Prospect Watch: Top 10 shortstops
Rangers' Profar, Tribe's Lindor head list of offensively and defensively gifted players
MLB.com's 2013 Top 100 list will be unveiled on Tuesday on MLB.com and during a one-hour show on MLB Network airing at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to that, MLB.com takes a look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.
The No. 1 shortstop on the 2012 Top 10 shortstops list, Manny Machado of the Orioles, graduated to the big leagues, albeit to play third base. Two others made the move to the highest level at their natural position. Another has moved to center field. This year’s Top 10 shortstops list has six repeat performers. Of the four newcomers, two, including the No. 1 overall pick, hail from the first round of the 2012 Draft.
1. Jurickson Profar, Rangers: When you homer in your first big league at-bat, you might think there’s no place to go but down. But Profar is just beginning to scratch the surface of his enormous potential. The Curacao native signed with the Rangers in 2009 and has been collecting accolades, including a league MVP, two All-Star selections and two trips to the Futures Game. He’ll be just 20 years old for all of the 2013 season and the sky might just be the limit.
2. Francisco Lindor, Indians: The eighth overall selection in the 2011 Draft was a Midwest League All-Star and a Futures Game participant in his first full season. A tremendous defensive shortstop, this Florida high school product has a good approach at the plate from both sides, runs well and should grow into some more power as he develops. He has off-the-charts makeup and he’ll still be a teenager for the entire season, so he’s far ahead of the curve.
3. Javier Baez, Cubs: Taken No. 9 overall in the 2011 Draft, just one spot after Lindor, Baez might be the more dynamic pure hitter of the two, even if Lindor is the better defender. Baez's plus bat speed will allow him to hit for average and power, both of which have already been on display, and he will improve as he refines his approach. He’s not without defensive skills, with a strong arm and good hands, and more folks are thinking he can stay at shortstop than did when he was coming out of the Florida high school ranks. Even if Baez has to slide to third base, his bat will profile just fine there.
4. Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox: Boston's Minor League Player of the Year in 2012, Bogaerts signed with the organization out of Aruba in 2009 and has been hitting ever since. He will hit for average and power, and if he can continue to improve his pitch selection -- something he did well for much of 2012, but not after a promotion to Double-A -- he could put up monster numbers at the big league level. At one point, most believed Bogaerts would outgrow shortstop. He has the bat to profile at third base or right field, but he’s been proving that he might have the tools to stick at shortstop for the long term.
5. Carlos Correa, Astros: Taking Correa No. 1 overall certainly allowed the Astros to be creative later in the 2012 Draft, but that doesn’t mean the native of Puerto Rico was simply a bargain pick. The shortstop has outstanding tools that would have had him off the board in the early stages of the first round anyway. Correa's range, arm and defensive actions are all above average. The Puerto Rico Baseball Academy product and the highest selection from the island also has the chance to be an impact hitter, as he has tremendous raw power and excellent bat speed. That and his strong work ethic have the Astros excited about his development.
6. Nick Franklin, Mariners: A 20-20 season in 2010 set the bar high for this 2009 first-round pick, and while he dealt with injuries that set him back in 2011, he bounced back with a much more solid season in 2012. A two-time Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game participant, Franklin is a very good athlete who has the chance to hit for some power and steal some bases, even if he doesn’t approach the numbers of that first full season again. He’s played both shortstop and second base and some see his long-term future on the right side of the diamond, though the Mariners are committed to him playing shortstop for now.
Top 10 shortstop prospects
|1||Manny Machado, BAL||1||Manny Machado, BAL|
|2||Jurickson Profar, TEX||2||Nick Franklin, SEA|
|3||Francisco Lindor, CLE||3||Jose Iglesias, BOS|
|4||Billy Hamilton, CIN||4||Dee Gordon, LAD|
|5||Hak Ju-Lee, TB||5||Jurickson Profar, TEX|
|6||Nick Franklin, SEA||6||Wilmer Flores, NYM|
|7||Jean Segura, LAA||7||Adeiny Hechavarria, TOR|
|8||Javier Baez, CHC||8||Grant Green, OAK|
|9||Andrelton Simmons, ATL||9||Christian Colon, KC|
|10||Xander Bogaerts, BOS||10||Chris Owings, ARI|
7. Addison Russell, A’s: There may not have been another 2012 draftee who had a better pro debut. The No. 11 overall pick earned two promotions and finished the summer in full-season ball, perhaps putting him on a fast track for a high school product. Russell has the ability to hit for average and power and his speed, along with his aggressiveness, should allow him to steal bases as well. There once was a question about his defensive home, but better conditioning has ended those concerns, and all who saw him during his debut believe he’ll stay at shortstop for the long term.
8. Alen Hanson, Pirates: Since making his United States debut in 2011, Hanson has done nothing but impress with his athleticism. The Dominican infielder, who signed in July 2009, is proving to be much more than just speed and raw tools. He was a South Atlantic League All-Star as he made his full-season debut in 2012 as a teenager, topping the league in a host of offensive categories. Hanson's speed will allow him to continue to steal bases and gives him good range defensively, but the power has come faster than expected. Despite some struggles defensively, many believe he’ll develop into a decent defensive shortstop, with a worst-case scenario being that he moves to second, a position he’s played in the past.
9. Hak-Ju Lee, Rays: Originally signed out of South Korea by the Cubs in 2008 for $725,000, Lee was sent to the Rays in the Matt Garza deal in January 2011. The two-time Futures Game participant and 2012 Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game player has been a midseason or postseason All-Star in every league he’s played in throughout his Minor League career. Lee is a plus defensive shortstop across the board, one who should compete for Gold Glove honors annually. His speed should allow him to continue to steal bases, and if he can gain more strength, he can be more than a slap singles hitter.
10. Didi Gregorius, D-backs: The Reds made quite a find when they signed Gregorius out of Curacao in 2007. He reached the big leagues in 2012 after beginning the year as a Southern League All-Star. Gregorius' tools and athleticism are a big reason why the D-backs were so excited to obtain him in December in a three-team deal that sent Trevor Bauer to Cleveland and Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati. Gregorius can cover a ton of ground and has the arm to match his range. While he can be too aggressive at the plate at times, he does have a pretty good idea of what he’s doing from the left side.