Most hyped SS prospects of the past 20 years

April 22nd, 2020

A dozen Hall of Famers, as well as some of the best players in baseball history, comprise’s list of the top shortstops in franchise history for all 30 teams. Featuring legends such as Honus Wagner, Derek Jeter, Cal Ripken Jr. and Ozzie Smith, the list underscores the type of impact that a truly elite shortstop can have on an organization.

Since started in 2001, the vast majority of clubs have had a shortstop rank among the elite prospects in the game, five of whom already are regarded as the best shortstop in their respective team’s history. And there are nearly 10 others who appear to have a realistic shot at ultimately claiming that title.

After previously looking at catchers, first, second and third basemen, this week we identify the most-hyped shortstop prospect from 2001-20 for every organization:

(* indicates that the player was also named the best shortstop in franchise history)

American League East

Blue Jays: Bo Bichette
Taken by Toronto in the second round of the 2016 Draft, a little less than a year after the Blue Jays had signed Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bichette twice cracked the Top 15 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list, climbing from No. 14 in 2018 up to No. 11 the next year. He compiled a .321/.380/.515 line in the Minors and continued to rake as a 21-year-old last summer in his first taste of the big leagues, batting .311/.358/.571 with 11 homers and 18 doubles while accruing 2.3 WAR in just 46 games.

Orioles: Manny Machado
The No. 3 overall pick in the 2010 Draft, behind only Bryce Harper and Jameson Taillon, he jumped in at No. 24 on our Top 100 list in 2011. He shot up to No. 6 in 2012 and was in the big leagues that year as a teenager. It was as a third baseman, and he’s played nearly four times as many games at the hot corner than at his original position.

Rays: Wander Franco
MLB Pipeline’s No. 1 prospect doesn’t quite have Guerrero Jr.-like hype, at least not yet, but he certainly is not far behind the Blue Jays’ young masher. A .336/.405/.523 hitter across his first two pro seasons, Franco entered MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list during the 2018 midseason re-rank (No. 41) and opened last year at No. 13 before jumping to the No. 1 spot at the midseason mark at age 18. The switch-hitter ultimately produced a .327/.398/.487 line between Class A Bowling Green and Class A Advanced Charlotte in his first full season, furthering his reputation as MLB Pipeline’s best prospect.

Red Sox: Xander Bogaerts
Signed for $410,000 out of Aruba in 2009, Bogaerts quickly became the Red Sox's most exciting international prospect since Hanley Ramirez. He smacked 16 homers as an 18-year-old in Class A in 2011, then learned third base on the fly to help Boston win the World Series two years later. Following a rough rookie year, he has claimed three Silver Slugger Awards and two All-Star Game berths in the past five seasons.

Yankees: Gleyber Torres
One of the top prospects in the 2013 international class, Torres signed with the Cubs for $1.7 million out of Venezuela and looked like a future star from the start. With an All-Star at shortstop in Addison Russell and a desperate need for a closer, Chicago made Torres the centerpiece of a July 2016 trade package for Aroldis Chapman, who contributed in the World Series three months later. Torres ranked No. 1 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospect list at the end of 2017, then hit 62 homers and played in two All-Star Games in his first two big league seasons at ages 21 and 22.

American League Central

Indians: Francisco Lindor
When the Indians made Lindor the No. 8 overall pick in a loaded 2011 Draft, the Florida high schooler was regarded as a future Gold Glover who could put the bat on the ball and steal a few bases. Power was never supposed to be a big part of his game, and hitting 21 homers in 416 Minor League games on his way up did nothing to dispel that notion. Yet he has slammed 103 homers in the last three seasons and now has four All-Star selections, two Silver Sluggers and two Gold Gloves in four full years in the Majors.

Royals: Bobby Witt Jr.
Witt Jr., the son of 1985's No. 3 overall pick and 16-year big league pitcher Bobby Witt, became the highest-drafted member of his family when the Royals took him second overall last June. Currently ranked as MLB Pipeline’s No. 10 prospect, he is an impressive athlete who possesses across-the-board tools, including a power-speed combo that could make him a 20-homer, 20-steal player in the big leagues. Adalberto Mondesi, a three-time MLB Pipeline Top 100 prospect (2014-16), also received consideration as Kansas City’s most-hyped shortstop prospect, though he never topped the No. 37 spot on any list.

Tigers: Ramon Santiago
Though neither MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects list (2012-present) nor’s Top 50 (2004-11) has ever featured a Tigers shortstop, Santiago was a two-time Top 100 prospect at Baseball America (2000-01). Detroit traded him to Seattle for Carlos Guillen before the 2005 season, after Santiago had batted .231/.297/.311 in 206 games across his first two seasons, but brought him back as a free agent in January ’06. He fared better in his return to the Motor City, slashing .250/.318/.343 while playing multiple infield positions over the next eight seasons before finishing his career with the Reds in 2014.

Twins: Royce Lewis
The Twins took Lewis No. 1 overall back in 2017 and he debuted at No. 31 on our midseason Top 100 that summer. He moved up to No. 20 to start his first full season and has been in our top 10 the last two years. He shook off a rough 2019 season with a huge Arizona Fall League season, though it’s possible he plays another position once he gets to Minnesota.

