Let’s be honest there’s no need to pussyfoot around the truth, we all give shortstop prospects a value boost in fantasy. We’re all looking for the next Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, or Francisco Lindor. Being able to fill our shortstop slot with a productive player doesn’t only sound homo-erotic, but is also a desirable position to be in as a fantasy owner. Wow, yeah, that didn’t sound much better. Moving along now, this lazy Sunday morning we discuss the next wave of those to man the six. We’re going to ignore the quintet of Seager, Turner, Arcia, Mondesi, and Anderson, if you don’t know all five of those guys and don’t have them marked on your watch lists in your RCL’s and re-draft leagues we have more work than I thought to do. For now let’s assume you have a general knowledge of top fantasy baseball prospects, and are looking to get beyond the surface of the big names with looming ETA’s. So we’re going to dive into some of the better up and comers at the SS position. Some of these guys are closer than others, but none are any higher in the minors than AA, and more than likely have ETA’s no closer than 2017. That’s enough of the small talk, let’s get to it.
Dansby Swanson, SS | Age: 22 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: A
2015 Stats: 97 PA, .289/.394/.482, 1 HR, 0 SB, 14.1% BB, 14.1% K
The first overall pick in this past June’s draft should be known to even the most numb nuttest of numb nuts out there reading along. He’s certainly the player with the most hype and highest expectations of those listed below. Keep in mind those are real life expectations we’re discussing, expectations that factor in lots of things we don’t care a whole heck of a lot about (i.e “leadership”, “guts”, “makeup”, and “defense”) until they effect our players fantasy value (I.e Jorge Soler before Schwarber died). Count me out of the over the top segment of prospectorius that throw around Derek Jeter comps like its stolen money at the gentleman’s club. I see Swanson’s ceiling more along the lines of .300/15/15 with good counting stats….”Wait..that’s sounds like Jeter Ralph!”. Well, yeah! I’m just saying he could also be a really good “ball player” but give you Neil Walker returns in fantasy. That’s not knocking Walker or Swanson (a lie I know), but he could very well be an ownable middle infidel in 12 team mixed leagues and nothing more. He’s one of the more advanced players in the minors and doesn’t look to have any issues of being blocked in Atlanta. He could reach the majors late in the season but more than likely will break through in 2017.
Brendan Rodgers, SS | Age: 19 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A
2015 Stats: 159 PA, .273/.340/.420, 3 HR, 4 SB, 9% BB, 23% K
Remember two weeks ago when people used to say “Trevor Story’s just keeping the seat warm for Rodgers”? Yeah they’ll be saying it again in the not too distant future. He’s starting the season with the class A Asheville Tourists of the South Atlantic League. Keep in mind Rodgers is just 19, and has lots of developing to do. With that said, he’s got huge offensive potential and had a very solid professional debut fresh out of high school. He’s tricky to project because he’s so young, but a future middle of the order bat from the shortstop position is the label most commonly applied. So who knows maybe Rodgers is the next Story who’s the next Tulo. So does that make Rodgers Tulo3? I wouldn’t expect to see him surface until the end of the 2018 season the earliest. So if you do roster him prepare to be patient.
Franklin Barreto, SS | Age: 20 | ETA: 2017| 2016 Level: AA
2015 Stats: 364 PA, .302/.333/.500, 13 HR, 8 SB, 4% BB, 18% K
The jewel of the A’s side of the Josh Donaldson trade, Barreto is fresh off a solid showing in camp, and headed to AA Midland to begin the season. He’s a player who’s future as a shortstop has been of much debate. For now, he’s sticking at shortstop, and for his fantasy value that’s a good thing. Because his bat is good, good enough that if he sticks at short he could easily develop into a top 5 option at the position. He owns a 60 grade hit tool with power and speed potential. He’s young for the AA level, but has rarely struggled through his first 3 years as a pro. His potential ceiling probably sits somewhere around .300/20/25. Whether that’s at shortstop or in the outfield is the biggest question mark with Barreto. I’d expect to see him surface sometime next year, though he could have a cup of coffee in September this 2016
Jorge Mateo, SS | Age: 20 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 500 PA, .278/.345/.392, 2 HR, 82 SB, 9% BB, 20% K
80 speed alert! Mateo lead the minors is steals last season with 82 between low and high A. So he’s got a bit of speed you might say. As for the rest of his toolset, so far the hit tool has proved solid, but the power he shows in batting practice has yet to translate to game action. If he’s able to hone his hitting skills and develop his power he could potentially be a fantasy superstar. He turns 21 in June and is starting the season with the Tampa Yankees I wouldn’t expect to see him surface in New York until 2018. A .300/15/40 player at the top of a Yankees lineup that’s hopefully reloaded by then.
