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Positional Prospect Ranks For Points Leagues: Shortstop
Zac Beck's Prospect Positional Rankings for Dynasty Points Leagues
If you missed Beck’s other positional rankings, check them out here:
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Elly De La Cruz, Cincinnati Reds, 21, - 6’5, 200 lbs
‘22: 513 PA, .304/.359/.586/.945, 28 HR, 47 SB, 30.8% K, 7.8% BB (A+, AA)
One of the core tenets of my evaluation process is paying keen attention to plate approach and contact ability. The ability to limit strikeouts is tantamount to production in points formats – they are the most prominent avenue for erosion of value.
Elly De La Cruz totally breaks the rules. He carried a K% greater than 30% at A ball, again at High-A, and yet again at Double-A, all while being one of the most productive players in minor league baseball. The remainder of his tools are so loud that it’s hard to hear criticism of his approach and contact ability. There were reports out of instructs last fall that he posted a 117 mph max exit velocity. He swiped 47 bags 53 attempts this year.
If he’s able to transcend one of the brightest red flags we’re taught to look for, he has the frame, athleticism, and track record to be the best player in baseball.
Jordan Lawlar, Arizona Diamondbacks, 20 - 6’2, 190 lbs
‘22: 459 PA, .303/.401/.509/.910, 16 HR, 39 SB, 25.1% K, 12.4% BB (A, A+, AA)
Lawlar was the 6th overall selection in the 2021 draft, lauded as an all-around talent with the potential for five tool production at the big league level. He missed time in his professional debut due to a shoulder injury after just six plate appearances but returned in 2022 to dispel any neuroticism Diamondbacks’ fans may have had about the absence. He looked dominant for a stretch at the AFL before suffering another shoulder injury, this one a freak bone break caused by a hit-by-pitch. The injury did not require surgery and he’ll be ready for spring training.
He slashed .303/.401/.509 across 3 levels (A, A+, AA) as a 19 year old. He demonstrates lightning-quick hands, patience, and the ability to hit to all fields. There are some ‘watch outs’ in his profile – his average EV isn’t stellar and his production fell off as he progressed throughout the year. He produced a 65 wRC+ in 20 games at AA.
Anthony Volpe, New York Yankees, 21 - 5’11, 180 lbs
‘22: 596 PA, .249/.342/.460/.802, 21 HR, 50 SB, 19.8% K, 10.9% BB (AA, AAA)
On this edition of Did You Know That? I Did Not Know That: Anthony Volpe was the only player in minor league baseball to finish the year with 20+ home runs and 50+ stolen bases. Sure, it’s a fairly arbitrary qualification. Don’t confuse arbitrary with irrelevant.
A slow start in ‘22 obscures what was a very strong campaign in a rather pedestrian slash line on first glance. In his final 72 games at Double-A Somerset, he clobbered 13 home runs en route to a .910 OPS and a promotion to Triple-A Scranton.
He displays a plus plate approach and excellent pitch selection that should serve him well in Yankees lineups that generate a lot of offense.
Jackson Holliday, Baltimore Orioles, 19 - 6’1, 175 lbs
‘22: 90 PA, .297/.489/.422/.911, 1 HR, 4 SB, 13.3% K, 27.8% BB (Rk, A)
There’s been a lot of discourse about who the number one option is at the top of 2023 FYPDs. I am firmly in the Druw Jones camp but there are some convincing arguments for Holliday, particularly in points formats. Scouts and outlets that cover the draft raved about his ability to make consistent hard contact, manage plate appearances with maturity, and eventually unlock offensive juice via exceptional rotational athleticism.
Jackson is the progeny of Matt Holliday but they have very different approaches to the game. His dad was a hulking slugger (baseball reference doesn’t have his nickname listed as ‘Big Daddy’ for nothin’) who recorded nearly 7,000 plate appearances at the 3 and 4 spots in the order. The younger Holliday figures to be a mainstay atop the lineup by way of his advanced bat-to-ball ability.
He had one of the most dominant springs of a high school ballplayer ever, breaking JT Realmuto’s record for hits. He’s a top 20 overall dynasty prospect.
