“Alluhring Strategy” Pre-Season Prospect Power Rankings: Middle Infield Part 2 – Shortstop (2015)
It is my pleasure to wrap up MLFS’ minor league rankings with the deepest position of impact prospects. It wasn’t that long ago when Major League teams were happy with a slick fielding Shortstop that hit .250 and stole 10 bags. TImes have changed and some of the best prospects and athletes enter into pro ball at the Shortstop position. Many “grow out” of the body type and get moved to a power position (Corner Infield/Corner Outfield) or they don’t develop defensively at the position and get moved to Centerfield.
If you haven’t been reading this column over the last three weeks, its important to realize these rankings are designed to give you prospects that will have an impact on your fantasy team and league in the next 1-2 years. There are a half-dozen or so young Shortstops that are better long-term prospects than some of the guys on this list. Some have been recently drafted out of high school (Nick Gordon, Trea Turner) or teenagers signed as International Free Agents (Franklin Barreto, Raul Mondesi). These players are likely 3 years or more from making an impact on the Major League level, therefore they are being left off this list. Our Top 10 Impact Shortstop Prospects can be split up into four (4) tiers…
- Future All-Stars
- Potential for One or More PLUS Offensive Tool(s)
- Potential Contributor in Multiple Categories
- Keep an Eye On…
1. Carlos Correa, HOU –> ETA Early-Mid 2016
If it weren’t for his brutal leg injury in 2014, we might be talking about a 2015 debut for this Top 5 overall prospect. Correa is a special talent that has the potential of developing a plus power and hit tool. He has already displayed excellent plate discipline with 15% K rate and 12% BB rate and should be able to reach double-digit steals. He has the potential to become a perennial All-Star and contribute in every offensive fantasy category. He will likely spend 2015 in AA and may break camp in 2016 with the Astros or at worst debut that Summer.
2. Addison Russell, CHC –> ETA Late 2015
Russell could easily be classified as #1A, but I see him just a slight notch below Correa. Russell is ready for his debut and might already be in the Majors if he wasn’t traded to the Cubs during the 2014 season. Now he is in a system loaded with talented young position players. With Starlin Castro rebounding last year, the Cubs don’t seem to be in a hurry to bring him up. There is a little doubt he will hit, but he might “out-grow” Shortstop and move over to 3B. This really doesn’t help him with Kris Bryant looming over the 3B position. Russell already boasts plus power AND speed and arguably another Top 5 overall talent. He should be up in the Big Leagues at some point this year either in Chicago or as part of another trade if the Cubs are making a serious run this year. If they are falling short before the deadline, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them move Castro for some young pitching and hand over Shortstop duties to Russell.
3. Corey Seager, LAD –> ETA Early 2016
Seager is the last of the Top Tier Shortstop prospects. As with Russell his plus power and large frame make some question whether he will stick at SS or have to move over to 3B like his brother, Kyle. Defensively, he is the weakest of the three and most likely to move off the position and he does not have much speed. However, his power should translate in the Majors. His poor contact (22% K Rate in 2014) may hinder the development of his hit tool to reaching plus status. With the newly acquired, Jimmy Rollins, manning the SS position in 2015, the Dodgers will likely hold off Seager’s debut until 2016.
Potential Development of One or More PLUS Tool(s)
4. JP Crawford, PHI –> ETA Early 2016
The next two on this list will dazzle us with speed and defense. JP only turns 20 this year, but his hit tool has developed faster than most expected and with Freddy Galvis the projected Phillies’ SS in 2015, they may be tempted to get him up this year. He looked great in the 2014 Future’s game and has fantastic plate discipline. If his power develops into 15+ HRs per season, he could jump up to be a top fantasy producer in a few seasons. Dynasty league owners should be targeting this guy now. He might already be too expensive to acquire.
5. Francisco Lindor, CLE –> ETA Mid 2015
If you are in a fantasy league that counts defense, Lindor might jump up to the top of this list. Since most leagues do not, he drops down to #5 as his plus speed is the tool that will have the most fantasy impact. He has improved his contact rate and should develop an above average hit tool and gets on base. He did manage 11 HRs in 2014 and if the power develops into double-digit potential in the Majors, he will raise up the list. With only Mike Aviles and Jose Ramirez ahead of him this year at Shortstop, he will likely be called up after the Super Two period passes.
