantasy shortstop prospects.
Shortstop is arguably the most important and valuable defensive position in baseball. As such, major league organizations often attempt to develop as many prospects at shortstop as possible. Consequently, the list of shortstop prospects is expansive; so expansive it warrants two separate articles. Part 1 explored the cream of the crop, the top 20 shortstop prospects. Part 2 covers the remaining 38 shortstop prospects, from high upside, high risk teenagers to intriguing prospects on the cusp of majors, but often considered “organizational depth.”
Before delving into the rankings, here is a brief explanation of fantasy tool grades:
A Guide to Fantasy Tools
Publicly-available scouting reports and past production make up a player’s “grades” for each of his skills. Those grades help anticipate a player’s ceiling, which, in turn, helps assess value. For fantasy purposes, only a few grades matter.
Average Hit Tool: The fantasy hit tool is a mixture of contact (batting average) and plate discipline (walk percentage/on-base percentage, or OBP). In a 16-team dynasty league, the average batting average and on-base percentage is approximately .265 and .335, respectively. A well-disciplined player’s fantasy hit tool plays up a grade higher than otherwise expected. A change to a hit tool grade increases or decreases those averages by approximately .015 (i.e., an above-average hitter produces a batting average and on-base percentage of approximately .280 and .350, respectively).
Average Power Tool: The fantasy power tool weighs realized or in-game power against potential or raw power. In a 16-team dynasty league, the league-average isolated power is approximately .175, which translates to approximately 20 home runs per season. A change to a power tool grade increases or decreases by approximately .025 for isolated power.
Speed Bonus: The speed bonus only applies to players anticipated to accumulated stolen bases. Each incremental bonus accounts for approximately 10 stolen bases. For example, a player with a speed bonus of 5 likely will accumulate approximately 10-15 stolen bases.
Risk: Risk considers a multitude of factors, including, but not limited to, fielding, level, opportunity, industry reputation, age, and injury history. In fantasy, fielding is only relevant to the extent it facilitates or hinders opportunity and eligibility.
Without further ado, the 2018 Top Fantasy Shortstop Prospects:
2018 Top 21-58 Shortstop Prospects
|21||Isaac Paredes DET||19.11||A||2020|
|22||Logan Warmoth TOR||22.56||R/A-||2020|
|23||Yasel Antuna WAS||18.43||R||2021|
|24||Willi Castro CLE||20.93||A+||2018|
|25||Kevin Merrell OAK||22.29||A-||2020|
|26||Chris Seise TEX||19.23||R/A-||2021|
|27||Jeter Downs CIN||19.67||R||2021|
|28||Mauricio Dubon MIL||23.69||AA/AAA||2018|
|29||Lucius Fox TB||20.74||A/A+||2020|
|30||Mark Vientos NYM||18.30||R||2021|
|31||Gabriel Arias SD||18.09||R/A||2020|
|32||Jose Israel Garcia CIN||19.98||N/A||2021|
|33||Yairo Munoz STL||23.18||AA/AAA||2018|
|34||Anderson Tejeda TEX||19.91||A||2020|
|35||Joe Dunand MIA||22.53||R/A+||2020|
|36||Lourdes Gurriel TOR||24.44||A+/AA||2019|
|37||Freudis Nova HOU||18.21||R||2021|
|38||Domingo Leyba ARI||22.55||AA||2019|
|39||Tyler Wade NYY||23.35||AAA/MLB||2018|
|40||Thairo Estrada NYY||22.10||AA||2018|
|41||Leonardo Rivas LAA||20.47||R/A||2020|
|42||Jasrado Chisholm ARI||20.16||A||2020|
|43||Arquimedes Gamboa PHI||20.52||A||2020|
|44||Adam Hall BAL||18.85||R||2021|
|45||Tyler Freeman CLE||18.86||R||2021|
|46||Luis Almanzar SD||18.41||A-||2021|
|47||Jermaine Palacios MIN||21.69||A/A+||2020|
|48||Kevin Newman PIT||24.65||AA/AAA||2019|
|49||Richard Urena TOR||22.09||AA||2018|
|50||Delvin Perez STL||19.35||R||2021|
|51||Nicky Lopez KC||23.04||A+/AA||2019|
|52||Gavin Lux LAD||20.35||A||2020|
|53||Nick Allen OAK||19.475||R||2021|
|54||Jean Carmona MIL||18.41||R||2021|
|55||Jordy Barley SD||18.32||R||2021|
|56||Ronny Mauricio NYM||16.99||N/A||2022|
|57||Danny Diaz BOS||17.24||N/A||2022|
|58||Aaron Bracho CLE||16.93||N/A||2022|
21. Isaac Paredes, Detroit Tigers
The Chicago Cubs traded Isaac Paredes to the Tigers as part of the package for Justin Wilson at the trade deadline last year. Spending the entire year in Low-A as an 18-year-old, Paredes performed far better than his .252/.338/.387 line indicates. Paredes has a disciplined, high contact approach, but makes far too much weak and airborne contact. The power is there to produce 15-20 home runs, but it presently only plays to the pull-side. Although he is a good defender with a strong arm, he lacks the athleticism for shortstop.
