MLB Pipeline will reveal its 2020 Top 100 Prospects list with a one-hour show on MLB Network and MLB.com, which will be broadcast on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release of the Top 100, we'll examine baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.
Shortstop is unquestionably the glamour prospect position at the moment.
Our current list of the game's 10 best shortstop prospects begins with the players who finished last year ranked 1-2 atop the MLB Pipeline Top 100 in Wander Franco (Rays) and Gavin Lux (Dodgers). They're followed by the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 Draft in Royce Lewis (Twins) and perhaps the Draft's top shortstop phenom since Alex Rodriguez in Bobby Witt Jr. (Royals).
Witt wasn't the only notable shortstop to make his pro debut last summer. Both CJ Abrams (Padres) and Marco Luciano (Giants) outperformed him in the Rookie-level Arizona League, where Abrams batted .401/.442/.662 and Luciano hit .322/.438/.616. There were impressive big league debuts as well, with Lux becoming the youngest player (age 21) to ever hit a pinch-hit homer in the playoffs, Carter Kieboom (Nationals) going deep in two of his first three games and Nico Hoerner responding to an emergency September callup by hitting .282 with three homers in 20 contests.
The Top 10 (ETA)
1.Wander Franco, Rays (2021)
2. Gavin Lux, Dodgers (2020)
3. Royce Lewis, Twins (2020)
4. Bobby Witt Jr., Royals (2022)
5. Carter Kieboom, Nationals (2020)
6. CJ Abrams, Padres (2022)
7. Marco Luciano, Giants (2022)
8. Jeter Downs, Dodgers (2021)
9. Nico Hoerner, Cubs (2020)
10. Ronny Mauricio, Mets (2022)
Complete list »
Hit: Franco (80)
MLB Pipeline has only graded two prospects ever as top-of-the scale hitters: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. last year and now Franco, a switch-hitter with electric bat speed, outstanding hand-eye coordination and an incredibly advanced approach for an 18-year-old. He batted .327/.398/.487 between two Class A levels in 2019, with more extra-base hits (43) and walks (56) than strikeouts (35). His strikeout rate of 7 percent ranked second in the Minors.
Power: Franco, Lux, Witt, Luciano, Mauricio (60)
It speaks to the changing nature of the game that half of our top 10 shortstops possess plus power. Luciano has more raw pop than any of them, generating it with outstanding bat speed, wiry strength and the loft in his right-handed stroke. He's just getting started but could hit 40 homers annually if he reaches his ceiling.
Run: Abrams (80)
Abrams can change games with his top-of-the-scale speed, using it beat out base hits, steal bases and cover ground at shortstop. He swiped 15 bags in his 34-game pro debut and will wreak even more havoc once he improves his reads and technique.
Arm: Franco, Witt, Luciano, Mauricio (60)
There aren't any true cannons on the list, though these four guys all have plus arm strength. The best arm of this group may belong to Witt, who ran his fastball into the mid-90s in high school. The Pirates' Oneil Cruz, who just missed making the shortstop top 10, has a plus-plus arm.
Field: Witt (60)
Oddly enough, scouts consider only one of our top 10 shortstops a lock to remain at the position. That's Witt, whose quick hands and feet, strong arm and high baseball IQ make him a quality defender.
Highest ceiling: Franco
It's hard to find upside greater than that of Franco, who could win batting titles, put up annual lines of .320/.400/.600 with 30 homers and 20 steals, and play at least a capable shortstop. If he has to move off the position, he should become a quality defender at second or third base, and his bat will play anywhere.
Highest floor: Lux
Lux could wind up at second base rather than shortstop, but he's definitely going to hit. He batted .347/.421/.607 with 26 homers and 10 steals last year, making him the first middle infielder age 21 or younger to log a 1.000 OPS in the upper Minors since Gregg Jefferies in 1987, and he came within .001 of on-base percentage of leading Minor League shortstops in all three slash stats for the second straight season.
Rookie of the Year candidate: Lux
As a prelude to Corey Seager winning the 2016 National League Rookie of the Year Award, the Dodgers gave him a starting job the previous September and in the playoffs. Lux is following the same path and looked comfortable in his first taste of the big leagues, though his 33 percent strikeout rate in 92 plate appearances was uncharacteristically high.
Highest riser: Luciano
All of these shortstops were highly touted a year ago as well, though only Luciano had turned professional but had yet to make his debut. Some scouts considered him the best hitter in the 2018 international crop and he earned a $2.6 million bonus, and he proved so advanced that he ended last summer as a 17-year-old in the Northwest League -- making him four years younger than the average player in the short-season circuit.
Humblest beginning: Downs
Downs was a supplemental first-round choice (32nd overall) who signed with the Reds for $1,822,500 in 2017. But that's downright modest compared to the other nine shortstops, who were all first-rounders or big-ticket international signings and averaged $3.9 million in bonuses.
Most to prove: Lewis
After showing more power and better defense than expected during a banner 2018 season, Lewis slumped to .236/.290/.371 last year between Class A Advanced and Double-A. There are questions as to whether his huge leg kick and busy right-handed swing might limit him against advanced pitching, though he generated positive momentum for 2020 by winning MVP honors in the Arizona Fall League.
Keep an eye on: Geraldo Perdomo, Diamondbacks
Perdomo also stood out in the AFL and showed why Arizona was willing to trade fellow shortstop Jazz Chisholm to acquire Zac Gallen. Signed for just $70,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2016, Perdomo is a gifted hitter and slick defender who could develop solid tools across the board.