If you came to me eight years ago and asked about the depth at shortstop, I would tell you that aside from a few stud prospects, the shortstop position did not look great. There weren’t a lot of impact bats and there were mostly just some slick defenders at the position.
Now all of that has changed. With guys like Xander Bogaerts, Corey Seager, Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor already in the majors and many more shortstop prospects knocking on the door, the position looks to be one of the most loaded in all of baseball. In fact, I would say that in three years the shortstop position could potentially have as many impact bats as either of the corner infield positions. While it certainly is disappointing not to be the proud owner of Corey Seager in a dynasty league right now, owners can rest assured that there are plenty of other quality bats at the shortstop position on the cusp of bursting onto the scene.
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Shortstop Dynasty Rankings
A quick note on how these articles are formatted. They are going to be sorted by who I think is the best option for dynasty owners based on a combination of estimated time of arrival and potential upside. I will include their stats from their current level, their age, their ETA and lastly a talent grade. The talent grade will be an all-encompassing grade designed to inform dynasty owners of how big of a fantasy impact a player will realistically have. It will take into account how long it takes to reach the big leagues and will be on a scale of 1-10.
1. Dansby Swanson (ATL, AA)
Stats: 214 PA, .275/.357/.423, 5 HR, 3 SB, 17.5% K rate, 9.5% BB rate
ETA: August 2016
Earlier in the season, Swanson was tearing up the minors so much that it looked like a 2016 promotion to the big leagues was inevitable. Though early struggles at Double-A have slowed down his momentum, he is swinging a hot bat over his last 18 games with .358/.429/.537 slash line with a home run, a 10.4% BB rate and a 19.5% strikeout rate. It now looks like he could potentially force his way onto a big league roster before the end of the season and likely has made himself the starting shortstop for the Braves in 2017.
It is the bat that got Swanson drafted and it is what gets scouts clamoring the most. He receives a lot of praise for his advanced patience at the plate and quick bat. He has not hit for much power in the minors so far and though it is far from his best tool, the 22-year-old shortstop is believed to have 15 home run power. His speed on the basepaths ranks among the best at the shortstop position and it should enable him to become a 20 steal threat in the big leagues.
Defensively, Swanson is solid enough that there should not be many questions about whether or not he will need to switch positions. The Braves do have Ozhaino Albies in the system as well, but Albies is starting to play second base at Double-A, likely indicating that Swanson is the franchise shortstop. With his explosive talents, he should be owned in all leagues.
Talent grade: 9
2. Brendan Rodgers (COL, A)
Stats: 294 PA, .294/.362/.492, 11 HR, 2 SB, 18.0% K rate, 7.8% BB rate
All Rodgers has done in his limited time in the minors is hit and hit some more. The third shortstop and third overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft already has 10 home runs this season and could finish the season in High-A with the possibility of starting 2017 at Double-A. He was widely considered the top bat of the three shortstops, but since he was just coming out of high school, many figured he would likely require more time than the other two shortstops. Though he is still a few years away from the big leagues, he easily has the highest fantasy upside of any MiLB shortstop.
The upside all stems from his bat and it is given a major boost by his future home of Coors Field. He has the most power out of all of the shortstop prospects with 20 dingers a very likely outcome even if he didn’t play in Coors Field. Scouts also believe that more than just hitting for power, Rodgers has bat speed and ability to spray the ball all over the field which should allow him to hit for a high average. His speed on the basepaths won’t net him 20 bags per season, but 10-15 at his peak is totally plausible.
The Rockies’ top prospect has easily the highest upside of anyone on this list and would’ve been number one on this list if not for him still being a few years away from the majors. There are questions about him defensively with some believing he will have to change positions, the most likely position for him to move would be second which would put him right up with Yoan Moncada for the most valuable second base prospects. The name Troy Tulowitzki gets thrown a lot whenever there is talk of a Colorado shortstop, but this is a guy with a very legitimate chance to reach that level of offensive upside. If owners have the patience to wait for him, he could end up as the most productive batter on this list.
Talent grade: 9
3. Alex Bregman (HOU, AAA)
Stats: (from AA) 285 PA, .297/.415/.559, 14 HR, 5 SB, 9.1% K rate, 14.7% BB rate
ETA: August 2016
The second pick and second shortstop taken in the 2015 MLB Draft, Bregman has already torn up the Minor Leagues. Unlike his counterpart and first overall pick in that draft Dansby Swanson, the Astros’ shortstop absolutely mashed Double-A prior to his Triple-A promotion where he has continued to swing a hot stick. Since his promotion, the 22-year-old is slashing .389/.421/.889 with five home runs, a 5.3% walk rate and an 18.4% strikeout rate. He should reach he big leagues shortly after the All-Star Break.
