Some of these guys will have to move off the position, either because they’re blocked by a star-level regular or because they lack the hyper-elite twitch, reflexes, hands and arm required to make it as a big league shortstop, but for the most part, these guys will man their middle infields for the next decade or so. Some dynasty league veterans build minor league rosters populated almost exclusively by shortstops and outfielders. Solid plan, really. Shortstop might be the game’s deepest position at the moment, and it’s only getting deeper.
Format = Player | Team | Age on 4/1/22 | Highest Level Played | ETA
Bobby Witt Jr. has been a named guy since his high school days, and I think he’s already met or exceeded the hype he brought into his draft season. Historically speaking, few men have posted 33 HR 29 SB seasons across the top two MiLB levels during their age 20/21 campaigns. I don’t have a number on that. I’m not even sure how to begin such a search. Kyle Tucker went 24/20 during his age 21 season in AAA. The few players who could’ve matched this feat–Tatis and Acuna, specifically–were in the majors before they had a chance, and Witt belonged there last year, too. It’s fine to let him slash .285/.352/.581 with 17 HR and 15 SB across 62 AAA games, but it also feels unique to our current paradigm. Don’t pay a guy a dime if you’re not “contending” at the big league level. Nevermind this is a professional sport. Anywho, Dayton Moore has given the world hope that Witt will leave spring training with the big league club, and maybe he will, but it doesn’t really matter for our purposes, unless you’re jumping him up in the top 50 range on redraft leagues. Tough to pay that back for a rookie who loses about 15 games off the top.
I’ve been assuming a position change for CJ Abrams, but with all-world shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. battling through a shoulder injury and hoping to avoid surgery, Abrams is just a Last-Jedi away from taking the reins. I shouldn’t do the JJ Abrams Star Wars thing here, probably, because comparing anything to the Rise of Skywalker is cruel, and I actually like CJ Abrams a lot for our game. He might be right there with Witt and Julio for top spot across the minors if he’d stayed healthy this year. A 6’2” 185 lb lefty bat, Abrams’ best features are a double-plus hit tool and 80-grade speed. He’s flashed extra base power but his swing isn’t geared for big home run totals at the highest levels. He’ll still pop his fair share, but you won’t really care if he lives in the 15-range. His batting average and stolen bases alone will put him in early-round conversations at his roto peak.
A 6’7” 210 lb meta-human, Cruz is the kind of piece you build around in dynasty leagues. Can make a case to rank him first or second here. Even when he miss-hits a ball, or loses his mechanics mid-swing, the ball just rockets off his bat. Gray provided a good look at this in his Oneil Cruz, 2022 Fantasy Outlook.
Volpe hit 15 HR in just 55 games at High-A and went on to compile 27 HR and 33 SB across 109 games at two levels, slashing .294/.423/.604 with 101 strikeouts and 78 walks. He was young for both levels (-1.3 and -2.9 years) but excelled on both sides of the ball and earned the hype he’ll get this winter thanks to a swing revision that includes a well-balanced leg kick and power to all fields.
Marte slugged .462 in Low A at 19, which is good, but a .271/.368/.462 stateside debut doesn’t often launch a guy into the prospect stratosphere the way it has here. He hit 17 home runs and stole 23 bases in just 99 games, so it was a loud season by a great prospect, but the 119 wRC+ provides a little context. 19 percent better than league average at 19 is an amazing achievement, especially if it comes with speed, but the hit tool isn’t as advanced as the typical prospect who sprints to the front of the dynasty draft line.
A 6’2” 178 lb right handed hitter, Luciano pulls the ball with a ferocity seldom seen among teenage bats. He also swings and misses a lot and gets himself into pull-focused rhythms that experienced pitchers exploited in High-A, where Luciano struck out at a 37.2 percent clip and hit just one home run in 36 games. He’s not a sell for me, strictly speaking, but he’s not a buy either. The big-power upside is fully factored into his market value.
Could be the king of third base in Toronto by 2023. A 6’1” 188 lb prototype ballplayer, Martinez struggled a little in his first 27 games at High-A but popped nine home runs anyway and posted a 99 wRC+. His season-long line of 28 HR and 4 SB in 99 games with a .261/.345/.549 provides a pretty good look at what Martinez could be at peak, except that he did this as a 19-year-old who was much younger than his primary competitors, and the Blue Jays are great at developing hitters, so his rocking 2021 could also just be a hint of what’s to come from Orelvis.
