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Welcome back, RotoBallers. I'll be breaking down impact prospects by position. Today I'm bringing you my top 10 shortstops - MLB prospect rankings for the 2018 fantasy baseball season.

As expected, shortstop is far and away the deepest list of infield prospects. This tends to be the trend every season given that it is typically the most athletic infield prospects. These prospects are all found in top 100 prospect lists from notable websites like MLB Pipeline and Baseball America, and all will either have abundant playing time, are expected to be absolute mashers at the plate or both.

Many of the shortstop prospects listed will move off the position and play other roles in the big leagues, but all of these players at least have a shot to man the spot in 2018. Some are also going to be considered longshots to make the majors this season, but should at least appear on the list given the immense upside the player possesses. So without any further ado, here are the top 10 shortstops for 2018 redraft leagues.

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Top 10 Shortstops Prospects for 2018 Fantasy Baseball

1. Gleyber Torres (NYY, AAA)
Stats: (from AAA) 139 PA, .273/.367/.496, 5 HR, 5 SB, 12.2% BB%, 15.1% K%
ETA: Early May
This is Torres’ third appearance on a prospect list this preseason. Torres can play all three of second, third and shortstop and could see time at all three at the big-league level. Shortstop is the least likely of the three given the presence of Didi Gregorious, but it is still worth noting that should anything happen to Gregorious, Torres is the immediate solution. Torres has an incredibly balanced approach at the plate, combining patience with a propensity for consistently driving the ball with authority into the gaps. His power has not translated into as much over-the-fence pop as some have expected, but he is still only 21 years old and scouts think he just needs to add a little bit of loft to become an annual 20-homer hitter. He does not have enough speed to really be considered a threat on the bases, but he might add a steal here and there. Torres is considered one of the top prospects in baseball and would warrant owning in all leagues once he receives the promotion to the majors.

2. Franklin Barreto (OAK, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 510 PA, .290/.339/.456, 15 HR, 15 SB, 5.3% BB%, 27.6% K%
ETA: Early May
Barreto’s skillset lends itself to a lot of fantasy hype. Though undersized, he has shown plenty of power and speed, leading some to envision the 5-foot-10 middle-infielder as a future 20/20 hitter at the dish. Barreto also possesses a plus hit tool that stems more from his ability to drive the ball than it does from his ability to make contact. Barreto did not look super sharp last season with strikeout rates near 30 percent in the minors and above 40 percent in the majors. However, it is important to note he just turned 22 years old in February and is the youngest player on this list to have already had major-league at-bats. His fantasy upside is tantalizing, and the playing time will come once he starts to put everything together a little bit more. Some view him at second base longterm given his average instincts and the rise of Jorge Mateo, but his bat will profile very well at either position. It shouldn’t take him long to reach the majors on a rebuilding Oakland Athletics team despite both Marcus Semien and Jed Lowrie showing both having posted solid seasons in 2017. He would be worth adding in most leagues given his fantasy-friendly profile.

3. Nick Senzel (CIN, AA)
Stats: 235 PA, .340/.413/.560, 10 HR, 5 SB, 11.1% BB%, 18.3% K%
ETA: Early July
The fact Senzel is even mentioned as a shortstop now is just a testament to his incredible athleticism and the excitement the Cincinnati Reds have to get him to the majors. Though he is a natural third baseman, the presence of Eugenio Suarez in the big leagues has forced the Reds to consider moving Senzel to shortstop in an effort to get his bat into the big-league lineup. It is probably not his longterm home, but Jose Peraza is a much easier player to move past than Suarez. Senzel has done nothing but hit since he was drafted, flashing one of the best hit tools in the minors combined with plus power. Despite the fact many expected him to slow down as he matured, Senzel has maintained above-average speed and could be able to post something like 20/10 seasons given a full season of work. The reason he is as low on this list as he is comes from the presence of Suarez at third, Scooter Gennett at second, a crowded outfield and the chance Peraza does enough to keep Senzel at bay for a long enough time. Senzel will certainly debut this season and has the chance to be a special fantasy producer, and when he does, he will be worth owning in all leagues. It is just a matter of when he is promoted and what position he plays.

4. J.P. Crawford (PHI, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 556 PA, .243/.351/.405, 15 HR, 5 SB, 14.2% BB%, 17.4% K%
ETA: Opening Day
A prospect that is essentially guaranteed a starting role on Opening Day typically ranks much higher on a list like this. But Crawford does not have the most exciting fantasy profile. While his plate discipline and defense both are impressive tools, he has not been able to routinely post high batting averages or steal many bases despite above-average speed. He did start to hit for a bit more power in 2017, but the most important tool will have to be his hit tool if he hopes to stay in the majors and have much of a fantasy impact. He will also bat near the bottom of the order, which will not help his counting stats in the 2018 season. Crawford is ranked highly by evaluators, but owners should understand that while he comes with guaranteed playing time, he might not be the most exciting prospect to own. Still, the upside is there for a hitter with a .280-plus batting average and 15-plus home runs who could move up the order if he hits. But Crawford has not shown that upside yet and until he does, he remains a worthy own online in 14-plus-team leagues.

