Prospect rankings remain a snapshot of a moment in time, as more information is gathered constantly and new reports can change any number of perceptions on a player's future value. With the end of the minor league season, now's a good time to take a look back at our preseason prospect rankings, and see how some of these perceptions might have changed.
Shortstop prospects are generally viewed as the elite of the all prospects, as players that can stay at the position while providing above-average offensive production are among the rarest of all. We definitely appear to be in a period where young shortstop talent may be at its' highest level in yeras, both in terms of elite talent like Bogaerts as well as solid major league potential in Owings and Gregorius.
Note: These are not new rankings. These rankings were originally released in December of 2012.
Consensus Top 20 Shortstop Prospects
|#||Player||Org||Highest Level Reached|
|13||Raul A. Mondesi||KCR||A|
Javier Baez - Baez proved all season long that regardless of what position he ends up playing, he's going to have the potential to be an elite level hitter. Between High-A and AA, he clubbed 37 home runs and stole 20 bases while hitting .282/.341/.578. There remain questions about whether he can stay at shortstop long-term, and there are still concerns about Baez' ability to deal with advanced pitching, but he's come a long way toward answering those questions. He'll spend October in the Arizona Fall League, and it wouldn't surprise me if the Cubs sent him to AAA to start 2014.
Addison Russell - Russell was the youngest player in the California League at the start of the season, and after a slow start he more than held his own against the advanced competition. Despite the slow start, Russell finished with a .275/.377/.508 line with 17 home runs and 21 stolen bases in 107 games at High-A. While he did reach AAA for the last week of the season, that had more to do with Sacramento still being in a playoff race and Stockton not. He is also headed to the AFL (on the same infield, as well), and it wouldn't surprise me if he reached AAA next year after some time with AA Midland.
Corey Seager - Seager is definitely a player I was too low on, and for him the reports are ahead of the numbers. The numbers were still good (.269/.351/.473, 16 HR, 10 SB in 101 games), but the big takeaway for me comes from an interview that Dustin Nosler of Chadmoriyama.com did with Logan White, the Dodgers' VP of Amateur Scouting:
You know what, I do [think he sticks at shortstop]. That's why I drafted him there. Now, it's kind of like "pick your poison." Is he going to be a flashy, lateral, crazy-range guy with flash and flair? No, that's not his style. But he has great hands and he's going to catch what he gets to. He has a unique sense of timing. He's a really smart guy, has a real awareness on the field. I think he's going to be a really steady player and I think managers in the big leagues love having a guy who, when it's hit to him, they know it's an out. And that's the guy he'll be. Now, obviously, you'd have to have a crystal ball to know. If somehow we ended with an Omar Vizquel in the organization, yeah, then you would consider maybe moving Corey. At this time, I think Corey - I think we all feel - Corey can play shortstop and is gonna stay at shortstop.
One of the questions surrounding Seager was whether he can avoid a move to third base, and the fact that the organization at least in part thinks it's a good possibility gives me confidence to believe it as well. He was the second youngest player in the California League this year (behind just Russell), and will likely return there to start 2014.
Trevor Story - Story came into the season viewed as a prospect with an extremely high likelihood to stay at shortstop long term who was coming off of a very good offensive season in a pitchers' league. And while moving up to the California League is usually expected to be a great thing for a hitter, Modesto plays closer to neutral than most of the league. Even still, to say you expected Story to go out and hit .233/.305/.394 was probably some excellent hindsight. He did still hit for power (12 home runs, 34 doubles), and stole 23 bases, but struck out in nearly 1/3 of his at bats (183 times in total).
Jurickson Profar - I don't know if I would say that Profar's status as a prospect has really dropped, but he could end up being a bargain in drafts in 2014 now that he has lost his eligibility. He has been used as a super-sub more than an everyday player by the Rangers this year, appearing in 80 games so far and hitting .235/.308/.329. It's not clear that he will have an everyday role to start the 2014 season as of now, but he should still be a solid option across the 5 categories at a premium position if he does.
Hak-Ju Lee - Is it really fair to say that a player's status changed due to an injury, as is the case with Lee? He got off to a hot start at AAA Durham, but was hurt and out for the season just 15 games in. There's a distinct possibility at this point that the Rays can continue to go with Yunel Escobar as their starter in the Majors given his favorable contract status, which leaves uncertainty regarding Lee. He'll likely be ready to be in the Majors in 2014, at which point the team will likely need to make a decision of whether to play him everyday or move him to acquire a different player the team needs in the future.