8. Vaughn Grissom | Atlanta | | 21 | A+ | 2023
Here’s what I wrote about Grissom the other day in Prospect News: Palace Intrigue in Cincinnati:
“Atlanta SS Vaughn Grissom is leveling up in more than one sense. He was promoted to High-A a couple weeks ago, and the 20-year-old has been unstoppable there, slashing .378/.519/.595 across 12 games, walking (21.2%) more than twice as often as he’s striking out (9.6%). He carried strong rates in 75 games at A ball as well: 10.4 BB%, 14.9 K%. Grissom is 6’3” with sneaky speed and present power who could grow into a top 50 prospect very soon.”
That’s me quoting me being very excited about Vaughn Grissom, who was still available in my 15-team dynasty at the time. We’ve hooked up since. Feels like a ready-to-launch moment for Grissom, who slashed .311/.402/.446 across 75 games at A ball prior to his High-A heater, which was a continuation of a long steamy stretch that started in Low A.
My number one player in the 2021 draft class, Watson slid all the way to 16 after floating a bonus demand around six million dollars. How can you not be romantic about baseball?
The carrying tools here are all of them. He’s not a big dude at 5’9” 178 lbs, but Watson gets every ounce of that build into his swing and doesn’t sacrifice contact skills to do so. In nine games at the complex, Watson slashed .394/.524/.606 with 4 SB. Can’t start a career much better than that. Nice to see Watson employing his double-plus speed to great effect.
Barrero can probably play anywhere on the field, and while he might not be a gold-glove-level defender in center the way he could be on the dirt, his physical gifts will help him improve quickly as he goes along. Cincinnati doesn’t have anyone locked into center (Senzel, Shogo, TJ Friedl) at the moment, so Barrero has a good shot to open 2022 as the captain of that outfield. He came into his own on offense in 2021–his fourth season in the states after signing out of Cuba, slashing .303/.380/.539 with 19 HR and 16 SB across 85 games in the minors (40 at AA and 45 at AAA).
Rocchio lit it up like Arcade Fire this year, especially in AA, where the 5’10” 170 lb switch hitter slashed .293/.360/.505 with 7 HR and 6 SB in 44 games. He’s been scrawny for much of his career so far but was always an explosive rotator and is adding in-game power as he tacks on his man strength.
His name makes me think of silent films. Also his potential is a wonderland. In 26 complex league games, the 6’3” 188 lb lefty-hitting shortstop slashed .275/.377/.440 with 3 HR and 7 SB. He’d been the near-consensus top player heading into the 2021 draft but fell to fourth, or priced himself to the fourth spot, as the lingo goes, and we invent ways to talk about how cool it is to pass on the best players during the draft. Scouts like him better at third base than shortstop, but scouts said the same thing about low-minors Carlos Correa, and he was the best defender at the position in 2021 according to many metrics. We’re often wrong when applying typical-path logic to elite athletes.
The 11th pick in this summer’s draft, Brady House looks like a big win for Washington so far. At 6’4” 215 lbs, he’s smooth enough to stay at shortstop for the immediate future, but third base could be his long term destination, which would be a win for us in fantasy. In 16 games on the complex, House hammered four home runs and slashed .322/.394/.576, vaulting himself firmly into the top 5 for First-Year-Player Drafts this winter.
The sixth overall pick in this year’s draft, Lawlar might’ve gone first if baseball made any sense. He’s a 6’2” 190 lb righty that nobody has any real questions about, by which I mean everyone who’s ever seen him believes he’ll hit all the way up. He’s also got the physical gifts to help us in all five categories at peak. His season ended, like Carroll’s, with a shoulder injury. Might be a buying opportunity for the patient in this year’s First-Year-Player Draft. This group has received some negative buzz, so I suspect you could move up in the draft with relative ease if Lawlar starts sliding.
