Over the past few seasons few positions have gotten more hype than shortstop. With players like Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Alex Bregman, Addison Russell, Amed Rosario, the names go on and on. Some of these names were obviously major difference makers in fantasy, while others have ridden “real baseball” prospect hype to overrated status. Much like with catchers on the mainstream prospect lists, the demands of the position defensively significantly increase these player’s values. We don’t care about defense though, there’s only two questions we ask ourselves as dynasty managers. Does this Rotowear shirt make me look fat? No, wait, wrong question. We ask ourselves A. Can he hit? B. Will he stick at the position? The latter of which is ehhh, with a side of meh sauce. I really only care if they can hit. If a player is moved to second, third, or center, it really doesn’t matter, you know, as long as the skills play. I understand position scarcity, but my focus when drafting, adding, or trading for prospects in fantasy leagues is to land the best possible hitters. With this in mind I present to you the Top 10 Shortstop Prospects for 2018 Fantasy Baseball.
Not since his father was a pretend Microsoft Paint artist have I been this jacked about a Tatis. He ranked 55th in my Mid-season prospect list, but has done nothing but hit for power, steal bases, and show ability far beyond his years. To me he’s the top offensive shortstop prospect in the minors hands down. This James Shields trade will be the Padres Herschel Walker.
We’ve all forgotten about Gleyber haven’t we? The man was on a rocket ship to the Bronx before a freak injury sliding into home plate ended his season. With TJ on his non-throwing elbow it’s fair to question just how much this impacts Torres future offensive ability, particularly in the short term. I believe in the all around offensive skillset, and still think Torres has the upside of a superstar, even if he doesn’t have a standout category.
It’s been an up and down year for Rodgers, literally. He was gangbusters at high A Lancaster of the Cal League from late April until late June. Taking full advantage of one of the friendlier hitting environments in baseball. Upon promotion to AA Hartford, Rodgers took some time to settle in before finding his stroke, to only tank again before hitting the DL. He’s back in Lancaster now for the remainder of the season, but it’s not the actual bat that’s the problem with Rodgers, it’s what he chooses to swing at. When Rodgers makes contact, he makes good contact, but his 4.9% walk rates really hurts his value to me, especially when he doesn’t bring much speed to the table. That’s not to say Rodgers isn’t a potential fantasy star, but I think we need to temper expectations some.
The older of the Blue Jays legacy duo with super talented teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Last night the Dunedin Blue Jays clinched a share of the Florida State League title after the playoffs were canceled due to hurricane Irma. Natural disasters aside, Bichette’s prospect status has blossomed as much as anybody in 2017. From a 2016 second rounder to universal top 50 prospect, Bichette in my opinion is squarely in the conversation for top shortstop for the next few seasons. His swing has some mechanical issues (serious bat wrap), but his bat speed is insane. It’s likely Bichette is moved to 2nd base full time, but that is yet to come to fruition.
5. Royce Lewis, SS Twins | Level: A | 2017 Stats: .279/.381/.407 4 HR, 27 RBI, 18 SB
The first overall pick in June’s draft has been impressive in his first run through professional baseball. Hitting the ground running, literally, in the Gulf Coast League before seeing promotion to Cedar Rapids the Twins Low A full season affiliate. There’s still a lot of development to go, but what we got was a far more advanced player than we expected. The speed, contact, and approach are already present, the plus power needs time to develop.
6. Kevin Maitan, SS Braves | Level: A | 2017 Stats: .241/.290/.340 2 HR, 18 RBI, 2 SB
Before we get to caught up in the numbers, remember Maitan turned 17 in February. This kid is the same age a high school junior, and he’s playing in advanced rookie ball. That’s impressive on its own. Just making it to Danville is an accomplishment for the highly regarded Venezuelan prospect. Elite power, and franchise cornerstone is what we’re hoping on here.
With a full year of solid but unspectacular production at AAA Durham. I can see how you could go either way with Adames. Some will feel he’s underrated all things considered, while others will feel he’s overrated all things considered. I’m more the former than the latter. It’s obvious when watching Adames that he’s a professional hitter with no glaring weakness. Much like Gleyber he lacks a true category of impact, but to expect similar production to frequently overdrafted Xander Bogaerts isn’t crazy. I think Adames will have his season’s of good but never elite production. Should be up in Tampa if not in the next few weeks, then early in 2018.
After struggling for close to a year at the AAA level, Crawford returned from the DL on June 20th to slash .280/.381/.522 with 13 homers and a 13.8% Bb rate. The mainstream lists have always boosted his value to heights it never should have reached with fantasy. The player Crawford is, as opposed to the one we want him to be, has shown itself. He’s an on base machine with above average power, making the funture Phillies star a potential stud in OPS formats. Points leagues will see value from Crawford from the jump, he hits homers, should leadoff, takes tons of walks, and rarely strikes out.
The Orioles top middle infield prospect and 2015 first rounder in many ways is representative of the Orioles recent prospect profile. He’s a talented contact hitter, with little approach, and plus power. Between he and Austin Hays they have two players whose skills should play in 5×5 roto formats, but will take a hit in points, OBP, and OPS leagues. Unlikely to stick at short long term, many feel his future lies in a corner outfield spot, but in 2017 he’s split time between short and third.
The elite speed option on the list, Mateo was the major get, sort of, in the Sonny Gray to the Yankees deal. He’s been solid for the Athletics AA affiliate Midland, starting all 30 games at short, while slashing .292/.333/.518. The former Yankee farmhand has 170 steals over the last two seasons, and in my opinion is the premier speed prospect in the minors. The power has started to come along this year, producing the best ISO of his career at .192. Mateo will never win a batting title or bat .300, but he has the ability to produce 40+ steals with 15 homer pop.
Next Two: In an effort to provide the next few off the list here’s the next two!
Unlike his brother Dee, Nick isn’t a speed demon or even a one category superstar. He might be the better all around player than Dee, certainly providing more pop in his bat, but that’s not saying a ton. If Willy Adames is the poor man’s version of Gleyber, then Gordon is the poor man’s version of Adames. He’s a strong all around player that should be fantasy relevant but never a superstar.
I go hot and cold with Barreto, and after more study of his game, I’m far less optimistic than I’ve been in the past. Here’s why, he has major contact issues, his speed is either under-utilized (A’s problem for Mateo too) or diminishing, his power is there, but only above average not a difference maker, and I’m not sure how long he is for short. His value decrees significantly as an outfielder. I know, I’m contradicting my opening. I worry we might be looking at a .240/17/10 guy, and that’s just not enough to be the difference maker we’ve been hoping for.