*The following list is based solely on future fantasy value projected for each player during the prime years of their career. Defense is not taken into account whatsoever in this list. Comps are based on who a player will profile most comparable to during the prime years of their career in terms of fantasy value. Prospect value is based on a mix of future fantasy value plus how soon they will be contributing to fantasy teams.
1) Xander Bogaerts – The top prospect in the Red Sox organization got his call to the big leagues towards the end of the 2013 season. Bogaerts accumulated 44 AB’s while switching back and forth between SS and 3B to give Stephen Drew and Will Middlebrooks rest. Drew’s contract is up at the end of the season, and the Sox aren’t expected to bring him back in 2014. Replacing Drew next year with Bogaerts seems like the popular move for this organization to make. Xander is not only the top shortstop prospect, but is also one of the top prospects in all of baseball. He has the potential to quickly become one of the top SS options in fantasy leagues. His skill set will be on full display next year at Fenway Park.
Future Fantasy Comp: Troy Tulowitski
2) Carlos Correa – The 1st overall pick of the 2012 MLB draft was also the first player from Puerto Rico to be selected #1 overall in the draft. In 2013, Correa helped lead the Quad City River Bandits to the Midwest League Championship. Along the way, he hit for a .320 BA while showing a nice mix of power and speed. The Astros left their star SS prospect in Class-A all year to develop, but I expect this organization to start to pick up the pace with Correa starting in 2014. Correa could start to take on 2 levels per season, which would put him on pace to arrive towards the end of the 2015 season. If he continues to develop at this rate, the Astros will be counting down the days until they get to see what their shortstop of the future has to offer at the big league level.
Future Fantasy Comp: Hanley Ramirez
3) Javier Baez – The Cub’s top prospect hit 37 HR’s with 111 RBI’s and 20 SB’s in 2013. Baez was moved to AA midway through the 2013 season, where he joined many of the Cub’s other top prospects on the Tennessee Smokies. He continued to rake after his promotion and showed that he will soon be ready to join the majors. Out of everyone on this list, Baez is one of the least likely to remain at shortstop long-term. The Cubs currently have Starlin Castro at SS, so there has been some talk of moving Baez to 3B or OF, and other talk of moving Castro out of town. For fantasy league managers, this bat will play anywhere, and the chance to get the type of production that Baez is capable of from SS makes this prospect very coveted in dynasty leagues.
Future Fantasy Comp: Adrian Beltre
4) Addison Russell – This 19 year-old was the 11th overall pick by the Oakland Athletics in 2012. All Russell did in his first full minor league season was show a nice mix of power and speed, while earning a trip to the Future’s Game and ending the year in AAA. Still months away from his 20th birthday, there are already rumors circulating that we could see Russell in the big leagues sometime during the 2014 season. Although Russell comes in at #4 on this list, he is still one of the top prospects in all of baseball. That just speaks to the talent at this position in the minor leagues right now. This crop of talented shortstop prospects reminds me of the Alex Rodriguez-Derek Jeter-Nomar Garciaparra-Miguel Tejada years. The shortstop position looks to be on the rise once again.
Future Fantasy Comp: Dustin Pedroia
5) Corey Seager – This Los Angeles Dodger was the 3rd shortstop selected in the 2012 MLB draft at #18 overall. Seager had a nice 2013 season and is continuing to improve his prospect stock in the Arizona Fall League. This young prospect has the ability to hit for average and power in the majors. Just like his brother Kyle, Corey is a big infielder listed at 6’4”, and he still might not be done growing. Corey Seager is projected to eventually end up at 3B, but will stay at SS for now. He will likely start the 2014 season in AA, and will still be 19 years-old to begin the year. So far in his young professional career, Seager has accumulated 547 AB’s, .282 BA, 24 HR’s, 105 RBI’s, 89 R’s, and 18 SB’s. If those numbers translate to the big league level, this could be a very useful fantasy option at SS or 3B in just a few years.
Future Fantasy Comp: Aramis Ramirez
Honorable Mention: Francisco Lindor (CLE), Alen Hanson (PIT), Luis Sardinas (TEX), Raul Adalberto Mondesi (KCR),Chris Owings (ARI), Trevor Story (COL).