Marcelo Mayer, Boston Red Sox, 20 - 6’3, 188 lbs
‘22: 424 PA, .280/.399/.489/.887, 13 HR, 17 SB, 25.2% K, 16.0% BB (A, A+)
For better or for worse, Marcelo Mayer and Jordan Lawlar will be forever linked as the top two prep shortstops in the 2021 draft class. Boston took Mayer two spots ahead of Lawlar with their earliest draft selection since 1967.
Mayer features a left-handed swing that scouts drool over. He has impressive pitch recognition and decision-making skills for his age, and he maximizes contact quality with superb bat-to-ball ability. He carried a hard hit rate of 36% in 434 plate appearances this year while striking out 25.2% of the time and walking 16.0%. There’s hope for plus power as he fills out his 6’3 frame.
Mayer doesn’t have quite the same upside as Lawlar (in my opinion), but may have a higher floor driven by a comparatively mature approach and superior contact skills.
Ezequiel Tovar, Colorado Rockies, 21 - 6’0, 162 lbs
‘22: 318 PA, .319/.387/.540/.927, 14 HR, 17 SB, 20.8% K, 8.5% BB (AA, AAA)
I had the opportunity to get live looks at Tovar during the 2021 Arizona Fall League, and frankly I came away relatively unimpressed. Sometimes your eyes deceive you. Tovar proved prospects can change. There’s never been any question about the glove; he was likely ready to play a superb shortstop at the MLB level far before the bat came along. What changed this year, and what fantasy prospectors are primarily interested in, is the impact potential of the bat.
Tovar significantly improved his pitch recognition year-over-year, reducing some of the chase on low-and-away spin that plagued him in 2021 and the fall. He’ll benefit from playing half of his games in Coors, where his burgeoning power should play up.
I’m not as high on Tovar as others are. I’d sell if I could get any of the players ahead of him in a 1:1 swap.
Royce Lewis, Minnesota Twins, 23 - 6’2, 200 lbs
‘22: 153 PA, .313/.405/.534/.940, 5 HR, 12 SB, 20.9% K, 11.8% BB (AAA)
The man can’t catch a break. Perhaps he’s catching too many breaks? Since being selected #1 overall by Minnesota in 2017, he’s evidently subscribed to the Byron Buxton school of health and wellness. If you don’t laugh you’ll cry, you know?
Lewis would likely be inside the top 3 among shortstops had I constructed this list in early June of last year. He was in the midst of perhaps the most electrifying rookie debut of the season when he suffered his second ACL tear in as many years. He’s long been one of my favorite prospects and I hope he’s able to help the Twins soon whether that’s with spikes in the dirt or the outfield grass.
Royce Lewis has top-10 prospect talent and impact potential. He also has a significant injury history. If you can stomach the risk, buying today could prove prudent.
Jackson Merrill, San Diego Padres, 19 - 6’3, 195 lbs
‘22: 250 PA, .339/.395/.511/.906, 6 HR, 11 SB, 17.6% K, 8.0% BB (Rk, A)
A really interesting article authored by Tieran Alexander dropped on Prospects Live in late October titled “Is Jackson Merrill the #1 Prospect in Baseball?”. The answer is obviously no, evidenced by his ranking here and among other publications, but the piece dives into just how attractive Merrill’s batted ball data is.
In sum, Merrill hits everything. He has elite contact rates on all pitch types, in and out of the zone. His hard hit rate is excellent… on ground balls. It’s mediocre when he puts the ball in the air (57th percentile).
He’s simply not hitting the ball in the air enough (59% GB% this year) and Tieran posits that it may take a full swing change to make the adjustment. Merrill is young, showed up this year with markedly improved physicality, and is producing excellent on-base numbers. For him to make a big jump he’ll have to start elevating the ball with authority regularly.
Oswald Peraza, New York Yankees, 22 - 6’0, 200 lbs
‘22: 429 PA, .259/.329/.448/.778, 19 HR, 33 SB, 23.3% K, 7.9% BB (AAA)
I traded away Oswald Peraza in a dynasty league as part of a large package for Matt Olson before the 2022 season started. I started getting nervous about giving up Peraza when he debuted on September 2nd and proceeded to produce a .306/.404/.429 line over 18 games. Absolute peak for Peraza looks like ~25 homers and ~30 stolen bases with a ~.270-.280 average.
