Prospect Watch: Top 10 shortstops
Boston's Bogaerts heads impressive list of elite infielders
MLBPipeline.com's 2014 Top 100 Prospects list will be unveiled on Thursday, Jan. 23, on MLB.com, as well as during a one-hour show on MLB Network, airing at 10 p.m. ET. Leading up to that, MLBPipeline.com takes a look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.
Three players on the 2013 list of Top 10 shortstops graduated to the Major Leagues last season, including previous top prospect Jurickson Profar. This year's Top 10 has six holdovers and four newcomers. With Profar now in the big leagues, his World Baseball Classic teammate Xander Bogaerts takes over the top spot.
1. Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox: The Aruba native made his Major League debut as a 20-year-old in August 2013, becoming the youngest Red Sox position player in 41 years. Bogaerts has all the makings of a future star. He has the ability to hit for both average and power. Bogaerts is a smooth fielder and can play both shortstop and third base. He played himself into an everyday role as a third baseman during the 2013 playoffs, hitting .296 in 12 games as Boston won the World Series.
2. Javier Baez, Cubs: In 2013, Baez led the Minor Leagues in extra-base hits (75) and RBIs (111), even as he reached Double-A as a 20-year-old. His hitting prowess comes from his incredible bat speed. Baez is a very aggressive hitter and is a good bad-ball hitter. His defense isn't as polished as his bat, and some scouts think he will end up as a second or third baseman.
3. Carlos Correa, Astros: The No. 1 overall pick of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft led the Midwest League with an .872 OPS as an 18-year old in 2013. Correa proved he is the kind of all-around talent worthy of being the top pick. Big and physical, he is an all-around hitter. While some scouts think he will outgrow shortstop, Correa has all the tools necessary to be a quality defender.
4. Francisco Lindor, Indians: The Puerto Rico native is a two-time Futures Game participant and is regarded as the best defensive shortstop in the Minor Leagues. He has good range, soft hands and a strong arm. Lindor is more of a line-drive hitter, but scouts believe he will develop more power as he matures. He has the tools to be a solid all-around player for years to come in Cleveland.
Grading the prospects
5. Addison Russell, A's: Oakland has challenged Russell early in his professional career, and he has answered the bell every time. He has erased some Draft-day questions about his long-term future at shortstop with his play. Now scouts are convinced Russell has the tools to be an above-average defender, capable of highlight-reel plays. He is a consistent performer in the batter's box as well, and is moving quickly toward the Major Leagues.
6. Corey Seager, Dodgers: Scouts believe Seager might end up better than his older brother Kyle, the Mariners' third baseman. Corey uses the whole field to hit and already shows good power. He should add even more as he physically matures. Just 19 years old, Seager is already bigger than most Major League shortstops, and a move to third base may be in his future. Either way, he has the tools to be an impactful big leaguer.
7. Raul Adalberto Mondesi, Royals: The son of former All-Star Raul Mondesi, the 18-year-old played much of the 2013 season as a 17-year old in the South Atlantic League. He more than held his own against the older competition and impressed with his all-around skill set. A switch-hitter, Mondesi has a good feel for hitting from both sides of the plate. He has the potential to be an above-average defender.
8. Alen Hanson, Pirates: One of the Bucs' many talented international players, Hanson is an advanced hitter. His fast hands allow him to drive the ball to all fields with more power than his frame would suggest. Hanson is an above-average runner and uses his speed aggressively. He isn't as advanced defensively, and some scouts think he would be better suited at second base.
9. Luis Sardinas, Rangers: After successfully graduating Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar to the Major Leagues in recent years, the Rangers hope Sardinas is next in line. He isn't quite at their level, but Sardinas is a talented all-around player. A speedy switch-hitter, Sardinas knows how to get on base. He is an excellent defender with a strong arm and has all the tools to play shortstop in the big leagues.
10. Chris Owings, D-backs: The 2013 Pacific Coast League MVP made his Major League debut in September. Owings isn't flashy, but he is a steady player whose sum may be greater than his parts. He squares the ball up well and hits line drives to all fields. Owings is something of a tweener at shortstop, with some scouts believing he is better suited for second base. Either way, he has the tools and intangibles to make it in the big leagues.
Hak-Ju Lee missed almost all of last season after tearing ligaments in his left knee in a collision at second base. Now that he's healthy again, the Rays prospect could soon be ready for the Major Leagues. He is an excellent defender and has the speed and the bat to be a top-of-the-order hitter.
The Indians challenged Dorssys Paulino last year by sending him to the Midwest League as an 18-year-old. He struggled early in the season against the older competition, but ended the year much better. Paulino hit .267 after the All-Star break, even showing off some power with four home runs. If he can build on that, he could be in for a strong showing in 2014.