Peak Projection: .260/.340/.420, 15-20 home runs
22. Logan Warmoth, Toronto Blue Jays
Nearly all of Logan Warmoth’s tools are borderline average, allowing him to contribute across the board. The 2017 first rounder is a polished hitter who manages the strike zone well and uses the entire field. A change in approach between his sophomore and junior seasons allowed Warmoth to tap into his power at the expense of more swing-and-miss. With good speed and base running instincts, Warmoth is also a threat on the bases. Warmoth projects as an unspectacular, but quality fantasy player- a potential 15/15 performer with a solid batting average in the middle infield.
Peak Projection: .275/.325/.410, 10-15 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
23. Yasel Antuna, Washington Nationals
Signed by the Nationals in 2016 for $3.9 million, Yasel Antuna did not disappoint in his professional debut. He displayed advanced hitting ability and discipline (an outstanding 29/23 strikeout-to-walk ratio) at just 17 years old in the Gulf Coast League,. A natural hitter, Antuna consistently drives the ball into the gaps. However, he is a work-in-progress on defense, committing 20 errors in just 20 games started last year.
Peak Projection: .280/.350/.425, 15-20 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
24. Willi Castro, Cleveland Indians
Willi Castro was one of the youngest players in High-A Carolina League last year, having turned 20 years old just three weeks after Opening Day. Even so, he exceeded expectations. Castro is a switch-hitter who excels at both sides of the plate, making hard contact and flashing budding power. Despite good speed, however, he is an inefficient base stealer (67% success rate), and has mediocre range and body control in the field. Further, Castro is an aggressive hitter with a career 4.1% walk rate. On the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, Castro likely will debut late this year.
Peak Projection: .270/.310/.400, 10-15 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
25. Kevin Merrell, Oakland Athletics
A footrace between fellow Athletics prospect Jorge Mateo and Kevin Merrell would be a sight to behold- Merrell is that fast. Earning 70+ grades for his speed, he is a potentially elite base stealer who notched 10 in 31 games in his debut. Merrell is also no slouch with the bat: he makes tons of contact, sprays line drives to all fields, and uses his plus speed to regularly hit over .300. Although power is not really a part of his game, he is not punchless, with some pull-side pop. On defense, Merrell has plenty of range, but an average arm and unrefined actions.
Peak Projection: .285/.330/.385, 5-10 home runs, 30-35 stolen bases
26. Chris Seise, Texas Rangers
The Rangers selected Chris Seise in the first round of the 2017 draft due to his excellent defense and emerging bat. With athleticism, a plus arm, and soft hands, Seise is a near lock to stick at shortstop. The big question is whether he will hit enough. Thus far, the answer is yes. Seise showed well in his debut, hitting line drives to all fields with pull-side power. With good bat speed and a projectable 6’2” frame, he could grow into even more power. In addition, his athleticism and speed also play well on the bases. As a potential all-around player, Seise has big upside, but his game is still very raw and he has a long way to go.
Peak Projection: .265/.310/.420, 15-20 home runs, 20-25 stolen bases
27. Jeter Downs, Cincinnati Reds
Named after 14-time All-Star shortstop, Derek Jeter, Downs is quite the ballplayer himself. He Impressed in his debut as one of the younger players in the hitter-friendly Pioneer League by exhibiting exceptional discipline and flashing significant power. Along with his advanced approach and budding power, Downs hits the ball to all fields with authority. An average runner, Downs’ instincts and aggression allow his speed to play up on the bases. In the field, observers believe his range, arm strength, and instincts will allow him to stay at shortstop.
Peak Projection: .270/.350/.430, 15-20 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
28. Mauricio Dubon, Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers acquired Mauricio Dubon from the Red Sox as part of the package for Tyler Thornburg before last season. At the time, Dubon was fresh off a breakout, .323/.379/.461 performance between High-A and Double-A. The power he displayed in Double-A in 2016 dried up, however. Although he hit eight home runs on the year, five of them came in the thin air at Triple-A Colorado Springs (where he hit .336/.386/.541). Without the park-aided pop, Dubon’s season was pedestrian. Profiling as a high-end utilityman, he could surprise with modest power, respectable batting average, and plenty of stolen bases.