6. Tim Anderson, CWS –> ETA Early 2016
Tim is still a project of sorts but with Alexei Ramirez entering the last guaranteed year of his contract, I can see the White Sox preparing him to take over as the everyday SS in 2016. Anderson has plus speed with developing hit and power tools. He strikes out way too much (24% career) and almost never walks. That being said, he is athletic and “toolsy” enough to make a fantasy impact even if he never develops plate discipline.
Potential Contributor in Multiple Categories
7. Daniel Robertson, TB –> ETA
Robertson comes in at #7 on this list because he has a higher floor than the rest of the guys below him, however, he also has a lower ceiling than the rest of them as well. Daniel projects as above average power and hit tool. He can get extra base hits and has decent plate discipline. None of his tools project as PLUS, but he will be able to contribute to your fantasy team around 12-15 HRs and .280 avg. per year. He still needs to spend some time in the upper minors to ensure his tools will hold up against better talent. Asdrubal Cabrera is only on a one year deal, so TB is likely targeting Robertson to take over in 2016. His defense is adequate at best and might move him over to 2B. This is a distinct possibility with two teenage SS prospects in the system (Willy Adames & Adrian Rondon).
8. Amed Rosario, NYM –> ETA Late 2016
Another young guy with potential above average power, speed and hit tool, Rosario will likely spend 2015 in AA The Mets desperately need a SS and you wonder if they will be patient enough to allow him to develop enough to impact the Major Leagues. He is still a little raw but could break out this year. If so, he could be in New York early in 2016, but it will be to everyone’s advantage to limp along with a serviceable option at SS until he’s ready. His ceiling is much higher than Robertson’s but he could bust if not allowed to develop at a reasonable pace. Keep him on your radar this year and see how he fares in AA. Dynasty owners should be looking to get him now as he might be too expensive to acquire after this year.
9. Jorge Polanco, MIN –> ETA Mid-2015
Jorge is the first prospect on the list that already debuted in the Big Leagues. However, the cup of coffee didn’t go particularly well and there is no place for him to get regular at bats. The Twins called him up from A ball last year in a very peculiar move. With Santana and Dozier set up the middle and Nick Gordon on his heels, Polanco may never be more than a utility infielder unless he’s traded. He has potential above average hit tool, on base skills and speed but not a high ceiling. He can play 2B and SS so can be a valuable player that can get regular at bats in the future, especially if there is a significant injury. He likely won’t make a fantasy impact this year, even if called up, but might warrant a late round pick in 2016 for lineup depth.
Keep Your Eye On…
10. Jung-Ho Kang, PIT –> ETA Early 2015
Dynasty league owners are going after this guy as an immediate impact bat to plug-in at SS. He should make the club out of Spring Training but unlikely to take over the starting gig from Jordy Mercer. At 27, he’s older than all the other prospects on this list and frankly hasn’t played against any notable competition over in Korea. His power is intriguing, but he strikes out a ton and likely will hit below .250. I recommend refraining from bidding on him in FAAB or Auction drafts. I plan to take a wait and see approach. If you want to take a flier in a late round of a standard draft, he could give some value there. I would just temper expectations until we see how he handles top caliber pitching.
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Major League Fantasy Sports Radio Show: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday March 1st, 2015 from 7pm – 8:30pm EST for this week’s episode of Major League Fantasy Sports Radio sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio network. We will be taking live callers at 646.915.8596 during the show. Our topics will be minor league pitchers/hitters who will have an impact this season in the majors the first half of the show, and the 1st base position the second half of the show.
Our guests this week include Bryan Luhrs, Kyle Amore, and Lou Landers. Bryan is the owner of Real Deal Dynasty Sports and a writer with MLFS. His articles publish every Saturday morning. Kyle Amore is a writer with MLFS, and his artilces publish every Tuesday morning. Lou Landers is a veteran writer with MLFS, and his articles publish every Wednesday morning.
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