2019 Top 70 Fantasy Shortstop Prospects, Part 2
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: Kevin Maitan, Los Angeles Angels (3B); and Jonathan Ornelas, Texas Rangers (3B). To see where these prospects would rank among shortstop prospects, scroll to the bottom of the article.
Top 21-70 Fantasy Shortstop Prospects
|Rank||Player||Primary Position||Secondary Position||Age||2018 Level||ETA|
|21||Nico Hoerner CHC||SS||-||21.88||AZL, NWL, A||2021|
|22||Ronny Mauricio NYM||SS||-||17.98||GCL, APP||2022|
|23||Freudis Nova HOU||SS||2B||19.21||GCL||2022|
|24||Brice Turang MIL||SS||2B||19.35||AZL, PIO||2022|
|25||Yu Chang CLE||SS||3B/2B||23.61||AAA||2019|
|26||Cole Tucker PIT||SS||-||22.74||AA||2019|
|27||Anderson Tejeda TEX||SS||2B||20.91||A+||2020|
|28||Luis Rengifo LAA||SS||2B||22.09||A+, AA, AAA||2019|
|29||Jeremiah Jackson LAA||SS||-||19.01||AZL, PIO||2022|
|30||Brayan Rocchio CLE||SS||3B/2B||18.21||DSL, AZL||2022|
|31||Jeremy Eierman OAK||SS||-||22.55||NYP||2021|
|32||Ryan Vilade COL||SS||-||20.11||A||2021|
|33||Lucius Fox TB||SS||-||21.74||A+, AA||2020|
|34||Willi Castro DET||SS||2B||21.93||AA, AAA||2019|
|35||Tyler Freeman CLE||SS||2B||19.85||NYP||2021|
|36||Mauricio Dubon MIL||SS||2B||24.69||AAA||2019|
|37||Noelvi Marte SEA||SS||-||17.45||N/A||2024|
|38||Luis Garcia PHI||SS||-||18.49||GCL||2023|
|39||Aaron Bracho CLE||SS||-||17.93||DSL||2023|
|40||Nicky Lopez KC||SS||2B||24.04||AA, AAA||2019|
|41||Miguel Hiraldo TOR||SS||3B||18.56||DSL, GCL||2023|
|42||Gabriel Rodriguez CLE||SS||-||17.10||N/A||2024|
|43||Wenceel Perez DET||SS||-||19.41||GCL, NYP, A||2022|
|44||Santiago Espinal TOR||SS||2B/3B||24.38||A+, AA||2020|
|45||Adam Hall BAL||SS||2B||19.85||NYP||2021|
|46||Terrin Vavra COL||SS||2B||21.88||NWL||2021|
|47||Logan Warmoth TOR||SS||2B||23.56||GCL, A+||2020|
|48||Joe Dunand MIA||SS||-||23.52||A+, AA||2020|
|49||Shervyen Newton NYM||SS||-||19.93||APP||2022|
|50||Abiatal Avelino SF||SS||2B||24.12||AA, AAA, MLB||-|
|51||Aramis Ademan CHC||SS||-||20.54||A+||2021|
|52||Yasel Antuna WAS||SS||2B||19.42||A||2022|
|53||Kevin Newman PIT||SS||2B||25.65||AAA, MLB||-|
|54||Edmundo Sosa STL||SS||2B/3B||23.06||AA, AAA, MLB||-|
|55||Cadyn Grenier BAL||SS||-||22.41||A||2021|
|56||Owen Miller SD||SS||3B||22.37||NWL, A||2021|
|57||Jose Devers MIA||SS||2B||19.31||A, A+||2021|
|58||Ji-Hwan Bae PIT||SS||-||19.67||GCL||2022|
|59||Osiris Johnson MIA||SS||-||18.44||GCL, A||2022|
|60||Jose Garcia CIN||SS||2B||20.98||A||2021|
|61||Alexander Vargas NYY||SS||-||17.41||N/A||2024|
|62||Gabriel Arias SD||SS||3B||19.09||A||2021|
|63||Taylor Walls TB||SS||-||22.72||A||2020|
|64||Juan Guerrero COL||SS||-||17.55||N/A||2024|
|65||Omar Estevez LAD||SS||2B||21.09||A+||2020|
|66||Junior Sanquintin CLE||SS||-||17.22||N/A||2024|
|67||Ronny Brito LAD||SS||2B/3B||20.02||DSL, PIO||2022|
|68||Antoni Flores BOS||SS||-||18.46||DSL, GCL||2023|
|69||Richie Martin BAL||SS||2B||24.27||AA||2019|
|70||Manuel Geraldo SF||SS||-||22.51||A||2020|
21. Nico Hoerner, Chicago Cubs
|AZL, NWL, A||0.327||0.450||0.571||49||2||6/1||4/9|
As a Stanford hitter, Nico Hoerner utilized a flat and fundamentally sound swing plane designed to generate low, hard contact. After the Cubs drafted him 24th overall this year, he reportedly altered his swing. This change may be responsible for his small power outburst since turning pro. In fact, he has as many home runs between his debut and the Arizona Fall League (3) than he totaled in 751 college plate appearances.
