Sean Smith deserves a medal (or better yet, a donation to his site). With his help and the help of Jeff Sackmann, we now have TotalZone stats for the minor leaguers which can be found at position players' pages at Minor League Splits. For a full explanation on how useful/reliable these stats are, you can go here. I'll stick with the practicalities and take a look the top prospects at their position in order to see who shines and who might need a position switch. We'll start with shortstop.
Charted below are the top shortstop prospects in the minors, as ranked by BA. Well, it sort of is. I threw out the players with small sample sizes, which basically means no 2008 draft picks. In their place I stuck Ramiro Pena, Yankee Shortstop of the Future (TM)! and Carlos Triunfel, who they consider a second baseman now (for good reason).
- Scouts predict a gold glove in Escobar's future, and the stats agree. He rated rather poorly in '06 (-13), was better in '07 (-4) and developed into a human vacuum cleaner in '08.
- Like Escobar, Elvis Andrus also has a terrific defensive reputation, but the numbers aren't quite there yet. The Rangers think highly enough of his defense to give him a big league job and push their um, ahem...gold glove shortstop to 3B.
- Jason Donald is not a shortstop by any stretch of the imagination. The Phillies know it, as he received looks at second and third during the Arizona Fall League. There is some guy at second base named Chase Utley that I hear is pretty good, so third might be the right place for Donald, but his bat doesn't profile quite as well there.
- The 2009 Baseball America Prospect Handbook says Brignac "made impressive strides with his defense the past two years", which I guess means he cut down on making errors, because he's been a steady defender for a while now -- He's +33 over four seasons in the minors.
- Pete Kozma, a first round pick in 2007, has few fans in Cardinal Nation, mostly because his name is not Rick Porcello. The scouting reports read that Kozma had no standout tool, but I would say his glove has become that tool.
- Brent Lillibridge was part of the Javier Vasquez deal and is the favorite for the utility infielder job for the White Sox. After a stellar showing in 2006, his skills have evaporated, both at the plate and in the field.
- For some weird reason Ramiro Pena has become the darling boy of the New York media, who seem ready to anoint him as the next Yankee shortstop. He is a good defender, with Runs/150 of 21, 15 and 2 the past three seasons, but he hit for a career high .312 wOBA repeating AA last season. Jeter most assuredly should be moved to another postition, but for this guy?
- Pretty brutal year from Truinfel. Some say he's a natural shortstop. Maybe he just looks the part, I don't know. As with Donald, Triunfel played third and second in the AFL. Unlike Donald, he has plenty of time to learn his position. It's pretty amazing to think of an 18-year old playing in the AFL.