While Swanson possesses only average to slightly above-average power and well above average speed, Bregman has above-average power (for a shortstop) and only average to slightly above-average speed. Scouts believe that Bregman has 20+ home run potential with the ability to swipe 10-15 bags per season. Additionally, he has demonstrated advanced plate discipline and a quick bat, leading many to believe he could hit .290-.300 in the big leagues.
With Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve at short and second base, respectively, there does not appear to be much of a home for Bregman at the moment. He has taken reps at third base and could still theoretically take shortstop over for the below-average defender Correa, but a move to third is the most likely outcome. Such a move would diminish his fantasy value as his bat would only profile as above-average and not well above-average for the position, but nonetheless he has enough talent that he should be owned in all dynasty leagues.
Talent grade: 9
4. J.P. Crawford (PHI, AAA)
Stats: 197 PA, .264/.338/.333, 1 HR, 5 SB, 14.2% K rate, 9.6% BB rate
Taken 16th overall back in the 2013 MLB Draft, Crawford has always had high expectations and has consistently lived up to them. But early struggles at Triple-A caused a bit of concern among Phillies fans and owners of Crawford alike. He has made sure to right the ship, however, with a .352/.398/.462 slash, a home run, a pair of stolen bases, a 6.0% walk rate and 12.0% strikeout rate in his past 22 games. I think he will be just fine.
At every level, Crawford has consistently shown an ability to hit and reach base. Whether it was via a walk or with a hit, the Phillies’ top prospect has always reached base at a high clip. Scouts praise his above-average plate discipline that has seen him frequently post walk rates equal or higher than his strikeout rates. Scouts are generally mixed on his pop with some believing that he can hit 15 in a season and others believing that he probably tops out at 10. To this point in his professional career, he has only hit double-digits in home runs in a season once: in 2014 between A and High-A when he hit 11. His speed is above-average, but he probably is only a 15-20 stolen base threat at the big league levels.
I’m probably going to get a lot of hate out there for not having Crawford at the top spot, but hear me out before you type away your angry comments. Crawford has promising plate discipline and solid speed, but for me personally his average speed is about equal to Rodgers’ and Bregman’s speed and he lacks the power of any of the top three. Defensively, Crawford is a much more well-rounded shortstop and the most likely of the top-four to remain at the position, but the other three are just more explosive offensively. With that said, Crawford is still very much a must-own prospect in dynasty leagues and should be stashed as he looks poised to have a major impact as early as next season.
Talent grade: 8.5
5. Trea Turner (WAS, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 371 PA, .302/.370/.471, 6 HR, 25 SB, 19.4% K rate, 10.0% BB rate
It seems like Trea Turner only reaches the majors when Ryan Zimmerman is unavailable. Zimmerman goes on paternity leave and Turner is promoted. Then Zimm is put on the 15-day DL and Turner is recalled. I do believe though that Turner is up for good this time. With him spending some time at center field at Triple-A, he now offers a better bat than the duo of Ben Revere and Michael Taylor while also providing solid defense.
Turner’s most promising attribute is by far his speed. He is one of the fastest players in the minors with scouts believing him to have 30+ stolen base speed. And unlike most speedsters, Turner is no slap-hitter. He frequently drives the ball giving evaluators the impression that he could become a double-digit home run hitter at the big league level. It also makes it easier for scouts to envision him batting close to .300 at the top of the Nationals’ lineup in the future.
The biggest questions about Turner have and always will be about his defense. His speed does not play as well in the field and most believe his future as at second base rather than shortstop. He could also take the Billy Hamilton route to playing time and become a middle infielder turned middle outfielder. His speed and ability to hit play well at all positions up the middle (except catcher and pitcher) so he should be just fine from a fantasy perspective. In fact giving the dearth of second base prospects, a move to the right side of the infield could improve his value. He is an absolute must-own in dynasty leagues.
Talent grade: 8.5
6. Ozzie Albies (ATL, AA)
Stats: 132 PA, .397/.470/.534, 1 HR, 5 SB, 11.4% K rate, 10.6% BB rate
The youngest player on this list, Albies has made great strides in his progress having reached Triple-A after only two years of development. After spending all of 2015 at A ball, the 19-year-old shortstop started 2016 at Double-A where he slashed .369/.442/.512 and quickly earning a promotion to Triple-A. After an awful .248/.307/.351 slash line there, he was demoted back down to Double-A where he has since played second base.
