This week is my final prospects rankings. The past three weeks I’ve covered first basemen, second basemen, and third basemen. We’ve seen plenty of prospects that are going to make solid fantasy impacts, and this final week I will be dissecting the shortstop position. This position covets numerous fantasy assets, and a few will look to aid your fantasy lineups in 2019. Without further ado, I bring you the final installment of Minor League Maestros in “That’s Amore!” Minor League Maestros: Shortstops 2019.
Fernando Tatis Jr. – San Diego Padres
Minors: .286/.355/.507/16 HR/43 RBI/16 SB
After Vladimir Guerrero Jr., there’s no other sought after prospect like Fernando Tatis Jr. Acquired in the deal that sent James Shields to the White Sox, the shortstop has done nothing but produce in the minor leagues. He’s put together a solid minor league resume that has seen him slash .280/.358/.487 with 42 home runs and 143 RBI through three seasons. While there’s no doubt in my mind Guerrero Jr. will end up with more home runs in his rookie season, I can easily see Tatis Jr. besting Guerrero Jr. in RBI. Tatis Jr. will be playing with a better team, and more at-bats will see him coming up with runners in scoring position. In Tatis Jr., the Padres get a solid hitter with plus bat speed, and some of the best raw power in the minors. While I see Tatis Jr. spending the start of the 2019 season in the minors, there’s no doubt in my mind he gets called up as soon as the control deadline passes. He’s already off to a hot start this spring slashing .357/.438/.857 with two home runs and three runs batted in through 14 at-bats. Should Tatis Jr. be targeted in this year’s redrafts? Absolutely! He’s going to get called up early into the season, and there’s still a long shot he breaks Spring Training with the Major League club. With the signing of Manny Machado, the Padres are looking to compete this season. I can see Tatis Jr. targeted in the middle rounds of drafts, with eager owners looking to grab him earlier than that. There’s no doubt in my mind he’s going to produce, and the main question is how early are you willing to grab the future superstar?
Brendan Rodgers – Colorado Rockies
Minors: .268/.330/.460/17 HR/67 RBI/12 SB
What isn’t there to like about the 2015 third overall pick? He’s put together a minor league slashline of .291/.346/.491 with 57 HR and 224 RBI. He’s hit 17 home runs, or better, in each of his first three full minor league seasons, and we saw an uptick in stolen bases in 2019. Factor in he will be playing his home games in Denver, and we have one of the top minor league targets throughout MLB. The question remains to be seen where he will play when called to Colorado. Trevor Story has locked down the shortstop position admirably, and the Rockies locked up third baseman Nolan Arenado for the foreseeable future. Garrett Hampson looks to be the early favorite to win the starting second base job, and early reports suggest Rodgers will begin the 2019 season at AAA-Albuquerque. Barring an injury, or slow start from Hampson, it could be a little into the 2019 season until we see Rodgers make his much anticipated arrival with the Rockies. While Rodgers has neither the traditional quickness nor range of prototypical shortstops, he does possess a phenomenal arm. Again, with Arenado locked up for the future, I see Rodgers playing second should he reach the Majors with the Rockies. Offensively, Rodgers is a force. I project him to hit around .280-.300 annually with potential for 30-35 home runs. Due to playing time questions, it’s hard to suggest drafting Rodgers anywhere before the last few rounds in redraft leagues. Still, once he’s called up, there would have to be everyday at-bats, and this is when you want Rodgers on your roster.
