Shortstop is loaded with high-impact fantasy prospects, so let’s discuss the merits of each of the top commodities, and put a ranking on the position. Once the dust settles, feel free to duke it out in the comments on who you feel should top the list.
[Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]
Xander Bogaerts, BOS: He was the first of the crop to debut in the majors, and is slated to be Boston's opening day shortstop this season. Bogaerts has impressive bat speed and plate discipline, skills which should make him a high average hitter in his prime. His power continues to develop, but 25-30 homer potential makes him a future middle of the order threat. Speed isn’t a huge part of his game, the only fantasy knock on him.
Javier Baez, CHC: Another huge power bat, Baez possesses plus bat speed and an aggressive approach at the plate. He attacks the ball with rage when he swings. If all breaks right, 30 homers per year is the floor for this young slugger. After 37 long balls in the minors last season, the sky is the limit in ’14. Add in a little bit of speed, and you have one of the most exciting fantasy assets in the minors.
Carlos Correa, HOU: Although furthest away from the majors, his offensive ceiling rivals that of Bogaerts and Baez. Correa may have the best plate discipline of all the young shortstops, a skill that should lead to high averages and on-base totals in the majors. While his power isn’t light tower, he should develop into a 20-plus homer threat in his prime. Much like Bogaerts, he isn’t much of a threat on the bases, but is athletic enough to reach double digits.
Francisco Lindor, CLE: I discussed Lindor last week, and am admittedly not as high on him from a fantasy perspective as many dynasty players. He has the tools to be a high average and on-base player, making him an ideal top of the order hitter. From a power standpoint, he may never develop into more than a 15-homer threat, and that’s mostly projection. His speed is above average, though, with 20-25 steals annually within reach.
Addison Russell, OAK: One of the most complete players in the minors, Russell is on the fast track to Oakland. There aren’t really any holes in his game, either offensively or defensively. Russell has tremendous plate coverage and discipline, along with above-average power, that should allow him to hit .280 with 15-20 homers annually. The X-factor to his game is speed, a skill that may allow him to collect 20-25 steals to go with his power. Russell may be the most balanced offensive talent of the entire group.
My Fantasy Rankings
1. Javier Baez
2. Xander Bogaerts
3. Addison Russell
4. Carlos Correa
5. Francisco Lindor
With power becoming more and more scarce across the league, I’m putting a premium on that skill, which is why Baez gets the nod here. Bogaerts isn’t far behind, but there is something special about a shortstop who may challenge the 40-homer mark. I love the offensive balance Russell brings, he’s a player that should fill the stat sheet and help fantasy teams across the board. The scouting reports are great on Correa, but I couldn’t rank him over Russell due to the more complete body of work the young A’s shortstop has already posted. Lindor rounds out my list, and has plenty of potential to be a productive fantasy player, just not as much as the others.
Rob Steingall is a syndicated fantasy analyst. Follow him on Twitter @rsteingall