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Three Up, Three Down for Prospects - Shortstop

Shortstops are generally the most athletic players on the field. It is also a very important position, defensively, but we don’t really concern ourselves with that in fantasy, aside from ensuring a player will be able to stay on the field. As usual, there is a vast collection of athletic players to choose from, and the most beneficial aspect is that players usually have a rollercoaster of performances. It doesn’t strictly ascend or descend.

Finding value is one of the primary purposes of the minor league prospecting venture. The climbs and drops provide fantasy owners with favorable moments to move or acquire prospects. This is one of the best opportunities to make improvements to your dynasty roster. Generally, prospects will have their highest value right before they are set to debut in the majors. So, we will help you identify prospects that are trending up and down, so you know how best to maximize the values.

Below are three shortstop prospects that are trending with increased value as well as three prospects who have declined in various degrees. Then, there are courses of action to consider for each player. You can read other prospect risers/fallers here: first basemen and starting pitchers.

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Stock Rising

Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays

At only 17 years old, Wander Franco has shot up rankings so quickly that NASA would be impressed. Franco was already highly touted after the Rays signed him for nearly $4 million. His professional debut in 2018 reinforced some of the expectations. In 251 plate appearances, Franco hit 11 homers with a .351/.418/.587 slash line. Most impressively, he walked (9.9%) more than he struck out (7%). Extra-bases were also coming with ease as he hit seven triples and 10 doubles. Franco also has above-average speed, only displaying it enough to get four stolen bases in 2018.

Franco accomplished this in the Appalachian Rookie league, but again, at only 17 years of age. Historically, the Rays have taken their time with their prospect development so expect him to start 2019 at Low-A. However, Franco’s list of skills read off as a recipe for a perfect hitter: switch-hitter—check, bat speed—check, plate approach—check, speed—check, and some power—check. As such, Franco might be the one exception that forces their hand. Nothing in his first year has shown any reason why Franco can’t compete at higher levels. Expect 2019 to be even better.

Reasons to buy: He is a young dynamite bat with plenty more upside and is destined to be the top prospect one day.
Reasons to sell: You can market his top-10 prospect status and are satisfied with the early return.


Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays

Bo Bichette might not get the credit he deserves as he is often overshadowed by another prospect in the organization. Bichette played the entire 2018 season in Double-A where he filled up the stat sheet 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. If you’re looking for a hole in his game, you’ll not find it with plate discipline as he took his fair share of walks (8%) and limited his strikeouts (17%). Bichette is even adept at using the whole field, pulling balls 37% of the time and hitting 41% to the opposite field. He will likely start the 2019 season at Triple-A, but there is absolutely nothing standing in his way at the majors. The proximity to the majors makes him an increasingly valuable asset, especially so close to likely reuniting with fellow stud prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Reasons to buy: Power/speed combo. Potential to be a better fantasy asset than Vlad Jr.
Reasons to sell: You don’t have a need at any middle infield or utility positions. You can market his top-five prospect status into a top-50 player that helps your roster elsewhere.


Andres Gimenez, New York Mets

Andres Gimenez, measuring in at 5’11”/161lbs, has been gaining a lot of steam this offseason. Gimenez started the 2018 season at High-A as a 19-year-old. He performed well with a .282 batting average, 28 stolen bases, and six homers. His strikeout rate (19.9%) was the highest of his short three-year professional career, but even then, it isn’t a concern. The Mets got more ambitious with Gimenez and promoted him to Double-A. His approach at the plate is so advanced that his strikeout rate dropped back down to his normal level (14.4%) against older competition. While he didn’t hit any homers, he did steal 10 bases and hit for a .277 batting average.

Thus far, Gimenez’ swing is built for contact, and his contact skills take advantage of the entire field. Also, his decent bat speed will generate success through line-drives. Across two levels, he hit 29 doubles and five triples. However, his bat speed and better-than-average speed won’t always save him when he averages a 56% ground-ball rate, as he did in 2018. As he grows, Gimenez will fill out and hopefully develop a little more loft in his swing. Then he should surprise with more power than expected.