Stott’s tots believe Bryson will make their dreams come true, and maybe he can. His 2021 season jumped off the page, culminating in a .303/.439/.394 across ten games at AAA, his third level of the season. This ascent pushed his dynasty value up into the Sell range for me, but that’s only if someone is really backing up the truck for him. If not, there’s no harm in waiting to see how Spring Training plays out. Might be another nice little value bump in the 6’3” shortstop’s future.
Timing is everything in life, and Peraza was ready to go when the bell sounded on the 2021 season, belting five home runs and swiping nine bases over his first 11 games in High-A, jump-starting a season that saw him play at three levels and set him up for a big-league opportunity in the late stages of 2022. A right handed hitter listed at 6’0” 165 lbs, Peraza gets thunder from the quality of his contact more than raw strength and could continue his power progression as he ages.
17. Jeremy Peña | Astros | 24 | AAA | 2022
If the season started tomorrow, Peña would likely be Houston’s shortstop. He hit 10 home runs and stole 5 bases in just 30 AAA games this year and recently became the gold glove shortstop in LIDOM, his second straight year winning that award. He’s a power-speed bat with big-league bloodlines and double-plus defense looking at an everyday gig to open 2022.
From July 29 through season’s end, Peguero slashed .305/.363/.523 with 8 HR and 13 SB. People have asked me why I’m so high on Peguero whenever I publish a ranking, and well, that’s why. Stolen bases are misunderstood in fantasy, especially in dynasty, in my opinion. Sure, they exist in patches all over the game, but to win tight leagues, you need your steals from steady sources in terms of playing time and across-the-board production.
Still in step with the age-to-level curve after two missed seasons, Lewis could improve his dynasty stock more than anyone in 2022. I’m not betting on it, but I think it’s worth noting that few players offer comparable topside if viewed through the lens of present v. possible value. Victor Robles comes to mind. Trouble is these guys tend to cost quite a bit more than the average pure-upside-despite-results play. Or maybe it’s that these types of plays are kind of unique. There’s always one or two in the player pool. I’m curious about the year-over-year hit rate of the five-star prospect at his nadir. Would people even consider Buxton a hit at this point? I’d think so, but beauty is in the eye, or maybe the IL in this case, and in Buxton’s. Another problem I’m having here is that I don’t like Lewis in the batter’s box anywhere near as much as I liked/like Buxton. He’s all over the place. By which I just mean to say (again) that Buxton and Robles aren’t player comps for Lewis but situation comps.
I like to decide at some point in these blurbs whether I’d be buying or selling or whatever in dynasty leagues. The question is always nuanced. I’m not likely to trade for Lewis if I’m contending. I’ve got other issues to manage. Real on-field numbers matter more than anything. But if I’m taking over an abandoned team or starting a new dynasty, that makes Lewis more interesting. I’m most likely to acquire Lews in the second scenario, if the team who has him in whatever league I’m joining is open to offers. In a start-up draft, I’ll bet someone else snags the name before I’m through the major league player pool or more intriguing minor league players if the drafts are separate.
Diaz took a minute to get settled in, so I’m not sure we caught a glimpse of what he can be, but he did hit .295 over his final seven games, so at least we saw some uptick for the top international bat from from the 2021 amateur class who slashed .235/.309/.353 across 24 games. If that tiny stretch created any kind of buying opportunity in your dynasty league, I’d spin the wheel. Diaz stole eight bases even while struggling against older players. Might be the last time we see him over-matched.
Hernandez swiped 21 bags in just 47 games, and while that’s no big deal in the DSL, it matters a bit to me because this kid is 6’2” and 175 lbs and just growing into his power. I didn’t think of him as a stolen base threat long term because I figured he’d slow down, and maybe he will, but I was encouraged to see that he sees himself as a runner. In the majors, that’s kind of all it takes to steal some bags: just paying attention and learning that aspect of the game across time. In the box, Hernandez generates easy loft from a natural uppercut and makes that swing work for him by being selective. He posted a 39/30 K/BB rate along with a .398 OBP in his first stretch as a Cub. I think he could be had for an aggressive trade offer this off-season, but that window could slam shut early in 2022 when Hernandez debuts stateside.
