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Top 10 Shortstop Prospects - 2019 Fantasy Baseball Redraft Rankings

We're back with another list of 2019 impact prospects. Today the focus is on shortstop. The crop of talent this year starts off very strong, and then does a few hops and jumps bouncing around the skill and potential spectrum. Few positions are completely stocked with premium talent in the top-10, but compared to others, shortstop is one of the better ones.

Regardless of the depth of the position, it is important to know who will be called up and who can perform once they get the call. A majority of shortstop prospects are finding themselves in two camps: those with all-around talent, and those that can do one thing but have plenty of flaws in other facets of their game. Prospects who excel in all areas are few and far between. Fortunately, there are a few of these players on this list.

Read below to see the best options of the bunch. Find out who to speculate on and who should be avoided. If you are playing in deep draft-and-hold leagues, there might be a few more options for you, but it gets real shaky in that area.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including Best MLB Series, NFL Series, NBA Writer, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!

 

Top Shortstop Prospects for 2019

This list below is geared towards 2019 redraft leagues and looks at the top MLB prospects and rookies who have the best chance to rise to the major leagues at some point in 2019 and provide fantasy baseball value this season.

To be clear, this is not our list of the top overall prospects in baseball. You can find those longer-term rankings in our dynasty prospects rankings and articles section, which take a look at the top prospects at each position regardless of their age or expected ETA in the majors.

 

1. Luis Urias, San Diego Padres

ETA: Already debuted

Surprise. It is not the Padres infielder you expected, but it is the infielder you should expect. From everything we have seen in spring training, Luis Urias will have the starting shortstop gig starting the season. In the minors, Urias demonstrated a little power and speed while maintaining an excellent batting average (.306.) and on-base percentage (.397). At 21, he was a year younger than his peers at Triple-A in 2018. Despite that, he still generated eight homers, 83 runs, and a .296 average. Also, his current swing generates low line drives which he turned into 30 doubles and seven triples in 2018. It also must be pointed out that his strikeout rate did rise to 21%, but that is the highest it has been in his four-year minor-league career by at least nine percentage points.

Urias has started near the top of the lineup this spring; however, there is a very real possibility that he hits in the bottom third of the Padres order to start the 2019 season. The addition of Manny Machado to the lineup will help it turn over quicker, giving Urias more opportunities to generate stats. He currently has an ADP of 360 which is pretty good value for a solid player that provides average-or-better statistics in all categories.

“Juiced” or not, a majority of balls do fly better in the majors; therefore, we might be looking at least at a 10-homer, 10-steal guy with a .280 batting average who racks up quite a few runs. That is worth grabbing late in drafts, particularly in OBP leagues. If you are someone who would rather draft and hold onto the next ranked prospect for the first few months, go ahead. Urias will have a generous head start and likely take over the second base position to continue to accumulate stats.

 

2. Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres

ETA: Mid-2019

Fernando Tatis Jr. is the crown jewel of shortstop prospects. There is probably one other prospect on the list (below) that would have something to say about that. Tatis is just 20 years old and he is barging through the front door of the majors. He has every right to with the skills he’s displayed thus far.

The power/speed combo is legit. Tatis went 16/16 at Double-A in 2018. To round out his repertoire, he served that up with a quality batting average (.286). At his current development level, he has some legit negatives to his plate skills with an average strikeout rate of 26 percent in his minor league career. He is very aggressive with a 19 percent swinging strike rate during that same time. Major league pitching will exploit that aggressiveness but Tatis will still find a way to bring power and speed to the Padres. Over time, he’ll figure it out and the strikeout rate should drop a little as well. Be aware that the batting average will drop as well until he gets fully ensconced in the big leagues.

He currently has an ADP of 286 so if you want a share of the promise land, you’ll have to fork over some serious key money to rent his services. If he gets brought up in May or sooner, he will definitely have a shot of ending up as the top player on this list. Just make sure you have enough bench space to wait for his arrival.

 

3. Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays

ETA: Mid-2019

The future of Bo Bichette often times gets tied directly to fellow Blue Jay Vladimir Guerrero Jr. This isn’t necessary as Bichette is successful on his own. Actually, this writer is confident that he will put up more fantasy successful seasons than Vlad Jr. If you’re looking for evidence, let’s look at Bichette’s robustly offensive 2018 season. In Double-A, he finished with 11 homers, 95 runs, 74 RBI, and a .286 batting average. If that wasn’t impressive enough, he also hit 43 doubles, seven triples, and stole 32 bases in 43 attempts. Thus far he has demonstrated sound plate discipline by limiting his strikeouts (17%) and taking a few free passes (8%). Bichette will never be a home run or batting champion, but he has the tools to give you all-around production, which is very valuable in fantasy.