Much like Trea Turner, Albies’ most prominent tool is his well above-average speed. He too looks like a 25+ stolen base guy at the big league level. Though the switch-hitting shortstop will not hit for any power at the Major League level, he should hit for a high average and bat atop the Braves’ lineup, giving him enough value at the position.
With Albies now at second base alongside Swanson at Double-A, it is clear that Albies is the second baseman of the future. It appears that while the 19-year-old is sharp defensively, the Braves like Swanson on the left side more. As early as 2017, Braves’ fans and dynasty owners should expect to see Albies leading off with Swanson batting right behind him. Both will provide more than enough fantasy value to warrant owning in all leagues.
Talent grade: 8.5
7. Franklin Barreto (OAK, AA)
Stats: 337 PA, .250/.312/.380, 7 HR, 20 SB, 19.9% K rate, 7.1% BB rate
Barreto was really the centerpiece of the Athletics’ return in the infamous Josh Donaldson that as of today has looked like a steal for the Toronto Blue Jays. But if Barreto is able to live up to his full potential, he could go a long way to flip the script on that narrative. The 20-year-old shortstop got off to a dismal start at Double-A Midland this year, but since May 20 is slashing a respectable .274/.339/.427 with eight stolen bases and three home runs. Since June 15, that slash line is even better at .319/.382/.478 with a 0.70 BB/K ratio with six steals and a home run.
Another shortstop on this list known more for the bat than the glove, Barreto has sneaky power for someone standing at 5’10” and some believe he could 15-20 bombs at the big league level. His speed is not the greatest of anyone on this list, but the general consensus among scouts is that he should be able to match or slightly exceed his home run total in stolen bases. Early on in his career, plate discipline was a much larger concern as was his swing that could get long at times, but he has made great strides in both areas and looks like a guy who could hit .275+ in his career.
As mentioned earlier, Barreto is known more for his bat than his glove. He has improved from a defensive perspective and now appears to be on course to become at least an average defender, but there is still a possibility he gets bumped to second or third. A move to second would improve his value whereas a move to third could reduce his value exponentially. For now though, he has enough promise to give dynasty owners at least 60% confidence that he will stay in the hole and go on to be a solid number two hitter for the Athletics in the near future.
Talent grade: 8
8. Orlando Arcia (MIL, AAA)
Stats: 310 PA, .268/.320/.397, 7 HR, 12 SB, 16.4% K rate, 6.8% BB rate
ETA: August 2016
Arcia has slowly but surely made a name for himself over the past couple years and now is ranked among the top prospects in all of baseball. Ranked sixth among Milwaukee Brewers’ prospects back in 2013 by MLB.com, Arcia is currently listed as the fourth best prospect in all of Major League Baseball and looks like the future at short for the Brewers.
From an offensive perspective, Arcia has two above-average tools and one average. His ability to hit for contact ranks among the best shortstops in the minors and many consider him a lock to hit above .280 in the majors. He is also an above-average base stealer among all prospects. Though he is not nearly as fast as some of the other names on this list, he could swipe 20 bases at the big league level. However, that is likely his peak as far as stolen bases go. His average tool is his power which could possibly drive 10 home runs in the majors, but will probably top out just short of that.
The biggest concern for Arcia is his aggressiveness at the plate. Though he does make consistent contact and therefore limits his strikeout totals, he does not walk a lot and often settles. He is a dead-red fastball hitter, but advanced breaking pitches have given him fits at times. He should be able to adjust as he continues his maturation process, but it is something to watch out for.
Another prospect I know readers will be mad at me for not putting higher, Arcia is a promising prospect known more for his defensive ability than his batting skills. Yes he will hit for a .280+ average, but he probably tops out at 20 stolen bases and 10 bombs at the big league level, which to me is not enough fantasy upside to have him higher than most of the other guys. Like with J.P. Crawford, his defensive abilities make him one of the more complete shortstop prospects and one of the most likely to stay at short of the guys on this list, but defense doesn’t count for fantasy baseball. Plus as discussed in my opening paragraph, he would probably have more value shifting to second base. Still, he has enough to offer that he warrants owning in most dynasty leagues.
Talent grade: 8
9. Gleyber Torres (CHC, A+)
Stats: 345 PA, .268/.350/.424, 9 HR, 13 SB, 21.4% K rate, 9.9% BB rate
Torres may have the second highest upside of any shortstop on this list behind only Brendan Rodgers. Like with Rodgers, he would be higher on this list if not for his probable ETA being a few years from now whereas many of the names on this list will be in the big leagues by next season. This season he has not exactly torn up High-A like many expected him to, but the 19-year-old shortstop has demonstrated that his tools are for real.