After a pornographic 11 games on the complex, the hyper-athletic De La Cruz went to full-season ball and held his own, slashing .269/.309/477 with 5 HR and 8 SB across 50 games. He was much younger (2.3 years) and less experienced than the average man in A ball, but his opposite field power still stood out among his compatriots, and it’ll be that and the speed that sets him apart. He’s listed at 6’2” 150 lbs, but the switch hitter looks much bigger than that today. In short, the dynasty arc is angled way up on Elly De La Cruz, who’d be a household name today if he hadn’t lost 2020 to the rona shutdown.
An explosive rotator with great hands, Rodriguez reminds me of Javier Baez. I was stunned to see he’s MLB pipeline’s ninth ranked White Sox prospect on the heels of a season that saw him play three levels after graduating Low-A then demolishing High-A, where he slashed .361/.381/.538 with 5 HR and 10 SB in 29 games. Yowza. He’s also played some great defense and looks like a long-term shortstop to me as long as he doesn’t add too much weight to his 5’11” 175 lb frame. His free-swinging tendencies might keep the hype train hush-hush for a while, so there’s still some buy-low potential here.
The 6’2” 175 lb shortstop’s 2021 season went well enough, but he didn’t play everyday at High-A even though he slashed .291/.389/.527 with 13 HR and 27 SB in just 56 games there. He did strike out in 29.2 percent of his plate appearances at the level, which is less than ideal for a college guy who’s 23 in any A league. This tendency torpedoed his 16 games in AA at season’s end. He struck out at a 35 percent clip and slashed just .185/.267/.296. By no means am I out on Greg Jones. Baseball is hard. The mental/meta/reality aspects of it can be tough at times. 16 games means almost nothing in any sample size, but especially at a new level. These guys have to move, set up house and home, maybe, whatever that means for a move you know is only going to be three weeks because the season is ending. Speed like this doesn’t come with patience and power very often.
25. Luisangel Acuña | Rangers | SS | A | 2024
Ronald’s little brother played well in his first full-season assignment, slashing .266/.345/.404 with 12 HR and 44 SB in 111 games. He doesn’t have his big brother’s thunder, but his hand-eye coordination offers paths to power that aren’t strength based, and it’s not like the 5’10” 181 lb righty is a weakling. On the plus side, he’s a very tough out, fouling off good pitches to find more hittable ones. He played just about every day, batting mostly third for the Down East Wood Ducks and filling the role admirably. He does look a little like Ronald in the batter’s box, especially at the point of contact and beyond, and he does have the easy-looking opposite-field punch that helps make the elder elite.
Henderson took aim at a big season early in 2021, blasting eight home runs in his first 35 games at Delmarva (A) and forcing an early promotion. In 65 games with High-A Aberdeen, Henderson rifled nine home runs and stole 11 bases, slashing .230/.343/.432 with a 30.1 percent strikeout rate. Not ideal, but he was 2.9 years younger than the average player at that level, according to Baseball Reference. He was good enough late in the season that he spent the final five games and the playoffs with AA Bowie. All in all, an impressive year by any measure, regardless of the low average and high strikeout rate in High-A, which leveled out a bit as the season wore on.
27. Reggie Preciado | Cubs | 18 | CPX | 2025
Preciado does everything right and has been a key player on international teams since he was a kid. Well, a younger kid than he is now. He led Panama to tournament heights they hadn’t seen and signed for $1.3 million. He’s 6’4” now and a switch hitter who’s silky smooth from the left side. Kind of a Freddie Freeman look, and I wouldn’t be shocked if his 99th percentile outcome is pretty close to that. Nor would I be surprised to see him get close to that. He might not be a shortstop long term, but nobody’s going to care if he keeps hitting like he did in 35 games on the complex: .333/.383/.511 with 3 HR and 7 SB.
Sounds like a forgotten Sopranos guy. Carries a big stick. Has grown from spindly to strong over the past couple years and now has some stats to support the high-profile pedigree, having hit 20 HR across two levels in his age 20 season. His .290 OBP in 100 High-A games is fairly scary, but a big statistical breakout could be just around the corner, and even if he merely holds his own at 21 in AA, he’ll be far enough ahead of the age-to-level math that he’ll still be graded on a curve.