Reasons to buy: You enjoy players with elite contact skills and have the patience to see if power develops and speed sustains.
Reasons to sell: You are risk averse and will sell now while the gossip is hot instead of speculating on a player who might hit 10 homers and steals 20 bags with a .280 batting average.


Stock Falling

Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies

Since drafted as the third overall pick in the 2015 draft, Brendan Rodgers has been considered one of the top three prospects at the position. His performance over the four-year minor league journey has done nothing to assuage these opinions. At Double-A to start 2018, he hit 17 homers, stole 12 bases, and had a .275 batting average. So, why is he on ’Stock Falling’ side of the list? There is no denying that Rodgers’ bat is explosive, but the venues have to be considered in his statistics. The Rockies’ entire minor league system is situated at various hitter-friendly locations, Triple-A Albuquerque is no exception. After stomping his way across four levels, the Rockies promoted Rodgers to Albuquerque in late July where he received a cold shower. In 72 plate appearances, he had a .232 average with a 1.4% walk rate and a 22% strikeout rate.

Currently, he is no longer on the podium of shortstop prospects, but he still has a ton of value, especially with Coors Field as his ultimate destination. However, the pedestal that many fantasy owners put him on is a bit more tarnished.

Reasons to buy: He is still an explosive bat that will call Coors home soon. His slight scuffle in performance at Triple-A might give even the slightest of discount.
Reasons to sell: He is still very valuable and could be combined with a top-100 player to fetch a top-50 player from a rebuilding team.


Nick Gordon, Minnesota Twins

Many people had lofty expectations of former first-round pick Nick Gordon, especially when considering the successes his brother, Dee, has had in major league baseball. Hopefully, those same individuals have realized that they are two distinct baseball players. Nick Gordon does not have the speed that his brother possesses. He doesn’t possess much power and his primary skill, hit-tool, isn’t elite, but Gordon is a solid baseball player.

In 2018, Gordon spent time across two levels, Double- and Triple-A. He started the year hitting .333 and five homers in 42 games in his second appearance at Double-A. In May, Gordon was promoted to Triple-A and found many challenges. In 410 plate appearances, he hit two homers and four triples with a .212 batting average. He did have 13 steals though. Gordon racked up 20 steals combined in 2018, but that isn’t guaranteed to translate at the majors. Gordon will start 2019 at Triple-A. There isn’t a dominant force to block him at either shortstop or second base on the major league roster. However, Gordon hasn’t proven to be better than what is currently available.

Reasons to buy: Uhhh, don’t look at me.
Reasons to sell: While he’s a solid player, Gordon doesn’t have much upside. He should be in the 10-15 range for both homers and steals. If someone in your league still values his name, take advantage.


Jorge Mateo, Oakland Athletics

Jorge Mateo was once the next big thing, like boysenberry bread. Well, like boysenberry, some fans love it and those that have tried it and moved on; there are even fans that didn’t know it was a thing. Mateo was hot stuff when he was a young prospect coming up in the Yankees organization. Many salivated in 2015 when he stole 82 bases and still had a .278 batting average. But, there were still questions of hit-tool and power. In 2017, he hit 12 homers to go with his 52 SB, and he maintained a .267 AVG. In 2018, now with Oakland, Mateo was assigned to Triple-A and declined in all facets of his game. His main attraction, speed, dropped to 25, the power (three homers) became nonexistent, and any amount of a respectable batting average became foreign to him (.230), even with a .316 BABIP. Mateo will start the 2019 season at Triple-A in hopes of figuring out things at the plate. If Mateo is unable to improve his hit tool, he runs the risk of becoming a one-dimensional speed savant.

Reasons to buy: Your dynasty team needs speed in any way it can get; you’re confident you can buy low and somehow a solid 2019 at Triple-A will increase his value. Mateo is a high-upside/high-risk player.
Reasons to sell: Someone in your league still has traces of drool over the speed potential; you don’t want to wait to see if he can hit enough. Too much risk for you.

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