With a quick bat, strong wrists, and solid leg drive, Hoerner possesses average raw power, which plays down in games due to his high-contact, line-drive approach. During his debut, he only hit 8 fly balls (18.6%), and, without a more leveraged swing, his game power will remain below-average. While power is often the main question surrounding Hoerner, his other tools nearly all project to above-average (except arm strength). A polished and high-character prospect, he likely will move quickly through the minors with nice upside should his game power tick up.
Peak Projection: .285/.335/.420, 10-15 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
22. Ronny Mauricio, New York Mets
Last year, the Mets invested $2.1 million in Ronny Mauricio. Listed at 6’3″ and 166 pounds, he is as projectable as prospects come. Already, he is beginning to add strength to his athletic and gangly frame, leading many to project future plus raw power once he fills out. A switch-hitter, Mauricio has a feel to hit from both sides of the plate, and profiles as an average (or better) hitter. In his debut, he held his own in stateside rookie ball, advancing all the way to the Appalachian League at just 17 years old. While it remains an open questions whether he can stick at shortstop long-term, especially as he fills out, he is a promising defender with a strong arm. As a potential middle-of-the-order bat with a chance to stay at shortstop, Mauricio has huge upside.
Peak Projection: .270/.315/.465, 25-30 home runs
23. Freudis Nova, Houston Astros
Freudis Nova signed with the Astros for $1.2 million in 2016, after a $2.5 million deal with the Marlins fell through for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. This year, he made his stateside debut in the Gulf Coast League, flashing hitting ability, pull-side power, and some speed. Still very raw, Nova is extremely swing- and pull-happy (62.2%!). In fact, he only saw 231 pitches, and just 38 balls, in 157 plate appearances! However, his tools are tantalizing, with plus bat speed, above-average power projection, and present plus speed. In the field, Nova remains a work-in-progress, and likely shifts to second or third base long-term.
Peak Projection: .265/.310/.440, 20-25 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
24. Brice Turang, Milwaukee Brewers
Following an impressive performance with Team USA last summer, Brice Turang was an early favorite to be a top-5 pick in the 2018 Draft. This spring, his body and raw power did not develop as many hoped. In fact, Baseball America notes many teams do not project Turang for “much more than fringe-average raw power.” Despite modest power, he is still an excellent bat. A lithe left-handed hitter, he drives the ball gap-to-gap with authority and utilizes his plus speed on the bases. Further, he exhibits advanced plate discipline and patience, with an impressive 34-to-31 strikeout to walk ratio in his debut. Although the bat alone is legitimate, Turang also shines in the field, displaying the requisite arm strength, hands, and fluidity for shortstop.
Peak Projection: .275/.360/.385, 5-10 home runs, 20-25 stolen bases
25. Anderson Tejeda, Texas Rangers
Anderson Tejeda transitioned well to High-A Carolina League, improving upon his performance in Low-A in 2017 in nearly every way. Specifically, he walked more (8.1% to 9.4%) with less swing-and-miss (29.6% to 27.2% strikeouts, and 15.9% to 14% swinging strikes), while hitting for more power (.165 to .180 ISO, and 8.2% to 17.3% HR/FB). Although his contact issues may prevent him from becoming anything more than borderline-average at the plate, his above-average raw power and all-fields approach should carry his profile. Furthermore, he has enough athleticism and speed to stick at shortstop and chip in some stolen bases.
