2019 Top 70 Fantasy Shortstop Prospects, Part 1
Shortstop is arguably the most important and valuable defensive position in baseball. As such, major league organizations often attempt to develop as many shortstop prospects as possible. Consequently, the list of shortstop prospects is expansive; so expansive it warrants two separate articles. Part 1 explores the cream of the crop, the top 20 shortstop prospects. Part 2 covers the remaining 50 shortstop prospects, from high upside, high risk teenagers to intriguing prospects on the cusp of majors, but often considered “organizational depth.”
The prospect rankings schedule and a guide to fantasy tool grades can be found here. In addition, to see where the shortstop prospects below fall in the overall rankings, you can obtain access to the updated Top 600 Dynasty League Players with a small donation.
Before delving into the rankings, the following former shortstop prospects currently receive the majority of playing time at another position, and, as such, are on previous or upcoming lists: Ryan Mountcastle, Baltimore Orioles (3B); Luis Urias, San Diego Padres (2B); Jeter Downs, Cincinnati Reds (2B); and Mark Vientos, New York Mets (3B). To see where these prospects would rank among shortstop prospects, scroll to the bottom of the article.
Top 20 Fantasy Shortstop Prospects
|Rank||Player||Primary Position||Secondary Position||Age||2018 Level||ETA|
|1||Fernando Tatis Jr. SD||SS||-||20.24||AA||2019|
|2||Bo Bichette TOR||SS||2B||21.06||AA||2019|
|3||Wander Franco TB||SS||-||18.08||APP||2021|
|4||Brendan Rodgers COL||SS||2B/3B||22.64||AA, AAA||2019|
|5||Royce Lewis MIN||SS||-||19.81||A, A+||2020|
|6||Carter Kieboom WAS||SS||-||21.57||A+, AA||2020|
|7||Andres Gimenez NYM||SS||-||20.57||A+, AA||2020|
|8||Jorge Mateo OAK||SS||-||23.76||AAA||2019|
|9||Oneil Cruz PIT||SS||-||20.48||A||2021|
|10||Xavier Edwards SD||SS||2B||19.64||AZL, NWL||2022|
|11||Luis Garcia WAS||SS||3B/2B||18.87||A, A+||2021|
|12||Kevin Smith TOR||SS||3B/2B||22.73||A, A+||2020|
|13||Nick Gordon MIN||SS||2B||23.43||AA, AAA||2019|
|14||Jordan Groshans TOR||SS||3B||19.38||GCL, APP||2022|
|15||Gavin Lux LAD||SS||2B||21.35||A+, AA||2020|
|16||Isaac Paredes DET||SS||2B/3B||20.11||A+, AA||2020|
|17||Jazz Chisholm ARI||SS||-||21.16||A, A+||2020|
|18||Wander Javier MIN||SS||-||20.25||N/A||2021|
|19||Marco Luciano SF||SS||-||17.55||N/A||2023|
|20||Orelvis Martinez TOR||SS||-||17.36||N/A||2023|
1. Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres
Fernando Tatis Jr. has similar offensive upside to his father (and namesake), a former major league third baseman who posted a 34/21 season in 1999. Initially signed by the White Sox in 2015, he changed clubs less than a year later before his professional debut. Last year, Tatis broke out, dominating Low-A Midwest League at just 18 years old (.281/.390/.520). At the end of the season, the Padres aggressively skipped him past High-A to Double-A, where he struggled in a brief, 14-game stretch. This year, Tatis returned to the Texas League, and, over the first month, he continued to struggle with more advanced pitching, hitting just .177/.231/.333 with a 34-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Once the calendar turned to May, however, Tatis caught fire, slashing an astounding .327/.400/.556 the rest of the year. Unfortunately, a fractured left thumb cut his season short in mid-July.
An athletic and narrow-waisted 6’3” and 185 pounds, Tatis looks the part of a future star. At the plate, he combines plus bat speed, plus raw power, and a leveraged swing to produce plenty of game power (18.8% HR/FB). Despite his success, Tatis continues to struggle with contact (27.7% strikeouts and 16.5% swinging strikes), and he often expands the strike zone, especially on off-speed pitches. Regardless, he has been the youngest (often by far) player at each level, and, notably, he made necessary adjustments to succeed.