Javier Guerra, SS | Age: 20 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 477 PA, .279/.329/.449, 15 HR, 7 SB, 6% BB, 23% K
Part of the haul the Padres received from the Red Sox for Craig Kimbrel. He’s flashed excellent defense that should keep him at short while also accelerating his time of arrival in San Diego. He showed nice pop last season in low A Greenville, slugging 15 homers and putting a little extra helium in his prospect status. He’s never going to be a blazer on the basepaths, he’s more in the model of a Jhonny Peralta with good power, solid hitting, and good defense. He’s started the year at high A Lake Elsinore of the California League, but AA San Antonio can’t be far away. Should be up in 2017, though some see a more aggressive timeline, I’m not one of them.
Alex Bregman, SS | Age: 22 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AA
2015 Stats: 311 PA, .294/.366/.415, 4 HR, 13 SB, 9% BB, 10% K
Talk about an aggressive timeline, Bregman started the season at AA Corpus Christi this week. Which is impressive when you consider he wasn’t even playing pro baseball a year ago, and even more impressive when you consider how strong the Astros system is. The second overall pick from the June draft has been on the fast track from the moment he hit the field with Quad Cities; even if his showing there was subpar. Bregman looks to be somewhere around a .280-.300 hitter with 10-15 homer power and some mid-teen steal speed. He’s a very safe pick but sort of boring when compared to Swanson and Rodgers, two players to whom he’s irreversibly linked. I’d expect Bregman to be up later this season or early next but where he plays is the question. He’s blocked at second and short, so the logical conclusion is he eventually moves to third to see everyday at bats.
Gleybar Torres, SS| Age: 19 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 538 PA, .287/.346/.376, 3 HR, 22 SB, 8.17% BB, 21.3% K
Here’s what I wrote about Torres back in February. “After following up a strong 2014 with an even better 2015, Torres finds himself at the top of several organizational prospect lists, and it’s tough to knock the ranking. As is, Torres brings four tools to the table with untapped raw power potential. This type of evaluation leaves many projecting the finished product to be a .280 hitter with 20/15 upside. Keep in mind, he’s a ways off, and is facing a hard pros-block with Russell locked in at short and newly signed Ben Zobrist at the keystone. So whether he ever gets to hit in a stacked Cubs lineup is a clear uncertainty. Don’t be shocked if Torres is in another teams system this time next year. Regardless of those factors he’s been within the top 50 of nearly every prospect list this offseason.” He’ll begin the season manning the center of the infield for Class A Myrtle Beach with 2015 first round pick Ian Happ. He’s still a few years away and (as mentioned previously) blocked by Addison Russell so don’t be shocked if he’s included in a package to upgrade the major league club at some point.
Christian Arroyo, SS | Age: 20 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AA
2015 Stats: 409 PA, .304/.334/.459, 9 HR, 5 SB, 5% BB, 18% K
I’m admittedly one of the bigger fans of Arroyo out there, and while he’s in some ways boring from a tool standpoint, he’s safe. He profiles as a .300 type hitter with sold 15-20 homer potential, and little to no speed. He’s going to start the season in AA Richmond, and could find his way to San Francisco at some point next season. At the moment he’s blocked in the middle infield by Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik, and at 3rd by Matt Duffy, so there is some question as to where he fits immediately.