Scouts look at Torres as a shortstop with five potentially above-average tools. Standing at 6’1” and 175 pounds, Torres has a big frame that scouts believe he can grow into and eventually generate some power from. He has enough power to reach 10 home runs per season, but if he lives up to his potential he could hit 20+ in a season. He is a quick runner on the bases, though not elite, so he probably tops out at around 25 steals per season. He has not hit for an overwhelmingly high average to this point in his professional career, but that could change in the future. He is a bit aggressive at the plate right now, but scouts believe that he will improve in that area after a bit of maturing in the minors.
With prospects as young and aggressive at the plate as Torres, there is always a little bit of risk involved. If he can’t tone down his approach at the plate, he may struggle to hit for an average at the big league level which reduces his ability to take advantage of his other two tools. He is several years away from reaching the majors, but with his tools, there is simply too much upside to pass up on here.
Talent grade: 8
10. Jorge Mateo (NYY, A+)
Stats: 340 PA, .266/.323/.396, 5 HR, 26 SB, 21.5% K rate, 7.4% BB rate
There is little doubt that Mateo is the fastest player on this list. After stealing 82 bases last season between A and A+, the Yankees’ shortstop has gone right back to his old ways with already 26 stolen bases in 76 games. The wiry shortstop may be the second fastest player in baseball behind only Billy Hamilton and he should continue to put his speed to good use. He recently received a two week suspension for complaining about not receiving a promotion to Double-A, but that should only slow him down a bit and he should probably reach that level before the end of the season.
Offensively, Mateo can do only two things: hit for an average and swipe bases. He is currently batting .270 at High-A and hit .278 last season between two levels. Scouts believe that he has some raw power, but that it will translate more to line drives to the outfield rather than home runs. It is unlikely that he will ever hit more than five home runs in a season. He is more than just a slap hitter, but there are questions about how high of an average he will be able to hit for in the big leagues.
The top Yankees’ prospect has a lot of the same questions that were asked of Billy Hamilton. Will he stay at shortstop? Will he hit for a high enough average to utilize his speed? Will he steal 100 bases at the big league level? Some evaluators believe he can stay at short, but based on his profile I think it is more likely that he will shift to center field. I do believe he will hit for a higher average than Hamilton, but as Billy has shown it is not easy to steal 100 bags. Mateo is still at least two years away from the majors (probably three years from the bigs), but the payoff with his speed could be huge.
Talent grade: 7.5
11. Willy Adames (TB, AA)
Stats: 343 PA, .268/.364/.444, 8 HR, 9 SB, 20.7% K rate, 12.8% BB rate
ETA: September 2016
Adames was the centerpiece of the Tampa Bay Rays’ return in the David Price deal with the Detroit Tigers back in 2014 and he has made the Rays very happy they made that deal. It was clear that Price was not going to resign with the Rays and Tampa Bay received in return a shortstop prospect who looks like the future at the position for the team. I’d say Tampa ended up doing well in their deal.
If you want a reasonable comp for Adames, think Franklin Barreto. Adames is neither a tremendous base-stealer nor a middle-of-the-order power bat, but he is above average in both regards. Though Adames does not have the same magnitude of tools that Barreto possesses, scouts do believe he will be able to hit 10-15 bombs per season and match that total in steals. There is also a general belief that he will be able to hit for a .270+ average in the majors.
Adames is really the first guy on this list to not necessarily be a must-own among shortstop prospects. His tools generally grade out as above-average, but none are so great that he necessitates owning. However unlike many of the names on this list, Adames could very possibly reach the Rays this season as the team currently sees both their shortstops struggling to hit. If dynasty owners can’t get their hands on some of the above mentioned names, Adames still could provide plenty of value to dynasty owners and owners in 2016 redraft leagues.
Talent grade: 6.5
12. Tim Anderson (CWS, MLB)
Stats: 115 PA, .295/.301/.500, 4 HR, 2 SB, 30.4% K rate, 0.9% BB rate
One of two players on this list currently in the majors, Anderson was called up by the White Sox earlier this season to replace journeyman Jimmy Rollins at shortstop. So far, he has turned in some mixed results. He has hit for far more power than he has in the minors as he already has three home runs after hitting only five in all of last season and nine the season before that. He has flashed some of the speed and a solid average to this point, but his plate discipline leaves a lot to be desired.
And most of the results could’ve been predicted by evaluators. Aside from his power surge, Anderson is basically playing into his scouting report. Scouts see him as having well above-average speed capable of swiping 25+ bags per season at the big league level. The big issue for Anderson comes down to the bat. He is very aggressive at the plate and lacks a good eye at the plate leading to high strikeout rates and low walk rates. This could prove to be a bit of an issue for him moving forward as he faces advanced pitching.