He makes a ton of contact in the zone and has good but not great exit velocities. I like him to stick at shortstop for the Yankees. That can do wonders for your fantasy value.
Colson Montgomery, Chicago White Sox, 20 - 6’4, 205 lbs
‘22: 421 PA, .274/.381/.429/.810, 11 HR, 1 SB, 19.7% K, 12.8% BB (A, A+, AA)
If you’re a passive baseball consumer and you’ve heard anything about Colson Montgomery, it’s probably been the ad-nauseum Cory Seager comps. Both are oversized shortstops that hit lefty, and I think the comp is actually pretty accurate even in the absence of physical similarities.
Montgomery was clearly too advanced for Low-A, where he posted a .324/.424/.476 line with 4 homers in 45 games, and eventually ended the year in Double-A as part of Chicago’s Project Birmingham. Advanced zone recognition is probably the most impressive tool in his belt, but we could see power come along as he continues to add muscle and generate torque with his long levers.
It’s possible he has to move off the position if he continues growing. He projects to be a ~25 homer, ~.360 OBP type bat at the big league level if everything clicks. He’s a firm buy in points formats.
Noelvi Marte, Cincinnati Reds, 21 - 6’1, 181 lbs
‘22: 520 PA, .279/.371/.458/.829, 19 HR, 23 SB, 20.6% K, 11.3% BB (A+)
Once a consensus top-20 prospect (top-10 depending on who you ask), Marte’s stock took a hit this year largely over concerns about his physique and ability to stick as an up-the-middle defender. After seeing him live in the Arizona Fall League I think those concerns are overblown.
I should clarify – I think it’s likely he’ll move off the shortstop position. He shouldn’t be penalized for that. Sure, a move to third would ostensibly put more pressure on the bat, but in terms of positional scarcity it may be a boon to his fantasy value.
Expectations were very, very high for him this year and they made 2022 feel like a relative step back. In actuality, it was a lot of the same with a few minor improvements mixed in. He walked about the same rate, but struck out 10 fewer times in 4 more at-bats. He stole nearly an identical number of bases and hit two more home runs. You can read into the fact that he hasn’t been pushed quickly if you want, but I think part of it has to do with being traded at mid-season. I’m not out on Noelvi and I don’t think you should be either.
Marco Luciano, San Francisco Giants, 21 - 6’2, 178 lbs
‘22: 257 PA, .269/.350/.467/.817, 11 HR, 0 SB, 22.6% K, 10.1% BB (Rk, A+)
Luciano was a top international signing in 2018 ($2.6 million signing bonus) and immediately scorched rookie ball in 2019 to the tune of .322/.438/.616 with 10 homers in 146 ABs.
He’d have to wait until 2021 to put his tools on display in full-season competition. He fared well as a 19-year-old against much older competition, but has yet to return to the form that made him an elite fantasy prospect or progress beyond High-A. I still like the bat with potential for plus game power and average contact.
His underlying numbers in 2022 were… Just OK. His hard hit rate is why I might be lower on him than other outlets – at just 14.3% this season, that puts him at 864th among all players with at least 100 plate appearances. He’s in the company of players like Yasel Antuna, Hao Yu Lee, and Cornelius Randolph (a real player I was unaware existed but nevertheless I enjoy his name quite a bit). Part of this can be attributed to a back injury that limited him to just 57 games.
Junior Caminero, Tampa Bay Rays, 19 - 5’11, 157 lbs
‘22: 271 PA, .314/.384/.498/.882, 11 HR, 12 SB, 15.9% K, 8.5% BB (Rk, A)
Notably absent from my December iteration of the top 100, Caminero has been a big riser as I’ve had the opportunity to review the totality of his 2022 campaign.
He boasts excellent exit velocities for his age (107 mph 90th percentile and almost 90 mph average) and pairs it with well above average contact. He’s more filled out than his listed weight but there remains room for body projection and peak outcomes indicate a 25+ home run bat with impressive plate discipline.
Caminero will have to be added to the 40-man roster at season’s end. It’s possible he moves quickly based on performance and out of necessity, so while he’s just 19 at the time of writing, he stands to have a quicker path to productivity at the MLB level if everything falls into place.