White Sox: Gordon Beckham
The No. 8 overall choice in 2008, Beckham looked like a future star after leading Georgia to the College World Series finals, tearing up Class A in his pro debut and reaching Chicago 10 months after signing. But after homering 14 times with an .808 OPS in 103 games as a rookie, he has yet to post even a .700 OPS since, though he's still bouncing around in the big leagues.

American League West

Angels: Brandon Wood
Wood really jumped onto the national prospect radar after his huge 2005 season that saw him hit 43 homers during the regular season in the California League, then a record 14 more in the Arizona Fall League. He flew up to No. 3 overall on the 2006 preseason list and was in the Top 10 again prior to 2007. He made his big league debut that season, but he never found his power stroke at that level and played his last Major League game in 2011.

Astros: Alex Bregman
Carlos Correa was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 Draft but never quite reached the pinnacle of MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list. Bregman went No. 2 out of Louisiana State in 2015 but did rank as the game's best prospect by mid-2016, so he gets the slight nod. Bregman surfaced in Houston shortly afterward, moved to third base to accommodate Correa and has finished in the top five of the American League voting in each of the last two years.

A’s: Addison Russell
Franklin Barreto, a four-year Top 100 prospect, gets an honorable mention, but there’s no doubt Russell, the team’s top pick in the 2012 Draft (No. 11 overall), was definitely more hyped. He reached as high as No. 12 with the A’s (he was No. 5 with the Cubs post-trade), making his big league debut as the Cubs starting shortstop in 2015 at age 21.

Mariners: Nick Franklin
Carlos Triunfel got some consideration, but while Franklin was never a Top 10-type prospect like others on this list, he was in our rankings three years in a row, topping out at No. 38 prior to the 2011 season (No. 52 in 2012; No. 47 in 2013). While he has compiled a positive WAR in the big leagues (1.2), he hasn’t come close to reaching the potential people believed he had after his 20-20 season in the Minors in 2010.

Rangers: Jurickson Profar
Before Wander Franco (mid-2019, pre-2020), Profar was the only shortstop to rank No. 1 on consecutive MLB Pipeline's Top 100 lists (mid-2012, pre-2013). Signed for $1.55 million out of Curacao in 2009, he blossomed into a switch-hitter with solid or better tools across the board, but his career got put on hold when a torn muscle in his throwing shoulder cost him all of 2014 and most of '15. He finally became a regular in 2018 and hit 20 homers for the Rangers, matched that total last season with the Athletics and joined the Padres following another trade in December.

National League East

Braves: Dansby Swanson
Swanson was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 Draft out of Vanderbilt, taken by the D-backs, who traded him to the Braves that offseason. He was considered a Top 10 prospect (No. 8) before the 2016 season and narrowly missed graduating off the list that season, allowing him to be our No. 4 prospect in 2017. He has now established himself as Atlanta’s every day shortstop.

*Marlins: Hanley Ramirez**
Ramirez's loud tools made him the Red Sox's best prospect soon after they signed him for $20,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2000, but he never put together a huge year in their farm system. The key to a blockbuster trade that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston in November 2005 -- which paid off with a Sox World Series championship two years later -- Ramirez jumped from Double-A to the Marlins and logged an .833 OPS with 74 extra-base hits and 51 steals in '06. He won the National League Rookie of the Year Award that season, a batting title three years later and made three All-Star teams en route to becoming the best shortstop in franchise history.

*Mets: Jose Reyes**
A two-time Baseball America Top 100 prospect, Reyes entered 2003 as the sport’s No. 3 prospect and reached the Majors that season at age 19, batting .307/.334/.434 as a rookie. He would make four National League All-Star teams and win the 2011 NL batting title (.337) over parts of 13 seasons in New York, during which he posted the 10th-highest WAR in franchise history (27.7) -- more than nine full wins above any other Mets shortstop. Altogether, Reyes, who did not play in 2019, put together a .283/.334/.427 line, with 517 steals and 1,180 runs scored, as a 37.0-WAR player in 16 seasons.

*Nationals: Trea Turner**
Washington acquired Turner from the Padres in a lopsided three-team trade with the Rays in Dec. 2014, roughly six months after San Diego had taken him with the 13th-overall pick in the first round, though he didn’t join the Nationals system until June ’15, per MLB’s rules. Turner reached the big leagues three months later, filling in admirably in center field for the Nationals, and he opened the 2016 season at No. 11 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list. He finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting that year, batting .342/.370/.567 with 33 steals in 73 games, and he sports an overall line of .291/.348/.467 line with 159 steals (14.1 WAR) through his first five seasons in D.C., the latest of which included a World Series title.

Phillies: J.P. Crawford
The jury is still out on just what kind of big leaguer Crawford, now with the Mariners, will be, but he was one of the best shortstop prospects in baseball for three years running, ranking No. 5 overall on the 2016 preseason Top 100 (He was No. 21 in 2015), No. 7 in 2017 and even though he slid, he was still No. 37 prior to the 2018 season.