The Bombers’ big haul on this year’s international market, Arias is a 6’2” 178 lb switch hitting shortstop who looks smooth in all aspects of the game. If proximity is not a big issue for you, it’s safe to bump him up a few spots as I think he’ll hold his value well over the next few seasons. I feel like his price is a little suppressed by the Jasson Dominguez experience, which is interesting because they’re very different players (Arias is more baseball player than toolshed) and Dominguez wasn’t so awful as a teen that the next guy should have to wear it.
Arias is a smooth defender who has taken his excellent hand-eye coordination to the batter’s box over the past few years. In a full season (115 games) at AAA in his age 21 season, Arias slashed .284/.348/.454 with 13 HR and 5 SB. Not a superstar season but damn impressive for a guy who skipped AA. I keep thinking about Cristian Pache as I type this, except that Arias never had the hype or speed of Pache but is similarly excellent in the field, which should secure his playing time as he continues to grow as a hitter.
The 6’1” 170 lb Artaega hit the ground thumping in the Arizona Complex League, slashing .290/.362/.495 with 9 HR in 57 games, which doesn’t exactly tell the full story. Arteaga captured the imaginations of dynasty players everywhere by smashing seven home runs in first 20 professional games, a noteworthy feat in its own right but especially given that plus speed and defense appeared to be Arteaga’s carrying tools before he stepped in the box. He’s a buy for me even if you get a little squeezed, by which I mean he tailed off in his second professional month, and I suspect that moved him into a sell bucket for some of the people who scooped him up on the cheap at the first signs of lightning.
32. Matt McClain | Reds | 22 | A+ | 2023
The 17th overall pick in this year’s draft, McClain profiles as a classic contact and defense middle infielder at 5’11 180 lbs. His career is off to a nice start after the club sent him to High-A right away, where McClain slashed .273/.387/.424 across 29 games with 3 HR and 10 SB. That’s an aggressive clip. While he’ll likely fall short of 50-steal speed, this is a savvy baserunner with the plate skills to maximize his talents.
2021 was the Lion’s first chance at making the kind of gains available within the long grind of a stateside season, and I can’t tell if he’s a buy or sell. Probably just depends on context, but I doubt his teams are eager to sell given the momentum he seemed to be building in the middle of last season. For what it’s Wuertz, his ETA says 2023 here, but he’ll probably be up by September. I just don’t think he’ll play much until next year.
Castro is just 6’ 205 lbs but brought big power with him to the majors when the club called him up from AA, but power was all he showed. Nonetheless, five home runs in 93 plate appearances is pretty good for a rookie who hadn’t played AAA. When he was sent to AAA after an up and down stretch, Castro played well, slashing .286/.342/.657 with three home runs in eight games, leaving his status up in the air for Opening Day. He’s probably going back to AAA, but he could quickly prove better than the competition and force his next chance. I like his work from the left side better than the right, at the moment, which is how you’d like a switch hitter to look in general, but especially as a young player.
Acosta signed for $1.8 million during the most recent amateur international acquisition window, so he’s probably a few months away from being dealt for a pitcher. I kid, I kid! This 5’11” 170 lb switch hitter might already be too good to trade in that typical AJ way. He’s played just 56 professional games, all of them in the DSL, but his 15.8%/18.8% BB/K rate suggests he’s ready for the next step, as does his .285/.431/.484 slash line. He hit five home runs and stole 26 bases, but steals don’t matter much in the DSL. The plate skills and power, however, are unique for a switch hitting 17-year-old middle infielder.
The 22nd overall pick in the 2021 draft, Montgomery comes in the Corey Seager mold of might-be middle infielders, checking in at 6’4” 205 lbs with a smooth lefty swing geared for impact to all fields. In 26 games in the Arizona Complex League, Montgomery posted a .396 OBP but just a .362 slugging percentage. He could get a little caught in between maintaining a late-on-the-plate, all-fields approach and learning to open up early and demolish pitches in his hot zone. It’s a good thing that he has the chance to do both.
Part of the return for RHP Clay Holmes, Castillo got traded more because the Yankees didn’t know what to do with him than anything he could control. While he may not tickle Cashman’s fancy, he’s an intriguing piece for our purposes: a 5’11” 185 lb middle infielder with just enough talent across the board to break even in every roto category. In 104 games across two levels last year, Castillo hit 19 bombs, swiped nine bags and slashed .278/.355/.487.