Peak Projection: .250/.310/.425, 20-25 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
26. Yu Chang, Cleveland Indians
Yu Chang is a poor-man’s three-true-outcome slugger. A late-count hitter (4.07 pitches/plate appearance), he regularly accumulates plenty of walks (8.5%) and strikeouts (27.8%) despite manageable swing-and-miss (11.1% swinging strikes). In addition, Chang has a quick, upper cut swing, which generates a lot of fly balls (44.1%) and allows him to tap into his average-to-above raw power. For the first time this year, he received playing time at second and third base, providing potential flexibility with Francisco Lindor locked in at shortstop. Moving forward, Chang may fill the void created by the trade of Yandy Diaz, and serve as a long-term replacement when Jason Kipnis presumably leaves after the season.
Peak Projection: .240/.315/.420, 20-25 home runs
27. Cole Tucker, Pittsburgh Pirates
Tall (6’3″) and lean, Cole Tucker was uncertain to remain at shortstop, but a strong bet to add strength to his frame and develop some pop. While he has quieted doubts about whether he can stick at shortstop, his long-awaited power development likely will never come. Over the last two years, Tucker has just 7 home runs in 684 plate appearances in Double-A (3.2% HR/FB). Regardless, he is a solid hitter with above-average speed aided by instinctual and aggressive base running. Additionally, he is a disciplined, all-fields hitter, and he should profile well as a future table setter. This year, Tucker struggled over his first 35 games, hitting just .195/.285/.263 and going 0-for-5 on the bases. For the rest of the year, he was solid, slashing .281/.349/.388 and notably amassing 35 stolen bases (83.3%).
Peak Projection: .270/.340/.380, 5-10 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
28. Luis Rengifo, Los Angeles Angels
|A+, AA, AAA||0.299||0.399||0.452||502||7||41/16||75/75|
Few prospects experienced as big of a breakout season as Luis Rengifo. Prior to the year, he had never played above Low-A, and he changed organizations twice, quietly traded from the Mariners to the Rays in August, then to the Angels in March. By mid-July this year, however, Rengifo advanced all the way from High-A to Triple-A. Along the way, he hit and hit for some pop from both sides of the plate (50 extra-base hits), stole a bunch of bags, and displayed exceptional plate discipline (12.7% strikeouts and walks). What is not to like? Well, Rengifo has little over-the-fence power (5.6% HR/FB), and he only has average speed, which shows in his 71.9% success rate (just 6-for-12 in Triple-A). In addition, he lacks ideal range, footwork, or arm strength for shortstop, and likely profiles best at second base or as a utility infielder.
Peak Projection: .280/.355/.390, 5-10 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
The Best of the Rest
2019 Shortstop Prospect Sleepers
The following prospects may rise significantly with strong showings in 2019. Each has immense upside, but each is also years away from the majors.
Wenceel Perez, Detroit Tigers. The Tigers signed Perez for $550,000 in 2016. In his stateside debut this year, he blitzed through three levels to full-season Low-A (.312/.363/.429). Notably, Perez displayed a potential plus hit tool, with a disciplined, high-contact approach and a feel for all-fields contact. In addition, he has plus speed and athleticism, and most observers project him to stick at shortstop long-term. Whether he develops meaningful power is uncertain, and, currently, his raw power is well-below-average.
Shervyen Newton, New York Mets. Like Ronny Mauricio, Newton has a highly projectable 6’4″ frame. As such, he likely is only just touching the surface of his power potential. This year, he kept pace with teammate Mark Vientos in the Appalachian League (.280/.408/.449). An extreme late-count hitter (4.26 pitches/plate appearance), Newton understandably walks (17.3%) and strikes out (31.6%) a lot. When he makes contact, however, it is often loud, and his smooth swing generates line drives to all fields.
Yasel Antuna, Washington Nationals. Initially, Antuna, not Luis Garcia, was the more heralded of the Nationals’ 2016 international signees, earning a $3.9 million bonus. While Garcia thrived in an aggressive assignment to Low-A, Antuna did not (.220/.293/.331). Right when he was turning the corner in July (.286/.338/.508), his season ended due to Tommy John surgery. Although overwhelmed for most of the year, Antuna still showed promise. With some natural hitting ability, some power, and some speed, he could provide a little of everything.
