THE DYNASTY GURU’S 2024 TOP 55 DYNASTY LEAGUE SHORTSTOP PROSPECTS #20-#55
The prospect mavens have been working hard over the past few months here at the TDG offices to bring you some of the best consensus at least in our opinion rankings of the top and not-so-top prospects in the game that will hopefully give you a leg up on your competition that just looks at the MLB.com rankings (with all due respect of course.) If you`ve been with us for a while you will generally see the same rollout as past years, one week will focus on outfielders, next on shortstops, so and so forth.
This year however we decided to break down our rankings into tiers and provide commentary for each tier as a whole with multiple Gurus chiming in where they see fit. This will provide more than just a single voice to the readers while letting the authors offer their opinions on players they deem worthy enough to write about. Hopefully, it will be a fun, informative read and you will come away with an idea of how a certain player is looked at by the industry.
As always, our rankings are geared towards a 15-team OBP roto league with a three to five-year view on our team.
This week we`ll be looking at the shortstop position.
This tier has tools for days, whether it`s Tommy Troy and Mitch Jebb with 80-grade speed or plus-plus power with Winokur and Luciano. You can dream on many of the guys in this tier, but they all come with warts. The Giants have come out and said that the shortstop position is Luciano`s to lose this year so it seems like he should get a legitimate shot to stick in the big leagues this season. He consistently makes hard contact…when he makes contact. Some players can make a low contact percentage work because they make the most out of their hits. It remains to be seen if Luciano can be one of those players, but the good news is he doesn`t chase much at 20% and has a 109mph 90th maxEV (Ryan).
One name here that I think gets overlooked far too much, is Ryan Bliss. We wrote a more in-depth spotlight on him with the Voyages of the Deep series last year, but I think we were able to bring him to some reader’s attention before he started to garner a more national spotlight. After getting traded to Seattle, he found his groove at Triple-A and finished the final 21 games of the year with a slash line of .329/.456/.659. He also added seven home runs and 11 stolen bases to his season stat line over that time and did it all while walking more than striking out. Don’t be shocked if he gets a shot at Seattle’s second base job during the 2024 season (Brian Labude).
This is the tier with potential for big in-season risers. Young players like Felnin Celesten, Echedry Vargas, and Welbyn Francisca are poised to see their stock take off in 2024. Tommy Troy and Tai Peete will be in their first full pro season and are the ones to watch for sure. Ryan Bliss was a power and speed monster in 2023, collecting 23 home runs and 55 stolen bases. If he keeps hitting he could be a force in the majors soon (Daniel Labude).
Two names jump out to me in this tier – Darrell Hernaiz and Kyren Paris – based on their proximity and theoretical long leashes. Hernaiz is considered the front-runner at shortstop for the A’s headed into ‘24. He’s going to be an accumulator type who’ll need PA and solid teammates surrounding him to have an impact in the fantasy game. Paris could get a shot starting at 2B this year for the Angels. He’s got plus speed and perhaps average power, so the potential exists for him to be rosterable early. If he hits consistently enough in an everyday role, 15 homers and 25 stolen bases could be the ceiling this year (Chris Knock).
|Rafael Ramirez Jr.
|Leodalis De Vries
Going this deep into the shortstop prospects probably has you wondering, what’s the point? The upside is the point. Leodalis De Vries and Jeral Perez are the two players I like the most in this tier. De Vries is all potential right now, having just signed with the San Diego Padres as part of the 2024 J15 class. He could be pushed aggressively in a similar manner to Ethan Salas or slow-play as is the norm with J15 signings. If he gets an aggressive assignment his stock could soar. If not, production in the Dominican Summer League (DSL) and then Rookie-ball will be vital to his value going forward. Perez, just finished Rookie-ball with a slash line of .257/.389/.503 and 11 home runs. The power here is intriguing as he also did well in the DSL in 2022, where he hit eight home runs. If you are in deep leagues and want one or two shortstop projects, these two should be your targets (Brian Labude).
We come to the best of the rest tier, not really though. Rafael Ramirez Jr. could be a force to reckon with in the near future after he put up a monster 26.3% walk rate in 2023. Definitely a target of mine this offseason. The most major league ready of this tier is Leo Jimenez. He is solid all around and an on-base machine (Daniel Labude).
The last prospect we ranked was Leonardo Balcazar at 55, whereas I had him listed as my 30th shortstop prospect. An ACL tear limited his game action last season, but he had started ‘23 strong .324/.427/.471 triple slash in 18 games. As you’ve likely gleaned from the SLG, power is the biggest question mark in his profile. If he ends up with average power, you’ll have a plus hit, plus speed MI type worthy of your MiLB roster slot. Patience will be necessary with Balcazar as the ACL injury will likely be impacting some of his game. But he has the tools to break away from the crowded Reds’ depth chart so keep an eye on his performance (Chris Knock).