This is a great overview of where the league's future SS talent is coming from. Bumping to the front page and adding a jump for presentation purposes. - ed.
After the Rays added Hak-Ju Lee from Chicago in the Garza trade, some evaluators brought up the organization's new depth at the shortstop position. With Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez in the majors, Tim Beckham in Double-A, Lee in High Single-A and Derek Dietrich at Low Single-A, the Rays do have a nice group of players filling in the position for them throughout the organization.
Realistically, Lee is the only one of those prospects that projects as an average-or-better defender at the position, so that depth may be overblown on some levels. But it did get me wondering which teams have the most impressive cache of young talent at one of the league's weaker positions. I put guys that I consider to be B-grade prospects or higher in italics.
Atlanta: Mychal Jones (AA), Edward Salcedo (A), Matt Lipka (TBA), Andrelton Simmons (TBA)
Houston: Tommy Manzella (AAA), Jonathan Villar (AA), Jiovanni Mier (A+)
Tampa Bay: Tim Beckham (AA), Hak-Ju Lee (A+), Derek Dietrich (A), Hector Guevara (SS)
Baltimore: Mychal Givens (A+), Manny Machado (A), Connor Narron (TBA), Jonathan Schoop (TBA)
Kansas City: Rey Navarro (AA), Jeff Bianchi (AA), Christian Colon (A+)
Texas: Jurickson Profar (A), Leury Garcia (A), Luis Sardinas (TBA)
- My favorite groupings are probably Baltimore, Boston, Texas and Atlanta. Love Machado like everyone else, and the other guys are intriguing even if each of them has some sort of question regarding their bat or glove. I have a hard time seeing Iglesias totally disappoint, and I think it's worth keeping an eye on the Bogaerts/Cecchini/Coyle trio going forward. Texas' young shortstops have been getting a lot of attention of late, with the rise of Elvis Andrus in Arlington and the emergence of Profar as one of the better shortstop prospects in the game. Sardinas doesn't get a ton of attention because of the latter two, but he's still got some serious potential. As for Atlanta, they don't have that elite guy but I really like the depth. Jones likely won't be more than a utility infielder in the majors, but Salcedo, Lipka and Simmons all have huge potential even if Simmons is the only one that's particularly likely to stick at the position.
- The Mariners went into last season with two top shortstop prospects in Triunfel and Noriega. Now, though, I wouldn't be surprised if people preferred Franklin and Littlewood or Peguero.
- Landing two top shortstop prospects is really, really hard. The Cubs had quite the situation with Castro, Lee, Junior Lake and Darwin Barney, but now it's Tampa that's more loaded with Brignac, Lee and Beckham. Every team that has a B-grade or better prospect at shortstop only has one of them. Reds have Hamilton, but guys like Rojas and Gregorius aren't close to him. Astros have an interesting combo with Villar and Mier, but they're both depending on strong 2011 campaigns to retain top prospect status. Some people are still optimistic on Beckham, but Lee's clearly the top shortstop prospect in that system now. Machado, Colon, Franklin and Profar are lightyears ahead of their positional counterparts in their respective organizations. So next time you see a team with multiple elite shortstop prospects, be aware that it's an extremely rare situation.