Drafted as a two-way player out of high school in 2020, Winn spent most of the season at shortstop before twirling a single frame in September. This didn’t stop people who’ve never seen him pitch from clamoring first a position switch on my Twitter timeline, huzzah, basing said claims on, I guess, his relative struggles to adapt to professional pitching. He got better with time in A ball but never found his footing in High-A, slashing .209/.240/.304 with 2 HR and 16 SB in 36 games. I still think he’s a hitter. Professional pitchers are good, and Winn will add strength to his plus-contact, plus-speed profile.
Paris features plus defense in a young-for-level bat with good speed and big upside. These types can be slow burns as they grow into their strength and add power, but anticipation can make life worth living. At least that’s what Kyren told me a while back as he awaited the new season of Emily in Paris.
The 32nd overall pick of 2020’s shortened draft, Loftin was seen by some as a floor play because he’s a good contact hitter with the skills to remain up the middle on defense. His type often pops for deep leagues because he does the hardest part well: making consistent contact. The 6’1” 190 lb right handed hitter slashed .289/.373/.463 with 10 HR and 11 SB in 90 games at High-A, posting an impressive 10.2%/14.6% BB/K rate and setting himself up for a multi-level season in 2022. I won’t be surprised if he’s a big-league option by September.
The 6’2” 191 pound Salas didn’t overwhelm with power in his debut season, but that plus raw pop could be his carrying too long term. He dominated for about a month on the complex (.370/.458/.511) before slowing down at Low-A (.250/.333/.315). I really like this player’s actions, but I worry about the switch-hitting and Miami’s recent track record with hitters.
A 6’4” 200 lb left handed hitter, Sweeney isn’t the most natural looking shortstop, but he gets the job done, and he’s got a shot to stay at the position. Even if not, he can likely hang at third, and his bat would play there. In 29 games with Low A Tampa, Sweeney slashed .245/.357/.518 with 6 HR, 3 SB, 29 strikeouts and 18 walks. He played his college ball with Eastern Illinois of the Ohio Valley Conference, so we’ve yet to see him exposed to elite pitching across an extended stretch of games.
A right-handed shortstop with the actions to play there long term, Cabrera has strong hitting mechanics and present plate skills to go along with a set of above average tools across the board in a 5’11” 178 lb frame.
I’m keeping tabs on all the big money international guys from the 2021 class. The tax code stipulates they have to stay in the Dominican Republic for a calendar year if they want to protect their signing bonus, which creates an odd bubble of having arrived as a professional while waiting for your career to really begin. In this sort of incubator, weird things can happen, like Wilman Diaz playing only a month or Carlos Colmanarez slashing .247/.319/.289. That’s a lot of singles: 21 to be exact, along with two doubles and a triple across 26 games. Well hello, Buy Window, quite nice of you to pop open. Colmenarez was considered by some to be the most pro-ready bat in his class and signed for $3 million. He doesn’t generate much loft at the moment (clearly) but makes a lot of contact from a quick, level swing that should serve him well in the long run. He was my least favorite of the big name, high-price teenagers last winter, but I still like him enough to kick the tires at what could be the lowest his prospect stock goes.
Get ready for some Mallrats jokes! Pretty sure I got one in there somewhere last season, and I apologize for any future bits that don’t land. Gotta focus. Focus! Smith was doing just that in 2021, zeroing in on swing decisions that left him with an enticing 23.7 percent strikeout rate after punching out 32.3 at a percent clip in 2019 at AA. He also walked about twice as much: from 6.2% to 11.2% and slashed .285/.370/.561 with 21 HR and 18 SB in just 94 games. That’s a loud season for a former first-round pick taking his first licks at AAA. Felt like his success went mostly under the radar, and his MLB performance in 36 plate appearances (.094/.194/.188) certainly didn’t win any advocates, so it’s under the radar he’ll stay. I’m not saying he should top anyone’s wishlist, but I do think he’ll get a legit shot to stick this season and could be a boon even in redraft leagues.
Feels like you’re swinging for a double if rostering Westburg in a dynasty league, but doubles are just fine in a lot of deeper formats, and any decent hitter in Baltimore gets a home-park boost because doubles because homers in the steamy summers at Camden Yards. And I shouldn’t say that about Westburg, anyway. Not fair to characterize him as a double, especially as he’s coming off a great season that saw him cover three minor league levels.