Anderson is a guy worth owning because he is currently in the bigs and has the speed to make up for his atrocious plate discipline. His ceiling is somewhat high, but in all likelihood he will probably profile as a bottom-of-the-order speedster for the American League White Sox. On the bright side, he is very likely to stay at short so at least he can steal bases while avoiding the loaded outfield. If he did ever move to center, his fantasy value would take a major hit.
Talent grade: 6
13. Raul Adalberto Mondesi (KC, AA)
Stats: 131 PA, .267/.338/.457, 5 HR, 17 SB, 22.9% K rate, 9.9% BB rate
If you liked Tim Anderson, then meet his switch-hitting near-twin. Raul Mondesi profiles almost exactly the same as Anderson with the only real difference being that Mondesi switch-hits. The 20-year-old shortstop made his Major League debut last season during the Kansas City Royals’ World Series run. He was suspended this season for 50 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug, but that should not affect his value much at all.
As stated earlier, Mondesi is almost exactly the same as Anderson. Both are tall, skinny shortstops whose best tool is their speed. The Royals’ shortstop should be able to steal 20+ bases, though 25 may be about as high as he goes. Mondesi’s plate discipline is slightly better than Anderson’s, but Anderson should be able to hit for more power and for a slightly higher average.
The bottom line: Mondesi can probably stay at shortstop, but the limited upside in his bat leaves a lot to be desired. He will certainly steal a couple of bags, but at the cost of no power and a ~.250 average. He is worth owning in deeper dynasty leagues, but shallower dynasty leagues can wait to add him until he has a starting spot for the team.
Talent grade: 5.5
14. Christian Arroyo (SF, AA)
Stats: 337 PA, .273/.311/.377, 2 HR, 0 SB, 15.7% K rate, 5.6% BB rate
Rated as the top Giants’ prospect by both MLB.com and Baseball America, Christian Arroyo has always had a lot of hype surrounding him. Since he was taken 25th overall back in 2013, he has done nothing but hit at every Minor League level he has reached with scouts now believing that he may only be a year away from the majors.
Unlike a lot of the names on this list, Arroyo does not feature any truly explosive tool. He is the slowest of these shortstops prospects and does not have 20+ home run power. However, what makes him such an attractive shortstop prospect is his incredibly high floor and his proven ability to hit for a high average. Scouts universally recognize him as a guy who can hit .280+ and probably exceed .300 in his prime. And while AT&T Park will not help him out too much in the power department, scouts do believe that he can mash 15 bombs.
Arroyo is far from the most electric player on this list. In fact, examining what he brings fantasy owners in the future, he is really only a one tool, fringe two tool player at best with him possibly hitting for both average with a little bit of pop. But what gives him so much value is that he is likely to shift to second base in the future, a position much thinner on offensive talent than shortstop. There his bat profiles as above-average. If he stays at short, his value takes a huge hit, but with Brandon Crawford manning short with the Giants and Arroyo’s below-average defensive skills, it seems very likely he moves over to second in the future.
Talent grade: 5
15. Amed Rosario (NYM, AA)
Stats: 65 PA, .424/.462/.610, 0 HR, 1 SB, 15.4% K rate, 7.7% BB rate
The last two guys on this list were guys with speed who couldn’t hit. The next two guys can hit, but lack alternate explosive attributes. First up is the Mets’ shortstop Amed Rosario. Rosario just reached Double-A a couple of days ago after really beating up High-A. And for a team that has not had a stable presence at shortstop since Jose Reyes left for Miami, the Mets are probably very excited about the potential to see Rosario reach the big leagues by next season or 2018.
Rosario does not blow anyone away with his skills, but he should be able to do just enough to have a solid impact at the big league level. Scouts are big fans of his bat and believe that he could be a .270+ hitter in the majors. He lacks tremendous home run power and at his absolute best probably tops out at 10 bombs per season. His speed is above-average, but it is unlikely he will reach 20 swipes in a single season. Rosario does possess an advanced approach to the plate which should lead to a high OBP, but that is probably the extent of his fantasy value.
Defensively, Rosario is sharp enough to stay at short and not move over to second or third. The problem with him is that unlike many shortstops on this list, he lacks any explosive tools other than his ability to hit for an average. If you are in a deeper dynasty league and need some help out of the shortstop position, Rosario is at least a solid bet to provide a decent batting average. But shallower dynasty leagues could probably look elsewhere for production.
Talent grade: 3.5
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