Royce Lewis – Minnesota Twins
Minors: .292/.352/.451/14 HR/74 RBI/28 SB
The 2017 number one overall pick was better than advertised in his first season in the minors. Lewis quickly made himself a household name slashing .292/.352/.451 with 14 home runs and 74 RBI. Add in 28 stolen bases and you have yourself one solid prospect. I’ve seen numerous rankings having Lewis as the number two shortstop prospect. It’s hard to argue he doesn’t belong there, but I love what we’ve seen from Rodgers through the past few years in the minors. After this season, there’s no doubt in my mind Lewis will overtake the number one spot of all shortstops. Offensively, he’s ahead of his peers with his ability to square balls to all part of the field. Add in his phenomenal speed, and he’s on pace to be a perennial All-Star at the Major League level. Defensively, he possesses all the necessary range. While his arm is right around average, he should be able to play the position at the Majors. Still, he has all the tools to make a great centerfielder should the Twins elect to move him there. While we are a few short seasons away from Lewis’ arrival in Minnesota, he has all the makings of becoming a super star.
Bo Bichette – Toronto Blue Jays
Minors: .286/.343/.453/11 HR/74 RBI/32 SB
At 20, and a Blue Jays team that isn’t going to compete in 2019, there’s no real need to rush Bichette to the Majors. However, if he does get a call in 2019, the potential is there for game-changing fantasy ability. His bat speed, and great torque, allows him to drive the ball to all parts of the field. He already has a minor league home run derby championship under his belt, and his bat projects as nice source of power at the Major League level. While he doesn’t possess the speed as some of his peers, he does get solid reads off pitchers. Triple-A will be a nice indication of how he will react to Major League pitching. While I don’t see him playing shortstop for the long haul in the Majors, he does possess the ability to be a standout second baseman. At the floor, we can see him as an All-Star left fielder. While the Blue Jays are still years away from competing in the American League East, they have bright pieces in Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. He’s a must own in dynasty/keeper leagues, but he’s more of a waiver wire add should he get called up during the 2019 season. The key for his call-up will be everyday at-bats.
Wander Franco – Tampa Bay Rays
Minors: .351/.418/.587/11 HR/57 RBI
The switch-hitting 18 year-old was the number two international prospect ahead of the 2017-2018 signing period. His switch-hitting offensive ability has allowed him to hit line drives to the gaps. Couple that with his ability to hit for a high average and hit anywhere at the top-to-middle of the lineup, and the Rays have one of the better middle infield prospects in baseball. Defensively, he’s as good as he is offensively. He has quick feet, solid range, and a strong throwing arm. At 5’10” 189lbs, he could eventually flip to the right-side of second base as he grows. Still, he’s the best switch-hitting prospect in baseball and gives the Rays a great outlook in terms of the middle infield position. Keep tabs on Franco, because he’s going to be highly sought after once he’s called to the Majors. One of the eye-popping stats for me was Franco’s 27 walks to 19 strikeouts through 242 at-bats.
Carter Kieboom – Washington Nationals
Minors: .280/.357/.444/16 HR/69 RBI
While it’s going to take time to get over the loss of Bryce Harper, the Nationals are in good hands in terms of youth. They already feature Trea Turner, Juan Soto, and Victor Robles. Pencil in Kieboom in the near future, and the Nationals have a great amount of athleticism for the future. In Kieboom, they have a player that has an advanced approach at the plate to go along with the ability to barrel balls all over the field. At times, he’s overly aggressive at the plate, but he has the time to make adjustments has he has yet to reach Triple-A. His great hands, and quick feet have allowed him to play admirably at shortstop, still a move to third base could happen with Trea Turner penciled in at shortstop. Moving Kieboom to third would allow the Nationals to move Rendon back to second base, and give them one of the better young teams across the diamond. While I don’t see Kieboom reaching the Majors in 2019, a freak accident could see him called up sooner rather than later. We saw Juan Soto quickly moved in 2018, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility for Kieboom.
Andres Gimenez – New York Mets
Minors: .281/.347/.409/6 HR/46 RBI/38 SB
Gimenez enters 2019 with an advanced approach at the plate. He has a great understanding of the strike zone, and can work the count, as well as draw walks. He possesses a short, compact left-handed swing, and has the speed to rack up extra-base hits. Defensively, he’s about as sound as it comes for the shortstop position. He has great range, quick feet, and a solid throwing arm. His advanced approach offensively and defensively see him only a season away from appearing in New York. Given his athleticism, and Amed Rosario already penciled in at short, the Mets have plenty of options with Gimenez whether it be second, third, or a corner outfield position. While numerous players on this list possess the ability to hit for great power, what intrigues me the most about Gimenez is his speed and stolen base ability. While I don’t see him putting up power numbers similar to others on this list, he does have the ability to steal the most bases. Stolen bases are a hot commodity in fantasy, and Gimenez could be the shortstop that leads the league in stolen bases at his position.