A = 20 games, 3 HR, 5 SB, .366/.484/.592, 188 wRC+
A+ = 62 games, 8 HR, 9 SB, .286/.389/.469, 118 wRC+
AA = 30 games, 4 HR, 3 SB, .232/.323/.429, 103 wRC+
Season = 112 games, 15 HR, 17 SB, .285/.389/.479
I included all this because it’s a quick look at a player finding his level, and a solid developmental design for a player. They identified quickly (wouldn’t take a genius) that Westburg had little to learn at low-A. When he hovered at the 20 percent better than league average mark in High-A for a little while, they moved him along. He wasn’t dominating, but he was definitely good enough to graduate the level. Just anecdotal observation at this point, but it seems much more common for organizations to leave a guy like this at High-A for the final month. I love that Balitmore sent him on to AA, where he looks pedestrian in the slash line but fairly impressive in the wRC+. That he could hold his own at the third level within a single season in the final lap of a long year speaks well of Westburg’s future.
Sanchez enjoyed his best season in the states after bulking up a bit during the lost season. He’s listed at 5’11” 176 lbs but looks stronger than that and got better throughout the season as he adapted to his newfound muscle and worked his way into rhythm.
Over his first 19 games in High-A, Sanchez slashed .194/.286/.210 with an 11.3%/18.3% BB/K ratio.
From May 28 onward (80 games, 39 in AA), he hit .332/.366/.463 with 9 HR, 5 SB and a 4.6%/11.1% BB/K ratio across two levels.
So he was better when he was aggressive–probably too aggressive for sustained success–but time will tell. His first, and perhaps only, opportunities in the big leagues will come in fits and starts as a utility piece, so the free-swinging nature of his approach might mean he’ll have to start hot and stay hot because his cold spells will be empty.
He’s listed 5’8” 166 lbs, so his power upside is limited, but he did slug .471 with 6 HR in 50 AA games, so it’s not like he’s a total stranger to the bleacher seats. Still, the fantasy bet here is on Allen’s defense earning him a spot while his bat does just enough to let his speed play in games. He face-planted in 39 games at AAA (.243/.302/.301), but if he can even hold his own at that level, he could be Oakland’s starting shortstop at some point late in 2022.
The Blue Jays have a type, especially on the international front. Otto Lopez, Manuel Beltre and Leo Jimenez are all pretty good examples as handsy middle infielders who need to add strength and torque. Jimenez is a fairly extreme version. The 5’11” 160 lb right handed hitter posted an obscene .517 on base percentage in 54 games in Low-A but slugged just .381 despite hitting .315. He walked in a whopping 21.5 percent of his plate appearances, striking out at a 14.5 percent clip and stealing just four bases in five attempts. He hit one home run and eight doubles with zero triples. So what the hell is he doing here? Good question, that. Maybe I should’ve reserved this spot for RHP Joey Murray, but he missed most of the season with an elbow sprain and threw just 0.2 innings in August after rehabbing, so we don’t know what we have there, and the other guy I considered here, Estiven Machado, has played exactly one as professional, taking one plate appearance in the complex league.
Back to Leo Jimenez of the absurd .517 OBP, he reportedly added strength heading into the season but still employs a powerless swing. He’s clearly got room to risk more rotational force. His success or failure will come down to how well he enfolds the club’s teaching and starts to really let loose on pitches he can damage. It’s not an easy thing to learn. In fact I think it’s more innate than it is teachable, or at least I’d think that if clubs like Cleveland, Los Angeles, Houston and Toronto hadn’t shown such a knack for helping guys unleash their inner swinger. If he posts another thumpless campaign in 2022, he’ll probably drop off my list, but for now I’ll put him here because he’s the kind of guy you pick up the instant you see him collecting extra base hits in bunches.
Cool name, intriguing profile. Guzman is a 6’1” 180 lb righty who signed for $2 million during the most recent international signing period. He features solid contact skills and an advanced approach for his age. In 44 games in the DSL, his BB/K rate was 12.2%/14.6%. His slash line wasn’t good (.213/.311/.362), but the plate skills matter more at this age. His next two years will tell us a whole lot more than those first couple months in the DSL.
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