Others of Note:
- Gabriel Arias, San Diego Padres. Although Arias has yet to hit much (.248/.305/.343 in his career), he still projects to develop average hit and power tools while providing excellent defense. Encouragingly, he hit .299/.372/.545 with 5 home runs over his last 36 games in Low-A.
- Ronny Brito, Los Angeles Dodgers. Signed by the Dodgers for $2 million in 2015, Brito has slowly progressed through rookie ball. Known primarily for his slick defense, his bat finally showed signs of life this year in the hitter-friendly Pioneer League (.288/.352/.489, but with 30.3% strikeouts).
- Manuel Geraldo, San Francisco Giants. Last year, Geraldo was atrocious in Low-A (.165/.200/.278), causing the Giants to demote him back to short-season ball. Returning to the level this year, he rebounded (.294/.337/.385), flashing power, athleticism, and a feel to hit. Remarkably, Geraldo hits nearly everything on the ground (66.6%) and still manages to occasionally launch a home run.
Close to the Show: 40-Man Roster Shortstop Prospects
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.
Willi Castro, Detroit Tigers. Following a breakout season as one of the youngest players in High-A Carolina League (.290/.337/.424), Castro initially struggled in Double-A this year (.245/.303/.350). At the trade deadline, the Tigers acquired him from the Indians for Leonys Martin. The trade was a complete coup for the Tigers, as Martin played just six games before succumbing to a season-ending injury while Castro caught fire with his new organization (.324/.366/.562). At just 21 years old, he received a promotion to Triple-A at the end of the year. A switch-hitter, Castro excels from both sides of the plate, utilizing a line-drive stroke with some pop and above-average speed.
Mauricio Dubon, Milwaukee Brewers. A torn ACL suffered in early May derailed a huge start to the season for Dubon in Triple-A (.343/.348/.574). Despite the gaudy power numbers, he only has modest raw power. Even so, he has solid bat-to-ball skills and above-average-to-plus speed. Given the struggles of Orlando Arcia and the current second base vacancy, Dubon should receive an opportunity to compete for regular playing time this year.
Abiatel Avelino, San Francisco Giants. The Giants acquired Avelino from the Yankees for Andrew McCutchen in August. During the season, he bounced between Double-A, where he was dominant (.337/.392/.553 with 10 home runs and 15 stolen bases), and Triple-A, where he was poor (.252/.291/.372). Following the trade, he even received a late season major league promotion. Ultimately, Avelino likely profiles as a solid utility player with a decent bat, some speed, and nominal power.
Others of Note:
- Kevin Newman, Pittsburgh Pirates. A former first round pick, Newman made his major league debut this year after a strong season in Triple-A (.302/.350/.407 with 28 stolen bases). An aggressive, high-contact hitter, he rarely suffers swing-and-miss (10.5% strikeouts and 4.7% swinging strikes) and slaps the ball to all fields. With next to no power, however, he will provide only empty batting average and a handful of stolen bases, but not enough to make him a solid fantasy asset outside of deep leagues.
- Edmundo Sosa, St. Louis Cardinals. Like Avelino, Sosa received a brief, three-game debut for the Cardinals in September. Prior to his debut, he had a nearly league-average season between Double- and Triple-A (.270/.313/.420) at just 22 years old. Promisingly, Sosa hit for some power (9.2% HR/FB) with plenty of hard contact, after a powerless 2017 season.
- Richie Martin, Baltimore Orioles. Selected immediately after Newman in the 2015 Draft, Martin has a similarly strong season in Double-A this year (.300/.368/.439 with 25 stolen bases). For whatever reason, the Athletics did not add him to the 40-man roster, and the Orioles promptly picked him first overall in the Rule 5 Draft this fall. Like Newman, Martin has nominal game power, which is a partly a product of a ground ball-heavy approach (57.8%). With even less hitting ability than Newman, however, he is unlikely to provide much fantasy value even if he wins a starting spot alongside Jonathan Villar.
Close to the Show: High-A & Above Shortstop Prospects
The road for prospects is long and winding. These prospects are one step closer, already reaching High-A or above.
