These are the best SS prospects in baseball

January 27th, 2021

If you’re looking for the biggest names among the top 10 by position lists, the red carpet of prospect gazing, you’ve come to the right place. It’s one of the reasons why it’s so great that our Top 10 shortstops list is one of the last ones to be unveiled before the big Top 100 reveal.

This year’s list, like always, is almost entirely made up of first-round picks and huge international signees. Four of the first-rounders were top-10 selections in their respective Drafts, and two of the international signings got seven-figure bonuses.

The alumni from this list has largely lived up to expectations. Over the past 10 years (2011-20), no top 10 by position list has accrued more WAR in the big leagues than the shortstops.

The Top 10 (ETA)
1. Wander Franco, Rays (2021)
2. Bobby Witt Jr., Royals (2022)
3. CJ Abrams, Padres (2022)
4. Marco Luciano, Giants (2023)
5. Royce Lewis, Twins (2021)
6. Austin Martin, Blue Jays (2022)
7. Jordan Groshans, Blue Jays (2022)
8. Jeter Downs, Red Sox (2021)
9. Oneil Cruz, Pirates (2022)
10. Jazz Chisholm, Marlins (2021)
Complete List »

Top Tools

Hit: Franco (80)
Franco is only the second prospect we’ve ever given an 80 hit grade to (Vladimir Guerrero Jr. being the other). He absolutely raked across two levels of A ball in 2019 and has an 83/54 BB/K ratio in his Minor League career to go along with a .336/.405/.523 line.

Related

Power: Luciano (65)
Luciano’s raw power and bat speed are top of the scale, and he has the advanced hitting chops to get to it consistently. He’ll still be a teenager for most of the 2021 season, and he’s still filling out and adding strength to his 6-foot-2 frame.

Run: Abrams (80)
The No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 Draft swiped 15 bases in 34 games during his pro debut, and that’s only going to improve as he learns the nuances of his craft on the basepaths. That top-of-the-scale speed will also help him stretch singles into doubles and doubles into triples.

Arm: Cruz (70)
While it’s still unclear if the 6-foot-7 Cruz will be able to stay at shortstop long-term, there’s no question he can make every throw from the position with a plus-plus arm. If he has to move, seeing him throw out runners from right field would be a lot of fun.

Field: Witt, Abrams (60)
Witt and Abrams are the only plus defenders on the list, and while everyone expects Witt to stay at short for the long haul, some think Abrams could move to second or center field (Fernando Tatis Jr. is there, after all). Abrams worked very hard on his defense this past summer and fall, giving more confidence he can stick at the premium position if needed.

Superlatives

Highest ceiling: Franco
If it all completely clicks, Franco is a player who could contend for batting titles, hit 30 homers annually and swipe a bunch of bags, all while playing solid defense at shortstop.

Highest floor: Franco
Even if he has to move to second or third, he could be a plus defender in either spot. And wherever he plays, his approach at the plate makes him as sure a bet as there is to hit enough to contribute to a big league lineup.

Rookie of the Year Award candidate: Chisholm
Some of this has to do with opportunity. We have four players with an ETA of 2021, and if Franco is called up early enough, he might become the favorite. But Chisholm got a taste of the big leagues in '20, and he could get a lot of time on either side of second base this season.

Highest riser: Abrams
He only moved up three spots on the top 10, but evaluators are talking about him in a different way now. The combination of working on his defense last summer and adding strength to make him more of an offensive threat has him reaching the conversation of elite-level prospects.

Humblest beginning: Chisholm
This is a star-studded list full of first-round Draft picks and high-bonus signees. Chisholm signed for a relatively small $200,000 in July 2015 out of the Bahamas and was even overshadowed during that signing period in his home country by Lucius Fox, who signed for $6 million.

Most to prove: Cruz
Cruz made it to Double-A in 2019, though he missed a chunk of the season with a foot fracture, then looked lost and disinterested in the Arizona Fall League. Additionally, he’ll have to show he’s moved beyond the car accident he was involved with this offseason.

Keep an eye on: Geraldo Perdomo, D-backs
He has tremendous on-base skills with an advanced approach from both sides of the plate. He’s added strength and was showing an ability to drive the ball more last summer and fall and he can really play shortstop.