Jasrado (Jazz) Chisholm – Arizona Diamondbacks
Minors: .272/.329/.513/25 HR/70 RBI/17 SB
A 2015 international signing, Chisholm has quickly made a name for himself in the Diamondbacks minor league organization. He has great ability and some of the best potential in the game in terms of offensive ability and speed. He has yet to reach Double-A, and the next few seasons will give him time to polish his offensive abilities. He possesses plenty of raw power, and defensively he is sound for the shortstop position. Overall, he reminds a lot of Boston’s Xander Bogaerts, and could display similar numbers at the Major League level. A bit of an unknown throughout the fantasy realm, he’s a player to keep an eye on, because he could do a lot of damage offensively. Start keeping tabs on Chisholm now, because he could be a solid under-the-radar addition once he’s called up. A lot like New York Mets’ Gimenez, Chisholm could be a nice source of stolen bases one he reaches the Majors.
Kevin Maitan – Los Angeles Angels
Minors: .248/.306/.397/8 HR/26 RBI
Acquired as a free agent after the Braves had to forfeit his rights, Maitan is one of my favorite prospects in all of baseball. He’s a switch-hitting monster that has already been compared to some of the better young, power-hitting infielders in the game. He possesses power from both sides of the plate, and has solid athleticism for his size. He possesses one of the strongest arms of any minor league infielder, and could eventually move to the third base given his size. At 19, he’s a raw prospect, and has yet to play higher than rookie ball. Still, he has all the makings to be the next great switch-hitting power hitter. There’s no question the Angels already have arguably the best player in Mike Trout, add in prospects Jo Addel, Matt Thaiss, and Jahmai Jones and we could be looking at a solid lineup within the next two to three seasons. Patience is the key with Maitan, but with further seasoning the Majors he could quickly jump to a top-three prospect in all of MLB within the next few season.
Luis Garcia – Washington Nationals
Minors: .298/.336/.406/7 HR/54 RBI
Did I mention the plethora of youth the Nationals possess? Garcia is another young player that Nationals hold in high regards. He’s a plus athlete, who makes solid contact that could turn into a decent power bat. A lot like the two players (Gimenez & Chisholm) above, he possesses great speed and base running ability. We have yet to see him rack up a solid number of stolen bases, but I have a feeling we should see him jump into the 20+ range in 2019 as he makes his way through Single-A into Double-A and Triple-A. Defensively, he has quick feet, great reactions, and solid throwing arm. As with many prospects, finding a position at the Major League level will be his calling card. The Nationals have lot of young infield talent, and should they need to make a move at a trading deadline, Garcia could be a hot commodity for teams looking for solid prospects. If I had to put a bet on it, I would say Garcia is part of a deal headed to another team. If this is the case, he would automatically jump towards the top-three of any Major League team’s prospect rankings.
Rookie Eligibility: No more than 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched and less than 45 days on the active MLB roster
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Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore on Thursday February 28th, 2019 from 9pm – 10:30pm EST for the Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show. Call in number is 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. Now that we have finished our divisional break downs we move on to breaking down each position for fantasy purposes. This week we will discuss corner infield. (1B/3B)
Be sure to check out our Sunday night show March 3rd from 8pm to 9:30pm EST. They will cover the middle infield (SS/2B)
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday March 3rd, 2019 from 8-9:45pm EST for episode #142 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. Our topic this week is middle infield (2B/SS).
Our guest this week is Joel Gullo. Joel hosts a podcast at lennymelnickfantasysports.com.