Zach Neto, Los Angeles Angels, 22 - 6’0, 185 lbs
‘22: 167 PA, .299/.377/.476/.853, 5 HR, 5 SB, 19.8% K, 7.2% BB (A+, AA)
The first first-round pick in Campbell school history, Neto is one of my favorite targets in FYPDs this year. His professional debut was very encouraging – some folks were not sold on his performance as Big South Conference Player of the Year – and he projects to have average or better tools across the board.
He features a large leg kick from the right side that tones down with two strikes, maximizing his potential for impact early in counts and minimizing strikeout concerns to the extent that he can. He managed a 78% contact rate this year largely driven by extraordinary hand-eye coordination.
In a very small sample at Double-A (30 games / 136 PA) he slashed .320/.382/.492 with 4 homers and a 21.1 K%. There is 20/20 potential here (not that you care about the stolen bases, but c’mon man – they aren’t worth nothin’).
Brooks Lee, Minnesota Twins, 22 - 6’2, 205 lbs
‘22: 139 PA, .303/.389/.451/.839, 4 HR, 0 SB, 14.4% K, 11.5% BB (Rk, A+, AA)
Lee is a polished college hitter with few holes from either side of the plate. He boasts tremendous contact ability, limits strikeouts well, and barrels the ball consistently. He could one day have plus game power… but nothing is guaranteed. It’s almost always a better bet that an elite contact/approach guy will be able to add power than a power bat adding contact ability.
That said, I worry about the impact. His profile plays up in points formats, but I think he’s likely a better real-life asset than he is for fantasy.
Adael Amador, Colorado Rockies, 19 - 6’0, 160 lbs
‘22: 555 PA, .292/.415/.445/.860, 15 HR, 26 SB, 12.1% K, 15.7% BB (A)
I am guilty of the heinous crime of sleeping on Adael Amador. You seeing what I’m seeing? He rarely strikes out and commands the zone with exceptional proficiency. Special bat-to-ball skill affords him a solid foundation upon which to build more traditional fantasy tools like slug.
He is predominantly a ground ball and line drive hitter today but showed signs of loft as the year progressed. He’s much bulkier than his listed weight now and could round into average power at the position.
As a switch hitter, he demonstrates more consistency from the right side against left-handed pitching but more power against righties. As is the case with most switch hitters, Amador will have to exhibit proficiency from both sides of the plate to progress quickly.
Jordan Westburg, Baltimore Orioles, 24 - 6’3, 203 lbs
‘22: 622 PA, .265/.355/.496/.852, 27 HR, 12 SB, 23.6% K, 11.3% BB (AA, AAA)
Westburg made big strides offensively in 2022, reducing his HR/PA from 34 to 23 year-over-year while simultaneously reducing his K-rate from 25.1% to 23.6% against better competition. There is optimism that he could produce 20+ home runs annually at the big league level.
There was concern about Westburg’s contact ability and swing decisions coming into his professional career but he’s largely quieted the latter over the last few years. A little swing and miss remains and should be monitored, but his compact swing and considerable bat speed help mute the ill effects of whiff.
It’s hard to stand out in a system that features Gunnar Henderson, Grayson Rodriguez, Colton Cowser, Jackson Holliday, and Coby Mayo. Westburg is unfairly overlooked as a result and likely available for a lower price than his profile demands.
Masyn Winn, St. Louis Cardinals, 20 - 5’11, 180 lbs
‘22: 550 PA, .283/.364/.468/.832, 12 HR, 43 SB, 20.9% K, 11.5% BB (A+, AA)
He used to pitch. You know he used to pitch? He definitely used to pitch.
Winn drew a lot of attention when he lit up the radar gun with a 100.5 mph throw across the diamond in the Futures game, but he’s more than an elite arm. The Cardinals decided to have Winn focus solely on hitting and that decision has paid off in spades.
Across 119 games in High-A and Double-A, Winn appeared to be a blur on the basepaths swiping 43 bags in 48 attempts. He added 11 home runs at Double-A. The power output will determine his future, and right now whether he’ll develop in that department is a little in the air (pun intended). His home runs come almost exclusively to the pull side based on the film I was able to find and his hard hit rate leaves something to be desired.