Meanwhile, Tatis continues to make progress defensively, and projects to at least average at shortstop. Concerns regarding his size, range, and actions are not as prevalent. Similar to Manny Machado in many ways (they even have the same listed height and weight), Tatis could profile at third base or shortstop. Wherever he plays, he has sky-high upside.
Peak Projection: .275/.350/.510, 30-35 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
2. Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays
Recently, the Blue Jays have stockpiled prospects with professional baseball bloodlines, selecting Bo Bichette in the second round of the 2016 Draft. His father, Dante Bichette, was a four-time All-Star, and his brother, Dante Bichette Jr., is a prospect for the Yankees. Since entering pro ball, Bichette has done nothing but hit. In his injury-shortened debut, he obliterated the Gulf Coast League (.427/.451/.732). Then, last year, he torched the Midwest League (.384/.448/.623), earning MVP honors, and he was excellent in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League (.323/.379/.463). At just 20 years old, Bichette spent the entire year in Double-A this year. Finally, he found some resistance, failing to hit a home run until May 15th and struggling through late May (.237/.313/.356). As with all elite prospects, he adjusted. For the rest of the season, he slashed .309/.357/.500 with 10 home runs.
Bichette’s bat is clearly his calling card. In fact, some observers assign future plus grades to both his hit and power tools. Already, he exhibits advanced plate discipline and expertly utilizes the whole field. Further, Bichette maximizes the quality of his contact with a violent, aggressive swing complimented by elite bat-to-ball skills. Presently, he favors gap-to-gap, hard contact and hit-over-power, but he could develop significant game power. While he is an exceptional hitter, he is an average athlete, and he likely will not be a big base-stealer. In addition, his defense at shortstop remains subpar, and many still view him as a future second baseman.
Peak Projection: .290/.345/.475, 20-25 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
3. Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays uncharacteristically opened up the pocket books in 2017, signing Wander Franco for $3,825,000. Then, the Rays aggressively assigned the 17-year-old to the Appalachian League this year. The youngest player in the advanced rookie league, Franco outperformed his wildest expectations. He did it all: hit (.351 BA), hit for power (.236 ISO), and hit for contact with exceptional plate discipline (7% strikeouts, 6.2% swinging strikes, and a 19-to-27 strikeout-to-walk ratio). Understandably, Franco has shot up prospect lists everywhere, and he may only be touching the surface of his upside.
That upside is massive, potentially rivaling Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Although Franco lacks Vlad Jr.’s double-plus raw power, he makes up for merely above-average raw power with above-average-to-plus speed. In addition, Franco is a switch-hitter, and he displays similar bat speed, power, and hitting ability from both sides of the plate. At just 17 years old, he has an uncanny, natural feel to hit, creating loft and hard all-fields contact. Defensively, he profiles as a borderline-average shortstop, and likely moves to second base long-term. Nevertheless, he is an exciting, elite offensive talent. Normally conservative with prospects, the Rays, thus far, appear to make a special exception for Franco, and he could move through the minors quickly.
Peak Projection: .315/.385/.515, 25-30 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
4. Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies
A bat-first, power-hitting shortstop with elite draft pedigree (selected third overall in 2015) for the Rockies is a fantasy baseball dream. Conceivably, Brendan Rodgers personifies that dream. Now, he is on the cusp of the majors, having cleared a significant hurdle in difficult Double-A Eastern League. However, a slow, powerless finish in Triple-A (.232/.264/.290), and a crowded Rockies infield, including Trevor Story at shortstop, dampens excitement surrounding Rodgers. Still, he had a solid season overall, continuing to hit for power outside of hitter-friendly environments (.218 ISO and 16% HR/FB in Double-A). Further, his patience and contact rate greatly improved, as he nearly doubled his walk rate (3.5% in 2017 and 6.5% in 2018) and reduced his swinging strike rate by approximately two percent.