Lucius Fox, Tampa Bay Rays. If you are reading this article, you are unlikely to confuse Fox with the comic book character by the same name. This Lucius Fox initially signed with the Giants for $6 million before changing organizations a year later in a trade for Matt Moore. A potential top-of-the-order hitter, he has elite, double-plus speed with a refined, disciplined approach. Still somewhat projectable, Fox may develop double-digit home run power, but presently has very little pop.
Nicky Lopez, Kansas City Royals. A fifth round pick in 2016, Lopez is now on the cusp of the majors, following an excellent season between Double- and Triple-A (.308/.382/.417). Although he possesses little power, he exercises exceptional plate discipline (52-to-60 strikeout-to-walk ratio), makes a ton of contact, and rarely swings and misses (5.5% swinging strikes). In addition to his promising hit tool, Lopez is an above-average runner and defender.
Santiago Espinal, Toronto Blue Jays. Selected five rounds after Lopez in the 2016 Draft, Espinal enjoyed a similarly strong season. His stellar performance in High-A Carolina League (.313/.363/.477) led the Blue Jays to acquire him from the Red Sox for Steve Pearce in late-June. At the plate, Espinal is a high-contact, line-drive hitter with burgeoning pull-side power and above-average speed. Meanwhile, he provides solid defense at shortstop, second base, and third base, and profiles as a bat-first utility infielder with upside for more.
Others of Note:
- Aramis Ademan, Chicago Cubs. Signed for $2 million by the Cubs in 2015, Ademan advanced all the way to full-season ball last year at just 18 years old. Despite struggling in Low-A (.244/.269/.378), he spent the year in High-A, where he floundered (.207/.291/.273). Much of his terrible performance can be dismissed as a product of his youth and his aggressive assignment. Ademan still has an advanced approach and possesses a smooth left-handed stroke with natural loft and pull-side power.
- Omar Estevez, Los Angeles Dodgers. A part of the Dodgers’ international spending spree in 2015, Estevez received a $6 million signing bonus based on his promising bat. Not until this year did he begin to make good on that investment, slashing .278/.336/.456 in hitter-friendly High-A. Still just 20 years old and extremely raw, Estevez is pull-heavy (56.4%) and prone to swing-and-miss. The hit/power upside remains, however, and he could develop into a bat-first middle infielder.
- Jose Devers, Miami Marlins. Pencil-thin (6’0″ and 155 pounds), Devers has some remaining physical projection to flirt with double-digit home runs at maturity. Presently, he is a high-contact, slap-hitter, utilizing his plus speed to beat out infield hits.
2017 Draft Shortstop Prospects
The 2017 Draft included many intriguing shortstop prospects, some disappointed and some surprised in their first full professional season.
Ryan Vilade, Colorado Rockies. A second round pick, Vilade had an impressive debut at just 18 years old in the Pioneer League (.308/.438/.496). Notably, he exhibited a disciplined, all-fields approach beyond his years. While his approach remained excellent, his power completely disappeared in Low-A (.274/.353/.368). This is especially concerning as he played half his games in Asheville’s bandbox. Further, he struggled in the field, and he is highly likely to move to third base long-term. Positively, Vilade did turn his season around in July, hitting .316/.379/.428 the rest of the year. Should his game power return, he has significant upside, with best-case scenario above-average hit and power tools.
Tyler Freeman, Cleveland Indians. A competitive balance selection (71st overall), Freeman has done nothing but hit in his brief professional career. This year, he was one of the top performing hitters in the New York-Penn League (.352/.405/.511). Freeman is an aggressive hitter with superb bat-to-ball skills resulting in extreme levels of contact and very little swing-and-miss (3% swinging strikes). Despite his swing-happy approach, he manages to expertly spray line drives to all fields with developing pop. A bat-first infielder, Freeman is an average athlete with limited arm strength likely destined for second base.
Adam Hall, Baltimore Orioles. One day younger than Tyler Freeman, Hall went off the board eleven picks earlier. Following the draft, an oblique injury limited him to just two games. This year, he joined Freeman in the New York-Penn League. After a painfully slow start (.228/.310/.279), Hall exploded in August, hitting .395/.459/.523 with 16 stolen bases over his last 24 games. Still a raw prospect with plus speed, he has intriguing upside if he taps into more power as he physically matures.