His speed and defensive prowess give him a relatively high floor and he has exceptional value in rotisserie where he figures to run up a big tally in the stolen base column, but he’s yet to demonstrate impact with the bat that portends fantasy stardom in points formats. I think the hype has exceeded his value.
Edwin Arroyo, Cincinnati Reds, 19 - 6’0, 175 lbs
‘22: 528 PA, .293/.366/.480/.845, 14 HR, 27 SB, 23.3% K, 8.7% BB (Rk, A)
Arroyo was a second round selection by the Mariners in 2021 and was in the midst of a breakout when he was dealt to the Reds as a package for Luis Castillo.
Unfortunately for Edwin, he finds himself in a system loaded with talent on the left side of the infield. Fortunately for Cincinnati, acquiring Marte and Arroyo mid-season really bolstered what had previously been a middling-at-best farm system.
Arroyo oozes athleticism. When signed out of high school, he was a switch-hitting and switch-pitching prospect. He’s since planted the left hand firmly in an infielder’s glove but remains equally impressive from both sides of the plate. His peak exit velos are in the 106 - 108 mph range, which are solid but unspectacular for a 19 year old.
It’s a risky profile. Teams in contention should consider offloading.
Brady House, Washington Nationals, 19 - 6’4, 215 lbs
‘22: 203 PA, .278/.356/.375/.731, 3 HR, 1 SB, 29.1% K, 5.9% BB (A)
Some folks may have forgotten that House had his time in the sun as the projected #1 overall selection in the 2021 draft. Unexpected whiff concerns caused him to tumble to the Nationals at 11. He hit the ground running in his debut, slashing .322/.394/.576 in 16 games in the FCL.
This year wasn’t as smooth. He struggled as the whiff ballooned again and led to a nearly untenable 29.1% K rate. The power dried up, too, with just 3 homers in 203 PA (versus 4 in 66 at the complex). Some of his regression may be explained away by a back injury that ended his season.
I really liked House as a draft prospect and I largely buy the pedigree. An absolute ceiling outcome is Austin Riley-lite – huge power with more swing and miss than Riley demonstrates. I don’t see him sticking at shortstop and believe a move to a corner is likely.
Brayan Rocchio, Cleveland Guardians, 22 - 5’10, 170 lbs
‘22: 584 PA, .257/.336/.420/.755, 18 HR, 14 SB, 20.0% K, 10.6% BB (AA, AAA)
Cleveland is teeming with contact-first, sure-handed middle infielders. Rocchio is the most promising in the system right now.
He’s been young for the level everywhere he’s played and he’s done well to add muscle to a frame that was slim at signing. He doesn’t strike out much, but he also doesn’t have a strong track record of patience at the dish, walking just 6.4% at Double-A in 2021.
As a switch hitter, Rocchio is considerably better against right-handed pitching. He may be better served foregoing hitting from the right side altogether; finding consistency against pitchers of both handedness should be a priority in his development.
Luisangel Acuña, Texas Rangers, 20 - 5’10, 181 lbs
‘22: 409 PA, .277/.369/.426/.795, 11 HR, 40 SB, 23.5% K, 12.5% BB (A+, AA)
Ronald’s brother looked great in the AFL (even if the numbers didn’t necessarily follow) and it appears he could have a very promising MLB career.. He should mature into average power while maintaining solid batting averages and playing a very smooth shortstop.
Texas is a little crowded in the near term but it’ll be a little while before we see Luisangel in Arlington, so no need to think that far ahead. He’s a good buy if the team rostering him in your league is taking AFL and 2022 numbers too seriously.
Jett Williams, New York Mets, 19 - 5’8, 165 lbs
‘22: 41 PA, .250/.366/.438/.803, 1 HR, 6 SB, 14.6% K, 9.8% BB (Rk)
Alright, alright. I got schooled a little bit after putting out my FYPD ranks and I’ve seen the light on Jett Williams. I was initially concerned about his ability to get to impact power but it’s apparent that Williams’ profile plays excellently in points formats.