While Rodgers may not be the perfect fantasy player, he still possesses substantial upside. The same compact, quick, and leveraged swing which made him an early first round pick drives his offensive game. This swing generates loud, powerful contact to all fields, especially to the pull-side. With improved plate discipline, Rodgers is a potential lethal bat, with above-average-to-plus hit and power tools. In the field, he received playing time at shortstop (61.4%), second base (19.7%), and third base (18.8%). It is unclear where Rodgers will break into the majors; however, third base appears to be the most likely option as Nolan Arenado is in the last year of salary arbitration.
Peak Projection: .275/.335/.500, 30-35 home runs
5. Royce Lewis, Minnesota Twins
The first overall pick in the 2017 Draft, Royce Lewis has lived up to his lofty draft position. During his debut last year, he advanced all the way to Low-A at just 18 years old. Returning to Low-A this year, Lewis hit well, but for little power, through late May (.299/.347/.358). Over the next 40 games in the Midwest League, however, he dominated, hitting .329/.383/.589 with 8 home runs and 9 stolen bases. In mid-July, the Twins promoted Lewis to High-A Florida State League, where he performed extremely well (.316/.401/.519) before struggling over his last 15 games (6-for-55 with a 13-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio). All told, his season was a huge success.
A lean and muscular 6’2” and 188 pounds, Lewis is an outstanding, graceful athlete. For such an athletic specimen, he is a surprisingly polished prospect. At the plate, he is a potential plus hitter, with advanced discipline and solid contact skills. In addition, he has emerging power (8.8% HR/FB) with even more projection. Meanwhile, he continues to show well at shortstop, quieting concerns of a future move to second base or center field. As a potential five-category, 20/20 contributor at shortstop, Lewis has enormous fantasy upside.
Peak Projection: .285/.355/.460, 20-25 home runs, 20-25 stolen bases
6. Carter Kieboom, Washington Nationals
Carter Kieboom supports his 80-grade hitter’s name with a potent bat. Despite an injury-shortened 2017 season (hamstring), he received an aggressive assignment to High-A this year. Following a poor start through early May (.191/.294/.327), Kieboom exploded, hitting .385/.443/.630 with 7 home runs over his next 35 games. Given his dominance, the Nationals promoted him to Double-A, where he continued his hot hitting through early July (.383/.431/.567). All good things eventually come to an end, and Kieboom understandably slowed down in the difficult Eastern League. After the season, he returned to form in the Arizona Fall League (.295/.427/.372).
A professional hitter, Kieboom utilizes a mature, patient approach and experts works his way into favorable hitting counts. Additionally, he has added strength to his frame and more leverage to his swing, allowing him to more fully tap into his above-average raw power. On defense, Kieboom is a capable shortstop, but with Trea Turner locked in for the foreseeable future, he started receiving reps at second base in the AFL and during offseason workouts. Next year, he likely will return to Double-A, and he could a promotion as soon as mid-season.
Peak Projection: .280/.360/.480, 25-30 home runs
7. Andres Gimenez, New York Mets
The Mets signed Andres Gimenez for $1.2 million in 2015. In his debut, he made quick work of the Dominican Summer League, hitting .350/.469/.523 with a 23/46 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His debut was so impressive, he received an incredibly aggressive assignment straight to full-season Low-A. There, Gimenez transitioned well in his stateside debut (107 wRC+). This year, he performed even better in the pitcher-friendly High-A Florida State League (.282/.348/.432), hitting for some power (8.2% HR/FB) and running wild (28 stolen bases). In late July, Gimenez advanced to Double-A Eastern League at just 19 years old, and held his own (100 wRC+).
Listed at 5’11” and 161 pounds, Gimenez has a lithe and wiry frame, with plenty of room to add more strength without sacrificing athleticism. Given his small stature, he presently possesses below-average raw power, and his approach generates a lot of low, hard contact (54.4% ground balls). As such, he presently has little game power, though some project his game power to eventually outgrow his raw power. Regardless whether his power fully develops, Gimenez is still a superb fantasy prospect. As an advanced hitter who uses the whole field, he earns plus grades for his hit tool from many observers. In addition, he is an aggressive and instinctual runner with above-average speed. Finally, Gimenez is a highly-regarded defender, providing him a high-floor.