Peak Projection: .275/.335/.360, 1-5 home runs, 20-25 stolen bases
29. Lucius Fox, Tampa Bay Rays
Just like how Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox provides fancy tools to Batman, the real Lucius Fox provides equally impressive tools to the Rays. Instead of the Batmobile, Fox has blazing speed, a promising bat, and a great glove. A year after Fox signed with the Giants for $6 million, he changed organizations in a Matt Moore deadline deal. A patient hitter, he profiles well at the top-of-the-order. Still lacking much power, Fox does have some gap-to-gap pop and observers project up to 10 home runs at maturity. Defensively, his range, arm, and soft hands make for a natural shortstop.
Peak Projection: .270/.345/.350, 1-5 home runs, 30-35 stolen bases
30. Mark Vientos, New York Mets
An over-slot 2017 second round pick, Mark Vientos was one of the youngest players in the 2017 Amateur Draft. Despite his extreme youth (just 17 years old), he performed well in rookie ball and advanced to the Appalachian League. With a highly projectable 6’4” frame, optimistic observers envision a plus hitter with plus power. Vientos already displays a quick bat, a feel for hitting, and flashes big power. However, he is a poor athlete, and most believe he is not long for shortstop. He has already seen reps at third base, where his arm strength and hands play well.
Peak Projection: .270/.330/.465, 25-30 home runs
The Best of the Rest
The 2018 Shortstop Sleepers
The following prospects may rise significantly with strong showings in 2018. Each has immense upside, but each is also years away from the majors.
Anderson Tejeda, Texas Rangers: Anderson Tejeda carried some hype entering last year, due to a loud 2016 stateside debut in which he hit .277/.313/.553 in the Northwest League shortly after turning 18 years old. Aggressively assigned to Low-A South Atlantic League, he struggled with contact all year, striking out 132 times (for a strikeout rate of 29.6%). When he did make contact, however, it was hard, leading the league in line drive percentage with 26.8%. Further, Anderson’s plus raw power and bat speed, and developing all-fields approach, give his bat a chance to be special. Closing the year on a roll (.297/.349/.525 over 27 games), he will hope to carry that momentum to High-A this year.
Leonardo Rivas, Los Angeles Angels: The prototypical lead-off hitter, Rivas is a walks machine, with more walks (19.7%) than strikeouts (14.7%). He is an extreme, high contact hitter and spoil artist, and led both the Pioneer and Midwest Leagues in swinging strike percentage (3.4% and 3.9%, respectively). Without much power, Rivas uses the whole field and takes advantage of his good speed to reach base. He is a plus runner who was an extremely efficient base stealer last year (19 of 20). Meanwhile, Rivas is also proficient in the field, but likely profiles at second base long-term due to a mediocre arm.
Jasrado Chisholm, Arizona Diamondbacks: Last year was not kind to Chisholm. Right when he began to heat up after a slow start, his season ended in May by way of a torn meniscus. Prior to the injury, Chisholm suffered a lot of swing-and-miss, with tons of strikeouts (31.2%) and swinging strikes (17.3%). In addition, he reverted to a pull-heavy approach (58.3%). On the positive side, Chisholm is still a line drive hitter with solid power and patience at the plate. Further, he shows excellent range and instincts at shortstop despite average athleticism.
Arquimedes Gamboa, Philadelphia Phillies: Gamboa has consistently received aggressive assignments from the Phillies throughout his brief career and until last year they overwhelmed him. Last year, however, he impressed in Low-A South Atlantic League, displaying excellent discipline, developing power, and great defense at shortstop. A switch-hitter, Gamboa is much better from the left-side, with a sweet swing. After struggling for much of the year, his performance in his last 25 games (.327/.364/.531) bodes well for the future.
Close to the Show: The 40-Man Roster Shortstop Prospect
Expect several of the following players to see time in the majors this year. Injuries or under-performance at the major league level could elevate several to starting jobs.
Yairo Munoz, St. Louis Cardinals: Following Munoz’s rebound .300/.330/.464 season across Double-A and Triple-A, the Athletics traded him as part of a package for Stephen Piscotty. Munoz is all-fields hitter with borderline average power and a good feel for making contact. However, he is also aggressive and drives too many balls into the ground. He saw time at every position in the field but first base. With a big arm and soft hands, Munoz profiles best at third base, but he plays a competent shortstop.