The Blue Jays will not be in contention for any postseason appearances so there is no pressing need to promote Bichette. However, fan excitement for Vlad Jr. and Bichette will spark enthusiasm among fans and increase revenue. This will likely be the main stimulus for Bichette getting promoted at mid-season, given that his talent is already evident. The promotion will also let the Blue Jays see what they have in a few of their younger players.

 

4. Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies

ETA: Late 2019

Brendan Rodgers was a first-round pick in the 2015 draft and has been closely tracked by all prospect stalkers ever since. He has exemplified everything we want from a young fantasy prospect in his minor league career. He continued to satisfy at the start of 2018 in Double-A with 17 homers, 12 stolen bases, and a .275 batting average. It was a different story once he was finally promoted to Triple-A Albuquerque. In 72 plate appearances, Rodgers had a .232 average with a 1.4% walk rate and a 22% strikeout rate. Fear not of his Triple-A performance. He’ll have an opportunity to repeat the level and hopefully change the trend of decreasing homers (19 HR in 2016, 18 HR in 2017, 17 HR in 2018).

That trend doesn’t really matter; it’s just an interesting coincidence. The important thing is his ability to hit for power, which he has demonstrated. He’s also exhibited the determination to improve his swinging strike rate from 20% in 2016 and 2017 to 11.5% in 2018. With the aggressiveness to put his power on display, he hasn’t had a need, or maybe an interest either, in taking walks.

The Rockies have minor-league venues that are quite hitter-friendly. Therefore, decent prospects exhibiting offensive potential get advanced through every step of the minors rather quickly. That leads to a logjam at the big-league level, but you would think that a third-overall pick such as Rodgers would be immune to such congestion. All you have to do is bet on the skills. If the Rockies are in contention, traffic control might happen sooner to ensure Rodgers finds a way to get consistent playing time.

 

5. Kevin Newman, Pittsburgh Pirates

ETA: Already debuted

Newman fits the mold of many Pirates infielders — solid defense with a decent hit tool. There was no mention of power because there is no power to really mention. In four years, Newman has hit a total of 15 homers. It is not a part of his game so take that into consideration when owning him. Newman was also introduced to the big leagues in a brutal fashion in 97 plate appearances of 2018. It was an eye-opening experience for him that resulted in a .206 batting average (.275 BABIP).

Despite this, there are reasons for him to be owned in at least a reserve spot of your roster. He possesses great plate discipline; in his minor league career, Newman did not have a strikeout rate over 12.7%. It is not exciting by itself, but it does increase the likelihood of a very good batting average which is valuable to overcome average-draining hitters. The on-base opportunities for Newman are even more advantageous to fantasy owners.

In an environment that is lacking in speed, Newman’s primary fantasy attribute will be most beneficial. While he only ran moderately in his first three seasons, he held nothing back with 39 attempts at Triple-A in 2018. This mad dash resulted in 28 stolen bases. He is not being drafted in most leagues so you can monitor his battle for the shortstop spot and determine whether to add him for stolen bases and excellent batting average.

 

6. Mauricio Dubon, Milwaukee Brewers

ETA: Mid-2019

Dubon had a season derailed in 2018 and ultimately it might restrict his strengths in 2019. Dubon had an excellent start to the 2018 season with four homers, six steals, and a .343/.348/.574 slash line at Triple-A. He just needs to maintain his strikeout rate 17%, but also, it is essential for him to improve upon his aggressiveness at the plate. To maximize his speed, he’ll have to do better than a two percent walk rate. Unfortunately, before we were able to see the full capability of Dubon, he tore his ACL in May and missed the rest of the season.

Dubon should be able to challenge Orlando Arcia for playing time at some point this year. As we get longer into the season, he might find more confidence in his knee which will lead to more stolen base chances. Dubon will provide average and speed which are qualities that are hard to come by in fantasy these days. With Travis Shaw, and now Dubon on the cusp of success, the Brewers continue to see the better end of the Tyler Thornburg deal.