Peak Projection: .285/.350/.420, 10-15 home runs, 20-25 stolen bases
8. Jorge Mateo, Oakland Athletics
At the trade deadline last year, the Athletics acquired Jorge Mateo from the Yankees as part of the package for Sonny Gray. Prior to and following the trade, he cruised in Double-A, hitting .296/.357/.521 with 8 home runs, 10 triples, and 24 stolen bases over 60 games. Notably, his perceived power breakout (9.9% HR/FB) made him far more than a one-dimensional fantasy asset (speed). Unfortunately, Mateo did not find the same success in Triple-A this year, regressing across the board.
Despite his disastrous season, not all is lost. Mateo still possesses game-changing 80-grade speed, borderline-average power, and enough hitting ability for the power and speed to play. Simply put, he remains very raw and overly aggressive, with poor plate discipline and developing instincts in nearly all aspects of his game. Arguably, Mateo is the highest risk/reward fantasy prospect. If everything falls right, however, he has as much upside as nearly any prospect. Like Adalberto Mondesi, Mateo has the type of upside worth the wait through all the growing pains.
Peak Projection: .245/.295/.400, 15-20 home runs, 40-45 stolen bases
9. Oneil Cruz, Pittsburgh Pirates
Oneil Cruz is a unique player. Some even call him a freak. With a tall (6’7″) and lean frame, he has a ton of remaining projection. This is a frightening eventuality considering he already has plus raw power to all fields (16.7% HR/FB). Ultimately, Cruz could develop 80-grade raw power, similar to other large sluggers, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. In addition to the power, he demonstrates promising hitting and contact ability despite his long levers. Further, Cruz is only beginning to tap into his power in games, with an approached geared for gap-to-gap line drives and hard grounders (53.3%).
With all that said, what makes Cruz so unique is he currently plays shortstop. The tallest major league shortstop in history is Cal Ripken, Jr. (6’4″). Granted, Cruz is highly unlikely to remain at shortstop long-term, especially as he fills out, and he currently is a below-average fielder with poor range. Similarly, he has above-average speed, which will almost certainly regress as he ages. Nonetheless, he has a huge arm and enough athleticism to play at either third base or right field. No matter where he plays, Cruz has immense fantasy upside.
Peak Projection: .265/.325/.500, 30-35 home runs
10. Xavier Edwards, San Diego Padres
The Padres selected Xavier Edwards 38th overall in 2018 Draft and signed him for a $2.6 million over-slot bonus to lure him away from his Vanderbilt commitment. Known for his 80-grade speed, he immediately showed off his wheels in his debut, totaling 22 stolen bases in just 45 games. Notably, Edwards displayed exceptional patience (15.9%), plate discipline, and contact ability. Although he has nominal power, he projects to develop solid pop as he fills out his 5’10” and 155 pound frame. With a contact-based, ground ball-heavy, and all-fields approach, however, his game power likely will always be modest. Nevertheless, his elite speed and on-base ability make him a potential game-changing table-setter. Long-term, Edwards likely profiles best at second base, but he has enough arm to stick at shortstop.
Peak Projection: .275/.360/.385, 5-10 home runs, 40-45 stolen bases
11. Luis Garcia, Washington Nationals
Over the last decade, the Nationals have experienced a lot of success on the international market. The most notable international signings include two starting outfielders, Juan Soto (2015) and Victor Robles (2013). In 2016, the Nationals made another splash, signing Yasel Antuna for $3.9 million and Luis Garcia for $1.3 million. This year, both Antuna and Garcia received the same aggressive assignment to Low-A. The younger of the two, 17-year-old Garcia, found the most success. After a sluggish April (.198/.255/.220), he was one of the top hitters in the South Atlantic League (.341/.371/.483). Less than two months after his 18th birthday, he received a promotion to High-A Carolina League, where he was the youngest player by nearly a year. There, Garcia continued to hit (.299/.338/.412), showing polish far beyond his years.
