Scanning over the names on our Top 10 Shortstop list entering the 2008 season, we don't see any guys who really took their stock to the next level. None of them put up performances that make them look like good bets to turn into above-average big league hitters. Had Elvis Andrus improved as a power hitter or Reid Brignac rediscovered his 2006 batting stroke, we would have been hard pressed to put any recent draft pick ahead of them.
Let's briefly go over prospect defense and shortstop draft history:
While we do tip the scales for defensive abilities when evaluating big leaguers, we're not as confident doing so with minor leaguers for two reasons: 1) It's hard to get a good read on how guys who still haven't fully matured into their adult bodies will hold up in terms of speed and agility -- Justin Upton quickly matured off of shortstop, as did Preston Wilson and Chipper Jones. 2) Methods for evaluating defense are still quite raw in the major leagues, let alone the minors. Not having seen many of the prospects below play defense, we'd prefer to put emphasis on offensive ability, the area of their game that we feel most comfortable evaluating.
According to thebaseballcube.com's draft data, 18 shortstops have been selected Top 10 overall since 1989. Not counting Tim Beckham (2008, No. 1 overall pick) and Gordon Beckham (2008, No. 8), eight of them still haven't spent a full season in the big leagues (that's 44.4%). And three of them have never played in the bigs.
While there's certainly a chance that neither Beckham will ever hold down a full-season job, we see their ceilings as justification for ranking them atop this list.
|Top 15 Shortstop Prospects|
|1||Tim Beckham||SS||No. 1 overall pick in June's draft had .287 wOBA in 189 PA; low contact: 21.7% K, .251 AVG||18.7||TB||R|
|2||Gordon Beckham||SS/2B||This Beckham had more success in pro debut: No. 8 pick went .394/.468/.652 in AFL (78 PA)||22.1||CHW||A|
|3||Elvis Andrus||SS||Posted .321 wOBA in 534 AA PA; very little power (.072 IsoP); still, very young for level||20.1||TEX||AA|
|4||Alcides Escobar||SS||Impressive .332/.362/.440 line comes with some red flags; LD up only 2%, but BABIP up 47 pts||21.8||MIL||AA|
|5||Carlos Triunfel||SS/2B/3B||Higher BB, lower K rates in second Cal League season; .322 wOBA was highest as a pro||18.6||SEA||A+|
|6||Wilmer Flores||SS||Went .310/.351/.490 with .356 wOBA in 265 R-ball PA; puts ball in play: 4.5% BB, 10.6% K||17.2||NYM||R|
|7||Ivan De Jesus||SS/2B||Followed .334 wOBA in A+ in '07 with .371 number in AA in '08; not much power (.099 IsoP)||21.5||LAD||AA|
|8||Reid Brignac||SS||Struggled to .303 wOBA in 386 AAA PA; IsoP (.162) down at every level since A+ in '06 (.231)||22.7||TB||AAA|
|9||Esmailyn Gonzalez||SS||After posting .330 wOBA in 1st R-ball tour, improved to .401 in GCL this season; 11.1% BB||19.1||WAS||R|
|10||Marcus Lemon||SS||Went .295/.365/.434 in 515 Cal League PA; BB% down slightly, but K rate down 5.3% to 13.4%||20.4||TEX||A+|
|11||Lonnie Chisenhall||SS||No. 29 pick this June had .344 wOBA in 305 PA; could have been better: 21% LD, .314 BABIP||20.0||CLE||SS|
|12||Todd Frazier||SS/1B||After going .330/.411/.615 in 124 A PA, leveled off in A+: .281/.357/.451, .349 wOBA in 414 PA||21.8||CIN||A+|
|13||Reese Havens||SS||08's No. 22 pick posted .355 wOBA in A- (.226 IsoP); 11.5% BB, but whiffed a ton (28.1%)||22.0||NYM||SS|
|14||Cliff Pennington||SS/2B||Liked AAA (.366 wOBA in 294 PA) more than the bigs (.292 in 117); crazy 18.4% BB in AAA||24.3||OAK||MLB|
|15||Jason Donald||SS||U.S. Olympian showed consistency: followed .381 wOBA in A+ in '07 with .384 in AA in '08||24.1||PHI||AAA|
|Honorables: Casey Kelly (BOS), Pete Kozma (STL), Brandon Hicks (ATL), Hector Gomez (COL), and Chris Valaika (CIN).|
|* Our rankings combine a player's ceiling with the odds that he'll reach it and favor recent production|
|** Ages are as of November 1st, 2008|
|*** Level is the highest level the player has reached|
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Questions about this list can be directed toward Adam Foster at firstname.lastname@example.org.