Cole Young, Seattle Mariners, 19 - 6’0, 180 lbs
‘22: 71 PA, .367/.423/.517/.939, 2 HR, 4 SB, 11.3% K, 11.3% BB (Rk, A)
I’m a toolaholic. I’m inebriated by Stantonian home run power and Turner-esque speed. It can impair my vision and cause me to underestimate players who produce without pomp and circumstance; those who put their heads down and churn out respectable fantasy seasons. Cole Young is one of those players – but what he lacks in raw tools he makes up for in technical baseball skill.
He possesses one of the most advanced hit tools of the prep class and projects to be a high floor, moderate ceiling middle infielder.
Yiddi Cappe, Miami Marlins, 20 - 6’3, 175 lbs
‘22: 299 PA, .290/.328/.438/.766, 9 HR, 13 SB, 19.6% K, 10.8% BB (AAA)
Cappe is a long way from the big leagues, but flashed a lot of encouraging tools at the complex this year. He’s a hit over power, speed-first prospect right now with the potential and frame for plus power in the future. If you’re in win-now mode, I’d consider shopping him around. If you’re rebuilding, he’s a lottery ticket worth investing in.
Joey Ortiz, Baltimore Orioles, 24 - 5’11, 175 lbs
‘22: 600 PA, .284/.349/.477/.826, 19 HR, 8 SB, 16.3% K, 8.3% BB (AA, AAA)
Last season represented a breakout campaign for Ortiz. Originally drafted in the fourth round on the back of his exceptional defensive abilities, he made big strides in unlocking power by swatting 19 home runs over 600 plate appearances. He reduced his HR/PA from 44 in 2021 to 32 in 2022 even while his FB% and HR/FB% both declined, signaling that his contact quality improved significantly.
He doesn’t project to produce at the big league level with the same success, but he’s good enough to hold his own and be a serviceable piece with eligibility across several positions on the infield dirt.
Brice Turang, Milwaukee Brewers, 23 - 6’0, 173 lbs
‘22: 603 PA, .286/.360/.412/.772, 13 HR, 34 SB, 24.6% K, 4.7% BB (AA)
When Milwaukee traded away Kolten Wong to Seattle they made it very clear that the second base job would be up for grabs. It’s very likely we see Turang, the Brewers’ first round selection in 2018, make his debut early in the year and perhaps not leave the active big league roster.
Turang’s leading tool on the offensive side of the ball is his plate discipline. He’s consistently run above average to well above average walk rates and refuses to chase outside of the zone. He’s firmly hit over power and had never eclipsed a .400 slugging percentage prior to 2022 at AAA, a benchmark he met in a fashion reminiscent of me trying to complete a third pull-up – just barely.
Ronny Mauricio, New York Mets, 21 - 6’3, 222 lbs
‘22: 541 PA, .259/.296/.472/.767, 26 HR, 20 SB, 24.6% K, 4.7% BB (AA)
Signed out of the Dominican Republic for $2.1 million in 2017, Mauricio has been on the prospect radar for over half a decade. He’s been a work in progress, making incremental improvements throughout his minor league career primarily in the power department. He managed to decrease his groundball rate to a manageable 43.8% in 2022 en route to a 20/20 campaign.
The big, big flag in the profile is his approach. He has consistently exhibited poor swing decisions that make his profile extraordinarily volatile.
Carson Williams, Tampa Bay Rays, 19 - 6’2, 180 lbs
‘22: 523 PA, .252/.347/.471/.818, 19 HR, 28 SB, 32.1% K, 10.9% BB (A)
Williams is a very popular low-level prospect in the industry – so much so that Eric Longenhagen placed him 56th in his top 100 that was released today. I see it a little differently and believe the K rate against A-ball pitching is a huge flag. That’s not to disparage the tools – his power and speed are special – but they’re something of a moot point if he’s bleeding value via the K.
His profile could explode if he reins in the strikeout issues, but I view them as untenable in points formats for the moment. He’s a lottery ticket that has already accumulated hype as though he’s guaranteed to cash.
Angel Martinez, Cleveland Guardians, 21 - 6’0, 186 lbs
‘22: 434 PA, .278/.378/.471/.849, 13 HR, 12 SB, 17.5% K, 12.0% BB (A)
Martinez is not much unlike any other Guardians infield prospect in that he does everything pretty well. He has modest power and modest speed, but makes solid contact and controls the zone well.