7. Jorge Mateo, Oakland Athletics

ETA: Late 2019

Mateo spent his 2018 season at Triple-A and finished the year at 24 years old. Unfortunately, it appears he will start 2019 at the same level continuing to work on his craft. Mateo regained some fan-love in 2017 with very good performances at two separate Double-A assignments (Yankees and Athletics). However, he was unable to maintain that confidence with a sub-par effort at Triple-A Nashville in 2018. Mateo is turning into a speedy free-swinger. That’s right, those two shouldn’t go together and when they do, it doesn’t turn out well for fantasy owners. In order to take advantage of his speed, Mateo needs to get on base. A slash line of .230/.280/.353 will not get it done. Also, when he does get on base, he needs to work on his efficiency. Mateo was caught 10 times in 35 attempts.

The Athletics currently have Marcus Semien and newly-acquired Jurickson Profar up the middle with Franklin Barreto waiting in the wings. The team will make a playoff run in 2019 and unless Mateo demonstrates an improvement, he won’t be a part of that endeavor but for a small part-time role. Mateo will start 2019 with the new Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas which should provide an opportunity for increased statistical production.

 

8. Carter Kieboom, Washington Nationals

ETA: Late 2019

Kieboom finally found his power stroke and put it all together in 2018. Across High- and Double-A, he had 16 homers with nine stolen bases and a .280 batting average. Even better is that he only struck out 20% of the time but walked at a 10% rate. Thus far, Kieboom has mostly been a pull-hitter. Once he fully maximizes his ability to get the bat through the zone tremendously quick, he’ll be able to start driving pitches to all fields with authority.

Kieboom is one of the primary players on this list that will not stay at the position upon promotion to the majors. The Nationals have a player currently at the position that is suitable for their needs (Trae Turner). Therefore, Kieboom is destined to move off the spot and in the direction of the keystone, in this writer’s opinion. He won’t have to wait too long; currently, the second base job is held by a similar caliber player in Brian Dozier. Actually, Kieboom's skills might be more of a fantasy-friendly attraction at second base.

 

9. Nick Gordon, Minnesota Twins

ETA: Late 2019

Nick Gordon is not his brother, not even close. He has also not developed into what would be expected of a fifth-overall pick in the 2014 draft. In that sense, he would be considered a bust. Gordon has yet to rise to any challenge but he can still rebound to be a serviceable player. He has become a player that takes time to integrate himself into his new environment. While the first stint at Double-A in 2017 wasn’t too bad, Gordon made improvements in 162 at-bats in 2018. During that time, he hit five homers and stole seven bases to go with a .333 batting average.

His appearance at Triple-A left a lot to be desired and will likely be where he starts 2019. In 410 plate appearances, he had a .222 batting average and hit a mere two homers to go with 13 stolen bases. With a 44% ground-ball rate, Gordon doesn’t have elite speed to turn that into a solid batting average. Without speed or power; he will need to improve upon and rely on his hit tool for him to be successful which should come with time. As such, his first test at the big leagues is bound to result in an average or worse outcome. The Twins currently have Jorge Polanco and Jonathan Schoop working up the middle. Therefore, Gordon will likely have to wait until September, unless dire circumstances occur.

 

10. Isaac Paredes, Detroit Tigers

ETA: Late 2019

Paredes is a player that is giving people fits; fortunately, fantasy owners don’t have the same level of stress. He can hit, without question. In High-A, at the age of 19, Paredes hit 12 homers with 19 doubles and two triples, albeit with a .259 batting average. He was rewarded for his performance with a promotion to Double-A and the hitting continued with nine doubles, three homers, and a .321 AVG in 155 plate appearances. His plate discipline is so sound he walked (19) nearly as much as he struck out (22). Paredes will not provide hardly any speed for fantasy owners but he will make up for it with plain 'ol raw stats.

The main concern regarding Paredes is where he will ultimately play. He is a growing young man and came into camp at 5’11, 225 pounds. It is tough to have smooth, agile defense at short at that size. Therefore, he will obviously and justifiably move off the position. Thankfully, the Tigers have plenty of needs to fill so his ultimate spot on the field shouldn’t be cause for concern. Where he ends up shouldn't bother fantasy owners; he just needs to play to take advantage of his tremendous skill.

More Fantasy Baseball Prospects Analysis




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