Given his performance at such a young age, it is not surprising Garcia is a potential plus hitter. With preternatural bat-to-ball skills and barrel control, he pounds the gaps and infield holes. While his linear swing plane generates mostly low, hard contact, he has some pull-side pop with remaining projection. In addition, Garcia has above-average speed, which some even consider plus or better, and he should contribute double-digit (or more) stolen bases. With that said, he is not without his warts. Like many young players, he is overly aggressive. Further, a left-handed hitter, Garcia struggles against same-sided pitching (.234/.250/.287). Finally, he remains a work-in-progress in the field, receiving playing time at second and third base as well, though he should profile at shortstop. Still, these foibles are understandable with extreme youth, and he carries far less risk than most 18-year-old prospects.
Peak Projection: .300/.345/.430, 10-15 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
12. Kevin Smith, Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays selected Kevin Smith in the fourth round of the 2017 draft, as a free-swinging power-hitter. In his debut, he was exactly that, hitting for power (.195 ISO) and suffering too much swing-and-miss (24.7% strikeouts and 15% swinging strikes). This year, however, Smith demonstrated improved plate discipline and more contact in Low-A Midwest League, leading to a breakout performance (.355/.407/.639). Then, after a late-May promotion to High-A Florida State League, he reverted back to his old form (23.7% strikeouts and 14.7% swinging strikes).
Whether the Low- or High-A version of Smith is to be believed, he is still a solid fantasy prospect. Given his track record, his High-A performance likely is closer to his actual skill. Indeed, his 18 home runs in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League are no mirage. His leveraged swing creates plenty of loft and taps into nearly all of his average-to-above raw power. While the power is legitimate, the stolen bases likely are not. Smith only has average speed, which plays up due to solid instincts. Defensively, Smith split time across the infield, though he profiles best at third or second base.
Peak Projection: .260/.315/.445, 20-25 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
13. Nick Gordon, Minnesota Twins
The son of former pitcher Tom Gordon and the brother of Dee Gordon, Nick Gordon is from yet another baseball family. The Twins selected him fifth overall in 2014, and, since then, he has moved steadily through the system, one level at a time. Last year, Gordon lit up Double-A in the first half, hitting .315/.376/.504 with 6 home runs, then finished the season hitting just .221/.304/.305. Again, this year, it was a tale of two halves. Over his first 59 games, between Double- and Triple-A, he was excellent (.335/.375/.511). Over the next 63 games, he was atrocious (.186/.237/.243). For whatever reason, Gordon falls apart over the summer. When he is on, he is a line-drive machine, peppering the gaps with hard contact. When he is off, he is overly aggressive, resulting in too much ineffectual contact. Meanwhile, Gordon is seeing more time at second base, though he is solid at shortstop.
Peak Projection: .270/.320/.425, 15-20 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
14. Jordan Groshans, Toronto Blue Jays
Optimistic observers believe the twelfth overall pick in the 2018 Draft, Jordan Groshans, is a potential plus hitter with plus power. With a lean 6’3″ frame and present above-average raw power, he certainly has room to add muscle and develop plus (or better) raw power. In addition, Groshans has a promising hit tool, buoyed by plus bat speed and an all-fields approach. Defensively, he split time almost equally between shortstop (51%) and third base (49%). Long-term, however, he likely profiles best at third base, with a strong arm, large frame, and average athleticism.
Peak Projection: .275/.340/.475, 25-30 home runs
15. Gavin Lux, Los Angeles Dodgers
With the name of an 80’s movie villain, Gavin Lux exemplifies the wealth of the Dodgers system. A former first round pick in 2016, he entered the year on the prospect periphery following a league-average performance in the Midwest League. This year, Lux advanced to the hitter-friendly confines of the California League, where he excelled (.324/.396/.520). While some of his performance can be written off as a product of his hitting environments, he similarly thrived upon promotion to Double-A (.324/.408/.495). Notably, Lux has posted identical strikeout-to-walk ratios the last two years (0.64 BB/K), displaying consistently superb plate discipline, patience, and contact ability. Furthermore, he is beginning to tap into his raw power, with a more leveraged swing, resulting in 11% less ground balls, 11% more line drives, and 6% more home runs-to-fly balls. With a solid hit tool, emerging power, and plus speed, Lux is a potential five-category middle infielder.