Others of Note:
- Logan Warmoth, Toronto Blue Jays. As a polished college bat, Warmoth greatly disappointed in his full-season debut in High-A (.248/.322/.319). Missing parts of May, June, and July due to injury, he likely suffered at the plate as a result. At his best, Warmoth is an above-average hitter with average (give or take) tools across the board.
- Joe Dunand, Miami Marlins. The nephew of Alex Rodriguez, Dunand is a legitimate home run threat with plus, all-fields raw power. His hit tool and defense, however, are both works in progress. At the plate, he is prone to swing-and-miss (24.4% strikeouts and 15% swinging strikes), which causes his power to play down in games. Further, his limited range and athleticism fit far better at third base.
- Taylor Walls, Tampa Bay Rays. A third round pick, Walls shined in Low-A Midwest League (.304/.393/.428), showcasing a patient, disciplined, and high-contact approach. While he lacks much game power at present, he can put a charge into the ball to all fields. Further, he is an aggressive, instinctual runner, despite average speed, tallying 31 stolen bases.
2018 Draft Shortstop Prospects
The 2018 Draft included many intriguing shortstop prospects, from raw high school teenagers to seasoned college bats.
Jeremiah Jackson, Los Angeles Angels. A monster spring performance elevated Jackson into the second round. In his debut, he continued to impress, making quick work of the Arizona League (.317/.374/.598) before hitting a wall in the Pioneer League (.198/.260/.396). A wiry and projectable athlete, Jackson already flashes significant, all-fields raw power for a player with such a slight frame (6’0″ and 165 pounds). Further, he is a well-regarded hitter with average-to-above speed. Ultimately, Jackson could develop above-average hit, power, and speed tools, providing huge fantasy upside.
Jeremy Eierman, Oakland Athletics. After a huge 2017 season (.313/.431/.675) alongside teammate Jake Burger, Eierman regressed this year (.287/.379/.516). As a result, he fell to 70th overall in the draft. Following the draft, he also struggled in his debut (.235/.283/.381). Still, he possesses significant upside, with excellent bat speed, high exit velocities, and plus raw power. In addition, Eierman is an aggressive, instinctual base runner, making the most of his average speed. Of course, he has a questionable hit tool, which was on full display during most of the year, and his limited athleticism casts doubt on his future defensive home. Even if he moves to third base and his stolen bases numbers are more modest, Eierman still can fill up the box score with his power and aggressive play.
Terrin Vavra, Colorado Rockies. Vavra earned first-team All-America honors following a huge junior season (.386/.455/.614). A bat-first middle-infielder, he landed in the perfect spot (Colorado) to maximize his fantasy value. In his first taste of pro ball, he excelled in the Northwest League (.302/.396/.467). Vavra is a polished, line-drive hitter with a patient approach and some pop. Next year, he likely will put up big numbers in either Low-A Asheville or High-A Lancaster.
Others of Note:
- Cadyn Grenier, Baltimore Orioles. Due to his excellent fielding, Grenier forced his teammate Nick Madrigal to second base. Given his defensive value, he has a high-floor as a likely major league contributor. Whether his bat and legs will provide fantasy value is an open question. Indeed, Grenier had a terrible debut (.216/.297/.333) and he does not have a great track record of success at the plate. However, he possesses some raw power and plus speed.
- Owen Miller, San Diego Padres. A third round pick, Miller received typical aggressive assignments from the Padres after the draft, even playing in the Double-A playoffs. At each stop, he thrived, hitting .335/.395/.440 in the Northwest League, .336/.368/.496 in Low-A, and .357 in the Double-A playoffs. Described as a “gamer,” Miller is a scrappy small-school player who could surprise.
- Osiris Johnson, Miami Marlins. At just 17 years old, Johnson was one of the youngest players in the draft. Despite his youth and raw tools, he had a solid debut in the Gulf Coast League (.301/.333/.447). Surprisingly, the Marlins then promoted him all the way to Low-A, where he understandably struggled (.188/.205/.294). A physical specimen, Johnson has huge power potential with present plus bat speed which generates loud, but infrequent, contact.