5. Nick Gordon (MIN, AA)
Stats: 578 PA, .270/.341/.408, 9 HR, 13 SB, 9.2% BB%, 23.2% K%
ETA: Early June
Gordon was originally going to be closer to the bottom of this list, but the suspension of Jorge Polanco for 80 games is a major game-changer for his value. At first it looked like he might have to wait until August or even September to receive a promotion, but now there is only Eduardo Escobar in his way and Gordon is probably better suited to be the everyday shortstop whereas Escobar is best utilized as a utility player. Gordon is not a particularly dynamic hitter, lacking both plus power or plus speed. But he is an above-average hitter with the ability to hit 10 home runs or a few more and will add a few stolen bases as well. He is also a slick defender, which doesn’t help fantasy owners beyond just making him a more complete player player ready to receive a promotion to the majors. His skillset does not make him a great own in shallow leagues, but could be valuable in 14-plus-team and other deep leagues.

6. Willy Adames (TB, AAA)
Stats: 578 PA, .277/.360/.415, 10 HR, 11 SB, 11.2% BB%, 22.8% K%
ETA: Early June
Adames is a tough player to figure out. The tools have always appeared to be pretty loud, but he has never produced too much in the power and speed departments. For the past two seasons, he has sat consistently in double-digits with both home runs and stolen bases while waling at a high rate and posting a .270-plus batting average. For Adames, that is probably about what to expect at least for a while. There is a chance he becomes a future 20/20 shortstop, but there is also a chance he always underwhelms. In redraft leagues, he has enough fantasy upside though for owners in 12-plus-team leagues to take a chance on him if he gets a shot at playing time. The Rays’ depth in the infield will make it tough for him to crack the roster for a while, but his youth and potential mean he could force his way onto the roster if he excels in 2018.

7. Christian Arroyo (TB, MLB)
Stats: 135 PA, .192/.244/.304, 3 HR, 1 SB, 5.9% BB%, 23.7% K%
ETA: Early May
Arroyo made an absolute mockery of Triple-A pitchers in 2017, slashing .396/.461/.604 with four home runs and a pair of stolen bases in 25 games before receiving a promotion to the big leagues. He struggled in his brief cup of coffee before being injured and missing the rest of the season. Entering 2018, he will not break camp with the big-league club, but now in Tampa, he has a better shot to receive playing time than he did with San Francisco. His profile is not the most exciting for fantasy purposes given his lack of speed and average power, but his hit tool is one of the best in the minors and hitting for a high average should not be an issue. Arroyo has also started to show more progress with power and might be able to be a solid home-run contributor. He looks a lot like a younger Matt Duffy, and that is probably his ceiling. But when Duffy is healthy, he is a solid fantasy contributor and Arroyo could be too. If he finds regular playing time, which could be a challenge, Arroyo could be a solid add in 12-plus-team leagues. For now though with several infielders blocking him in the majors, he is probably just a waiver guy until he finds a role.

8. Jorge Mateo (OAK, AA)
Stats: 287 PA, .296/.357/.521, 8 HR, 24 SB, 8.4% BB%, 22.6% K%
ETA: Early August
Mateo has the potential to be an absolutely explosive fantasy producer in the big leagues. His 80-grade speed will put him in contention for the league-lead in stolen bases every season and his power has started to come along to the point where he could add a few more home runs than most speedsters, possibly reaching as high as 15. Mateo has to answer some questions about his hit tool, however. His plate discipline leaves a lot to be desired and though his average was high in 2017, a BABIP of .364 and strikeout rate north of 20 percent hint at possible regression. At 22 years old, he is still very young and seems likely to spend most of the season in the minors developing that hit tool. The good news is that Billy Hamilton has remained a strong fantasy asset despite a lack of a hit tool or power, and while Mateo is not nearly as fast, he has more power and a better hit tool than Hamilton. He is a stronger bet to remain at shortstop than Barreto too and the pair could be the Athletics’ double-play combination in September and at the start of 2019 if they both show the necessary improvements this season and Lowrie and Semien are both moved.

9. Brendan Rodgers (COL, AA)
Stats: 164 PA, .260/.323/.413, 6 HR, 0 SB, 4.9% BB%, 22.0% K%
ETA: September
If there were a clear path to playing time for Rodgers, he would likely be the top guy on this list. He possesses a plus hit tool and above-average power, both of which will play extremely well in hitter-friendly Coors Field. Rodgers does not take too many walks, but he balances it out by making plenty of contact and rarely striking out. Still, his plate discipline will need to improve and he could certainly look better at Double-A than he did in 2017. He also is blocked at both second base and shortstop by D.J. LeMahieu and Trevor Story, respectively. An injury, however, could free him up for a call up to the majors, as might another down year from Story. Rodgers has an uphill battle for playing time in 2018 and it is likely 2019 is the season he should be on more redraft prospect lists. For now though, owners should keep tabs on the talented prospect and be ready to jump if it looks like he will get a promotion to the majors.

10. Fernando Tatis (SD, AA)
Stats: (from A+) 518 PA, .281/.390/.520, 21 HR, 29 SB, 14.5% BB%, 23.9% K%
ETA: September
Simply put, there is not better dynasty player on this list than Tatis. His skillset of plus-plus power and above-average speed with a plus hit tool makes him an incredible dynasty asset, and the fact he’ll be 19 for all of 2018 and has already reached Double-A only makes him more exciting. However, he appeared in just 14 games for Double-A San Antonio and probably needs more time spent there in order before he can even reach Triple-A. His rapid ascension through the minors means that it should not be put past him that he could force the Padres to promote him in 2018, but given service time concerns with his youth makes it unlikely he’ll see the big leagues this season. Still, his dynamic skillset means he at least needs to be on everyone’s fantasy radar.

 

More 2018 MLB Prospects Analysis





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