Peak Projection: .280/.355/.440, 15-20 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
16. Isaac Paredes, Detroit Tigers
The Tigers acquired Isaac Paredes from the Cubs as part of the package for Justin Wilson at the trade deadline last year. Following the trade, he scuffled, hitting just .217/.323/.348 for his new club. Despite his late season struggles, he began the season in pitcher-friendly High-A Florida State League. There, he hit for more game power (.196 ISO and 10.2% HR/FB) in spite of the more cavernous parks. Still just 19 years old, Paredes received a mid-season promotion to Double-A Eastern League, where he was even better (.321/.406/.458).
Throughout his career, Paredes has displayed a disciplined, high-contact approach, and it was on full display this year. Indeed, he had a microscopic 4.5% swinging strike rate in Double-A, and 6% on the year. Additionally, his game power is beginning to catch up to his above-average raw power. However, Paredes is extremely pull-heavy (57%) and his power plays almost exclusively to his pull-side. In the field, he lacks athleticism and range to play shortstop long-term, but should profile well at second or third base.
Peak Projection: .270/.350/.450, 20-25 home runs
17. Jasrado Chisholm, Arizona Diamondbacks
Last year was not kind to Jasrado Chisholm. Right when he began to heat up after a slow start, his season ended in May due to a torn meniscus. This year, he returned to Low-A, showcasing an intriguing blend of power (.228 ISO and 15.5% HR/FB) and speed (8 stolen bases). After a monstrous 5-for-6, triple, and two home run performance on July 16th, he received a promotion to High-A. Thereafter, Chisholm had his way with the California League, hitting .329/.369/.597 with 10 home runs (30% HR/FB!) and 9 stolen bases. While his all-fields power tantalizes, he continues to struggle with swing-and-miss (29.7% strikeouts and 15.6% swinging strikes). When he does make contact, however, it is loud, and his power is legit. Chisholm also shows promise at shortstop, and most project him to develop into an average defender.
Peak Projection: .250/.310/.455, 25-30 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
18. Wander Javier, Minnesota Twins
Signed by the Twins in 2015 for $4 million, Wander Javier is a potential all-around player. With a slight, but projectable, 6’1” frame, he already produces surprising pop generated by a quick bat and strong wrists. Javier remains raw on defense, but he draws praise for his arm strength and athleticism. Unfortunately, he suffered a setback from a shoulder injury this spring and underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. Consequently, he missed the entire season.
Peak Projection: .270/.350/.445, 20-25 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
19. Marco Luciano, San Francisco Giants
The Giants signed Marco Luciano for $2.6 million this summer. The preeminent power bat from the 2018 J2 international class, he already generates easy plus power. With a wiry and athletic 6’2″ frame, he could develop up to 70-grade raw power once he fills out. In addition, Luciano projects to be an above-average hitter due to his big bat speed and compact swing.
Peak Projection: Reply hazy, try again, or insert other non-committal Magic 8-Ball answer
20. Orelvis Martinez, Toronto Blue Jays
Like fellow 2018 J2 signee Marco Luciano, Orelvis Martinez has massive offensive upside and huge power. As such, he received a large, $3.5 million signing bonus from the Blue Jays. With a similarly projectable frame, Martinez possesses comparable upside to Luciano, and many of the same attributes: bat speed, a short stroke, and plus power.
Peak Projection: Reply hazy, try again, or insert other non-committal Magic 8-Ball answer
Elsewhere-Eligible Shortstop Prospects
Formerly shortstop prospects, these notable prospects are now currently playing another position, and, as such, are on previous or upcoming lists. This is where they rank as shortstop prospects:
Ryan Mountcastle, Baltimore Orioles (3B): between Kieboom and Gimenez
Luis Urias, San Diego Padres (2B): between Kieboom and Gimenez, behind Mountcastle
Jeter Downs, Cincinnati Reds (2B): between Paredes and Chisholm
Mark Vientos, New York Mets (3B): between Chisholm and Javier