Tyler Wade, New York Yankees: Wade is the possible starter at second base for the Yankees this year, and it’s no wonder as he had a spectacular season in Triple-A last year (slashing .310/.382/.460 with 7 home runs and 26 stolen bases). Long thought to be punchless, he made legitimate changes to his approach over the past two years, creating more loft and reaching some of his raw power. Wade is also a speedster who improved his efficiency on the bases the last two years. In the field, he is solid at shortstop, but profiles as a plus defender at second base.
Thairo Estrada, New York Yankees: The other Yankees second base hopeful, Estrada is a contact hitter with excellent discipline. Further, he uses the entire field to regularly hit for high batting averages. Although Estrada does not hit for much power, he has surprising pull-side pop. He could provide additional value on the bases, as he has plus speed but terrible instincts (leading to an unsightly 42% success rate last year). Estrada is a potential plus defender, as he is a reliable fielder with a strong arm.
Richard Urena, Toronto Blue Jays: After breaking out in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League in 2016, Urena hit a wall in the Eastern League (.251/.286/.366 with 5 home runs over 683 plate appearances). Despite his struggles, he continues to flash some power (49 extra-base hits) to all fields, and even debuted in the majors last year. Still just 22 years old, Urena likely leaves the confines of the Eastern League for those of the (hopefully) more hospitable International League.
Close to the Show: The High-A and Above Shortstop Prospect
The road for prospects is long and winding. These prospects are one step closer, already reaching High-A, and in some cases, beyond.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Toronto Blue Jays: The younger brother of Yulieski Gurriel, Lourdes signed a 7-year, $22 million contract in 2016. He slashed .244/.275/.378 with 8 home runs in his debut, which extended to the Arizona Fall League. Although he uses the whole field, Gurriel is an aggressive hitter (3.8 BB%) with limited, pull-side power. The raw power is there for more and, at the time of his signing, observers saw 50 hit and 50+ power in his bat.
Domingo Leyba, Arizona Diamondbacks: After an impressive 2016 season (.296/.355/.429), Leyba lost most of last season with a shoulder injury. When he did play, he displayed superb discipline, solid power, and the ability to use the whole field. As an average athlete with limited range, Leyba is likely to move to second base.
Jermaine Palacios, Minnesota Twins: One of the best hitters in Low-A Midwest League last year, Palacios slashed .320/.362/.544 with 11 home runs. Upon his promotion to High-A Florida State League, he kept hitting through late July (.323/.350/.438), then collapsed to end the year. A projectable 6’0” and 145 pounds, Palacios is starting to fill out and add some pull-side power. With an excellent line drive stroke and quick wrists, he makes consistent hard contact. What Palacios lacks in speed he makes up for in trying to steal, yielding a 57% success rate last year. His poor athleticism limits his range at shortstop and will likely move to third or second base in the future.
Kevin Newman, Pittsburgh Pirates: Many thought Newman was an elite hitter after dominating the Cape Cod League (.377) and his junior year of college (.370). In addition to the plus hit tool, he was a plus runner in the Cape and college. Despite these impressive numbers, both his hit and speed play closer to average as a professional. Further, Newman never developed any power. A high contact hitter, he rarely strikeouts and slaps the ball to all fields. Newman has a high floor as a reliable defender; unfortunately, that floor is extremely close to his very low ceiling.
The 2017 Shortstop Draftees
The 2017 Amateur Draft included many intriguing shortstop prospects, from raw high school teenagers to seasoned college bats. Here are the most interesting options.
Joe Dunand, Miami Marlins: The nephew of Alex Rodriguez, Dunand is a legitimate home run threat with plus raw power. His 2016 success in the Cape Cod League (.326/.372/.511 with 5 home runs) carried over into his junior year (18 more home runs), leading the Marlins to select him in the second round. Other than the power, Dunand has questionable hitting ability, defense, and athleticism.
Adam Hall, Baltimore Orioles: Hall is a raw Canadian teenager who possesses all the tools you want from a shortstop. Plus running and bat speed are highlights in his repertoire. In addition, Hall has a natural feel for hitting and projects to hit for some power. Only playing in two Rookie ball games, he remains a bit of a mystery outside of scouting reports.
Tyler Freeman, Cleveland Indians: One day older than Adam Hall, Freeman went off the board eleven picks later, with the 71st overall selection. Unlike Hall, Freeman debuted in the Arizona League and performed well, slashing .297/.364/.414 with 2 home runs and 5 stolen bases. A high contact, line-drive hitter, Freeman sprays the ball to all fields. He could surprise as a potential above-average hitter with good speed and solid up-the-middle defense.
Nick Allen, Oakland Athletics: Signed for more than double the slot value for the 81st overall pick ($2 million), Allen is the second shortstop drafted by the Athletics and likely ranks ahead of Kevin Merrell on most lists. A superb defender with excellent work ethic and makeup, Allen is a far better real-life baseball player than fantasy asset. A slight 5’9” and 155 pounds, he packs little thump in his bat. However, Allen can really hit with outstanding speed and instincts.