2017 International Free Agent Shortstop Prospects
A year after their touted signing (or under-the-radar signing), these prospects experienced their first taste of professional baseball.
Brayan Rocchio, Cleveland Indians. Rocchio is a less-heralded member of a huge 2017 international class for the Indians, including Aaron Bracho (below) and George Valera. While Bracho and Valera succumbed to injuries in their debuts, he blew through the Dominican Summer and Gulf Coast Leagues (.335/.390/.442). A switch-hitter, Rocchio has elite bat-to-ball skills and barrel control from both sides of the plate. As such, many project him to be a plus hitter with plus speed. Additionally, he has plenty of remaining projection to develop double-digit home run power.
Luis Garcia, Philadelphia Phillies. Do not confuse this Luis Garica with the Nationals’ star prospect or the Phillies’ reliever by the same name. He netted a $2.5 million bonus on the basis of his excellent hit tool, plus speed, and advanced defense. This year, he was the batting champion of the Gulf Coast League at just 17 years old (.369/.433/.488). Like Rocchio, Garcia could develop three plus tools: hit, speed, and defense.
Aaron Bracho, Cleveland Indians. Bracho received the largest signing bonus from the Indians’ 2017 international class ($1.5 million). A switch-hitter, he employs a short, powerful swing from both sides of the plate to make hard, gap-to-gap contact. As such, he has upside to both hit and hit for power. Unfortunately, he failed to debut in short-season ball due to an arm injury.
Others of Note:
- Miguel Hiraldo, Toronto Blue Jays. Like Bracho, Hiraldo is a promising bat that could hit and hit for power. Signed for $750,000, he performed well in his debut in the Dominican Summer League (.313/.381/.453), earning a brief stateside showing in the Gulf Coast League. With limited athleticism, however, Hiraldo likely will move to third base long-term.
- Jose Garcia, Cincinnati Reds. Technically, Garcia is a member of the 2016/2017 international class, but he did not sign until June 2017 for $5 million. The Reds then aggressively assigned him immediately to full-season Low-A this year. There, Garcia struggled acclimating to stateside professional baseball, hitting just .196/.238/.262 through late-June. Once settled in, however, he was solid, slashing .288/.330/.424 with 5 home runs and 9 stolen bases. Garcia is a plus runner with some pop, a strong arm, and a chance to hit.
- Antoni Flores, Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox made a splash in 2017, signing Daniel Flores (RIP), Danny Diaz, and Antoni Flores ($1.4 million). In his debut, he showed well in the Dominican Summer League (.347/.439/.510) and briefly played in the Gulf Coast League before an injury ended his season.
2018 International Free Agent Shortstop Prospects
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.
Noelvi Marte, Seattle Mariners. Like Marco Luciano and Orelvis Martinez, Marte has explosive bat speed and significant raw power potential. Already, he flashes above-average raw power, with plenty of remaining projection for more. Given his below-average athleticism, most observers believe he will move to third base.
Gabriel Rodriguez, Cleveland Indians. Rodriguez oozes physical projection (6’2″ and 174 pounds) with emerging raw power and a compact stroke. His advanced feel to hit and mature approach have lead some observers to assign a future 60-grade to his hit tool.
Ji-Hwan Bae, Pittsburgh Pirates. Like Jose Garcia above, Bae is technically a member of the prior international class. A casualty of the Braves’ punishment for international violations, he eventually signed with the Pirates for $1.25 million in March 2018. Bae has plus speed, advanced plate discipline, an all-fields approach, and developing power. In mid-October, a South Korean court found him guilty of assaulting his former girlfriend. Expect MLB discipline forthcoming.
Others of Note:
- Alexander Vargas, New York Yankees. A prototypical shortstop prospect, Vargas has plus speed, strong defensive skills, and modest power.
- Juan Guerrero, Colorado Rockies. Guerrero is a projectable (6’1″ and 160 pounds), line-drive hitter with a feel for all-fields contact.
- Junior Sanquintin, Cleveland Indians. Sanquintin has power upside rivaling the top international signings; however, he is an aggressive hitter with swing-and-miss issues.
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:
Kevin Maitan, Los Angeles Angels (3B): between Rocchio and Eierman
Jonathan Ornelas, Texas Rangers (3B): between Perez and Espinal