National League Central

Brewers: Orlando Arcia
Signed out of Venezuela in Oct. 2010, Arcia made slow but steady progress through Milwaukee’s system before he earnestly established himself as a prospect in '14. He cracked MLB Pipeline’s 2015 Top 100 list at No. 88 and had climbed up to No. 6 by the next year thanks to an impressive campaign as a 20-year-old in Double-A. But after compiling a .284/.342/.407 batting line in the Minors, Arcia has produced mixed results during his four seasons in Milwaukee, batting .243/.292/.360 over 479 games, albeit with a pair of 15-homer performances.

Cardinals: Delvin Perez
The Cardinals had not selected a shortstop in the first round since 2007 (Pete Kozma) before they landed Perez with the 23rd-overall pick in the 2016 Draft. Though the Puerto Rico native cracked MLB Pipeline’s preseason Top 100 list for 2017, checking in at No. 91, an underwhelming performance that year in Rookie ball caused Perez's prospect stock to plummet quickly, and he has since fallen off the Cardinals' Top 30 list. He did, however, begin to show signs that he might be turning the corner last year in his first full season by batting .269/.329/.325 with 22 steals in the Class A Midwest League.

Cubs: Addison Russell
The No. 11 overall choice in the 2012 Draft as a Florida prepster, Russell quickly became one of baseball's best shortstop prospects, but the Athletics included him in a win-now trade to get Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs in July 2014. He became an everyday player in Chicago as a 21-year-old the following year, then made the All-Star Game and helped win a World Series in 2016 -- when his burgeoning stardom led the Cubs to include Torres in the Chapman deal. Russell hasn't been nearly as good the last three seasons and drew a 40-game suspension in 2018-19 after violating MLB's domestic violence policy.

Pirates: Oneil Cruz
Alen Hansen, who was our choice for second base prospect a couple of weeks ago, got a look here as well. Maybe this is recency bias, but so much has been written and said about how intriguing the 6-foot-7 Cruz is as a shortstop prospect, it’s hard not to choose him and his incredible ceiling.

Reds: Billy Hamilton
Hamilton has played exactly zero games at shortstop in the big leagues, but that’s where he started during his climb up the Reds’ ladder. He reached as high as No. 11 on our Top 100 in 2013 and will go down as one of the fastest prospects ever, one who stole 155 bases in the Minors in 2012, the second straight year he topped the century mark.

National League West

*D-backs: Stephen Drew**
Drew was viewed as a potential No. 1 pick in the 2004 Draft but fell to No. 15 due to his high price tag as a Scott Boras client. The D-backs were thrilled to land the Florida State product in the mid-first round, and he reached the Majors two years later, debuting in July 2006 after he had opened the season as’s No. 9 prospect. Serving as Arizona’s primary shortstop for parts of seven seasons, Drew tallied at least 12 home runs in every season from 2007-10, including a career-high 21 in '08, and was a 13.2-WAR player during his D-backs tenure. He went on to play for the A’s, Red Sox, Yankees and Nationals.

Dodgers: Corey Seager
Gavin Lux may rank No. 2 on our current Top 100 list, but Seager did him one better four years ago. Selected 18th overall in the 2012 Draft out of a North Carolina high school, he led the Minors in hitting (.349) and doubles (50) in '14 and was starting in the playoffs for the Dodgers a year later at age 21. The NL Rookie of the Year in 2016 and an All-Star in his first two full seasons, he missed most of 2018 following Tommy John surgery but returned to form last year and topped the NL with 44 doubles.

Giants: Marco Luciano
No. 35 on MLB Pipeline's current Top 100, Luciano signed for $2.6 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2018 and had a spectacular pro debut last summer, logging a 1.055 OPS in the Rookie-level Arizona League before becoming the youngest position player (age 17) in the short-season Northwest League. He has electric bat speed and more raw power than any infielder in the Minors.

Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr.
Acquired from the White Sox for James Shields in a June 2016 trade that has quickly become one of the more panned deals in recent memory, Tatis saw his prospect stock explode during a 22-homer, 32-steal first full season and, as a result, he opened 2018 as MLB Pipeline’s No. 8 prospect and delivered another eye-opening campaign, this time as a 19-year-old in Double-A. The performance pushed Tatis up to the No. 2 spot on the 2019 Top 100 list, and he made an immediate impact as a 20-year-old rookie after cracking the Padres’ Opening Day roster. A stress reaction in his back cost Tatis much of the second half, though he still produced a .317/.379/.590 line with 22 homers and 16 steals in just 84 games -- good for 4.1 WAR and a third-place finish in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.

*Rockies: Troy Tulowitzki**
One of five players to be both our choice for top prospect and the selection for best player at the position in franchise history, Tulo was the No. 7 overall pick in the vaunted 2005 Draft. He was the No. 36 prospect prior to the start of the 2006 season and made his Major League debut at the end of August of that season. He hit our Top 10 in 2007 (No. 9), the year he ended up finishing second in NL Rookie of the Year voting en route to a career that saw him make five All-Star teams with the Rockies.