Not since the early to mid-‘90s have we had a time period in Fantasy Baseball where we were waiting for young shortstops to arrive to fill our Fantasy rosters. Back then, we had guys like Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra and eventually Miguel Tejada getting picked up in the early rounds of Fantasy Baseball drafts because they had power and could hit for average.
But now, we’re looking at a handful of shortstops coming down the pike that have promise enough to possibly fill our early rounds of Fantasy Baseball drafts in the late ‘10s.
The fine folks at Baseball Prospectus have three shortstops among their top four prospects in their most recent Top 100 list. As a matter of fact, four of the top seven prospects are shortstops, and seven of the top 40!
Young Shortstops On the Rise in 2015
Here are the top young shortstops on the horizon in Fantasy Baseball. Remember, though, a shortstop is needed more for his hot glove, quick feet and strong arm than he is a powerful bat. What I mean by that is – they won’t get the call until their defense is ready – regardless of how well they’re hitting.
Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs: The Athletics traded Russell to the Cubs in exchange for SP Jeff Samardzija last season, who they only rented part-time, since he’ll be pitching for the White Sox this season. Russell, unfortunately, is currently blocked at shortstop in Wrigley Field, with Starlin Castro already installed, and Javier Baez holding down second base. Fellow rookies Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler could battle for NL Rookie of the Year honors 26 years after Jerome Walton and Dwight Smith finished 1-2 in 1989. But in 2016, it could be Russell and Kyle Schwarber, who could move from catcher to left field at some point, battling for 1-2 again. When Russell gets the call, you can expect a high-priced battle for his services on FAAB.
Carlos Correia, Houston: 6-foot-4 shortstops that pack power are few and far between, but Correia broke his fibula last season, and he’s going to need some time before he shows up on the Major League roster. The first overall draft pick will likely arrive next year, as the Astros brought back Jed Lowrie this past season, and Correia has to develop more.
Francisco Lindor, Cleveland: At just 21 years old, Lindor might have the best glove and footwork in the whole group, and we expect him to spend most of 2015 at Double-A and Triple-A. The switch-hitter is the Tribe’s top prospect, and it’s really only a matter of time before he overtakes Jose Ramirez, who is just one year older than him. Unfortunately, Lindor is more of a contact hitter, with a little power – maybe more like the Derek Jeter of the group – with much better defensive skills.
Corey Seager, L.A. Dodgers: Finally, Seager shows up as the seventh-best prospect in baseball! … But just the fourth-best shortstop. As Kyle Seager’s little brother, I’m sure he has grown accustomed to getting overlooked just a bit. Seager’s another 6-foot-4 shortstop, but it’s more likely that he’ll end up playing third base at Chavez Ravine for most of his career. The Dodgers traded for Jimmy Rollins this offseason, and he’ll serve as the 2015 bridge to Seager in 2016.
Old, Veteran Young Shortstops
If we look at the current starting shortstops on MLB rosters, we’ll find even more young talent.
- Castro, who I mentioned earlier as the starter at short for the Cubs, has already had his breakout (2011), bust (2013) and rebound seasons (2014) – and he’ll turn just 25 years old in March. I doubt he’ll be with the Cubs in 2016, so he could be a trade piece later this summer.
- Elvis Andrus is another guy that has been condemned plenty of times in his career after an initial breakout. While he’s not necessarily the most powerful shortstop in the game (just six homers in the past two seasons), his 69 stolen bases over the past two years lead the position. And he’s still just 26 years old!
- Javier Baez, the third Cubs shortstop mentioned in this article, hit three home runs in his first three games last season, but he struck out way too much for anyone’s liking. At 22 years old, he has time to correct that. But for 2015, our Buck Davidson lists Baez as one of his busts as the shortstop position.
- Xander Bogaerts, 22, will work at the back of Boston’s lineup in his sophomore season, and like Baez, the bloom is off the rose for this former top prospect. Only eight other shortstops hit more than his 12 homers last season, and Bogaerts has a chance to be a 20-HR hitter this season if he can strike out less and straighten out some flyballs.
- Jean Segura was second behind Andrus in stolen bases over the past two seasons with 64 (in 203 fewer plate appearances than Andrus). The big difference between the two is that Segura also has 17 homers in that span. His putrid .288 on-base percentage killed his owners last season, but he’s a rebound candidate in his third full season.
Are you loading up on any of these young shortstops in 2015, or are you playing it safe with the high floor/low ceiling veteran players like Alexei Ramirez, Jimmy Rollins and Ben Zobrist?
Corey Seager Photo Credit: Dustin Nosler
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