The 2016 Shortstop Draftees
The 2016 Amateur Draft included many intriguing shortstop prospects, some disappointed and some surprised in their first full professional season. Here are the most interesting options.
Delvin Perez, St. Louis Cardinals: The much-maligned Perez fell to 23rd overall in the 2016 Amateur Draft due testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. Last year, he then lost most of his season to a leg injury and a fractured finger. Perez retains the tantalizing tools and upside which put him in the discussion for the first overall pick in 2016. With blazing speed, a projectable 6’3” frame, and promising discipline, he could boom or bust.
Nicky Lopez, Kansas City Royals: A 2016 fifth round pick, Lopez received a lot of attention this past Fall after impressing in the Arizona Fall League (.383/.433/.568). Although he hits for little power, he exercises exceptional plate discipline and makes a ton of contact. In addition to his promising hit tool, Lopez has good speed and is aggressive on the bases. His carrying tool, however, is his defense. With a plus arm, soft hands, and great actions, Lopez is a tremendous defensive shortstop, committing just 13 errors in 161 career games.
Gavin Lux, Los Angeles Dodgers: A 2016 first round pick, Lux spent the entire year in Low-A and turned in a league-average performance, slashing .244/.331/.362 with 7 home runs and 27 stolen bases. After a poor start to the year, he settled in and heated up, hitting .325/.381/.447 with 11 stolen bases over his last 30 games. Other than his 80-grade 80’s villain name, Lux provides speed, patience (11.2 BB%), and a projectable frame to add more power.
The 2017 Shortstop International Free Agents
Each summer, major league teams dive deep into the international market, signing 16- and 17-year-old prospects to million dollar bonuses. Like Miguel Cabrera, some of these young men become super stars.
Jose Israel Garcia, Cincinnati Reds: Signed for $5 million, Garcia is a plus runner with power potential and a strong arm.
Ronny Mauricio, New York Mets: Signed for $2.1 million, Mauricio is a highly projectable 6’3”’ and 166 pounds with a good feel to hit, but modest power.
Danny Diaz, Boston Red Sox: Signed for $1.6 million, Diaz has quick hands and tons of raw power, but lacks athleticism for shortstop.
Aaron Bracho, Cleveland Indians: Signed for $1.5 million, Bracho is a switch hitter who employs a short, powerful swing to make hard, gap-to-gap contact.
The 2016 Shortstop International Free Agents
A year after their touted signing (or under-the-radar signing), these prospects experienced their first taste of professional baseball. How did they do?
Gabriel Arias, San Diego Padres: Signed by the Padres for $1.9 million, Arias debuted this year at 17 years old and advanced all the way to Low-A. After the season, he hit .271/.310/.486 with 5 home runs in the hitter-friendly Austrian Baseball League. Although his state-side numbers do not jump off the page (.265/.312/.326), he has immense upside. Projected to hit for average and power while providing excellent defense, Arias could fly up prospect lists this year. Turning 18 years old in late February, he will likely return to Low-A as one of the youngest players in the Midwest League.
Freudis Nova, Houston Astros: Nova signed with the Astros for $1.2 million after a $2.5 million deal with the Marlins fell through for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. With plus bat speed and a leveraged swing, Nova projects to hit for significant power. Further, he exhibits promising discipline, a line drive stroke, and plus speed. Overall, Nova could develop into a very special bat. He extremely unrefined on defense, and he is already receiving reps at third base.
Luis Almanzar, San Diego Padres: Receiving a $4 million bonus, Almanzar debuted in the Northwest League at just 17 years old. Despite his surface struggles (.230/.299/.299), he made a lot of hard contact (25.3% line drives). Like Nova, Almanzar projects to both hit and hit for power, while also already seeing time at third base. Unlike Nova, he has only average speed.
Jean Carmona, Milwaukee Brewers: Before coming state-side to the Arizona League, Carmona impressed in the Dominican Summer League, slashing .302/.406/.447 with 7 triples. Further, he shows good discipline, an all-fields, line drive bat, and power potential. Displaying great range and instincts, Carmona likely will stick at shortstop.
Jordy Barley, San Diego Padres: Yet another heralded 2016 international signee for the Padres, Barley made his state-side debut last year in the Arizona League. Knocking 21 extra-base hits in just 49 games, he showed off his power potential. In addition to the pop, Barley has plus speed and a plus arm. Regarded as a good defender, he really struggled in the field last year, committing 30 errors with poor range despite his athleticism.