History of Top Shortstop Prospects, 1995-2006, Part Two (2001-2006)
Here is a look at top-rated shortstop prospects from the Minor League Scouting Notebook (2001-2002) and the Baseball Prospect Book (2003-2006). This list includes players ranked Grade B+ or higher.
Wilson Betemit, Atlanta Braves Grade B+ Free Agent, 1995, Dominican Republic
Rated at Number 22 overall, based on excellent offensive and defensive performance in the New York-Penn League. Hasn't lived up to early expectations and is quite erratic.
Antonio Perez, Seattle Mariners Grade B+ Free Agent, 1998, Dominican Republic
Rated at Number 45 Solid season at age 19 in the California League, with good plate discipline and positive defensive reports. Suffered through numerous injury problems. Career .244/.320/.347 hitter in the majors.
Wilson Betemit, Atlanta Braves Grade A- Free Agent, 1995, Dominican Republic
Rated at Number Five after excellent Double-A performance.
Angel Berroa, Kansas City Royals Grade A- Free Agent, 1997, Dominican Republic.
Rated at Number 13 after strong Double-A performance, allegedly at age 21. We now know he was older than that and never had as much growth potential as it appeared. Undone by bad plate discipline as well.
Kelly Johnson, Atlanta Braves Grade A- Supp. 1st round pick, 2000, Texas HS
Rated at Number 15 after hitting 23 homers with 25 steals and 71 walks in the Sally League. It was apparent he would switch positions but was still playing shortstop at this time.
Brandon Phillips, Montreal Expos Grade B+ 2nd round, 1999, Georgia HS
Rated at Number 28.due to tools and improving skills and decent Double-A transition. Converted to second base. Took him time to figure things out but he eventually did.
Jose (Miguel) Cabrera, Florida Marlins Grade B+ Free Agent, 1999, Venezuela.
Rated at Number 29, he produced mediocre numbers in the Midwest League but was just 18 years old. Position switch seemed likely but his potential was apparent very early, even if the numbers (.268/.328/.382) weren't hot. Became a monster power hitter.
Chris Burke, Houston Astros Grade B+ 1st round pick, 2001, University of Tennessee
Rated at Number 36, just drafted out of college. Position switch to second base was already projected but hadn't happened yet. Did well in the minors but didn't adapt well to the majors, now a marginal utility guy.
Jose Reyes, New York Mets Grade B+ Free Agent, 1999, Dominican Republic
Rated at Number 45, after strong year in the Sally League. I was concerned about low walk rate. But he overcame that and has emerged as an outstanding player.
Jose Reyes, New York Mets Grade A Free Agent, 1999, Dominican Republic
Rated at Number Six on the first Top 50 hitters list due to across the board talents.
Jose Lopez, Seattle Mariners Grade B+ Free Agent, 2000, Venezuela
Rated at Number 16. Eventually converted to second base. Took some time to get going with the bat, but a decent player.
Jose Castillo, Pittsburgh Pirates Grade B+ Free Agent, 1997, Venezuela
Rated at Number 20 following what looked like breakthrough season in the Carolina League. Has seen regular action the last few years at second base and third base, but with mediocre results (.254/.296/.379 in his career).
Khalil Greene, San Diego Padres Grade B+ 1st round pick, 2002, Clemson.
Rated at Number 27. Has held regular shortstop job for five years, though what happened to his strike zone judgment?
Bobby Crosby, Oakland Athletics Grade B+ 1st round pick, 2001, Long Beach State.
Rated at Number 28. Hit 22 homers as a rookie, then fell apart offensively. Injuries have been a big factor.
Hanley Ramirez, Boston Red Sox Grade B+ Free Agent, 2000, Dominican Republic.
Rated at Number 31 following excellent pro debut in rookie ball. Tools galore, though it was a bit unclear how they would develop. His minor league career was inconsistent, but he put everything together at the major league level in 2006 and is a superb player.
Bobby Crosby, Oakland Athletics Grade A 1st round pick, 2001, Long Beach State
Ranked Number Two on the list, behind Joe Mauer.
B.J. Upton, Tampa Bay Devil Rays Grade A 1st round pick, 2002, Virginia HS
Ranked Number Four on the list. It was clear that defense was going to be an issue, but the bat looked quite special. The exact shape his career path will take is still uncertain even today.
Khalil Greene, San Diego Padres Grade B+ 1st round pick, 2002, Clemson
Ranked Number 22.
Jose Lopez, Seattle Mariners Grade B+ Free Agent, 2000, Venezuela
Ranked Number 29
Aaron Hill, Toronto Blue Jays Grade B+ 1st round pick, 2003, Louisiana State
Ranked Number 30. I really liked him in college and thought he could move very quickly. Had a strong 2007 season but has otherwise been mediocre.
Sergio Santos, Arizona Diamondbacks Grade B+ 1st round pick, 2002, California HS
Ranked Number 31 after he reached Double-A in his first full season. Hasn't reached the majors, bat seems to have topped out in Triple-A despite being young for his leagues in the beginning.
Hanley Ramirez, Boston Red Sox Grade B+ Free Agent, 2000, Dominican Republic
Ranked Number 32
Joel Guzman, Los Angeles Dodgers Grade A Free Agent, 2001, Dominican Republic
Ranked Number Two. He was very young and it looked like he had Cabrera-like potential, but he never got command of the strike zone. Another reminder that age-relative-to-league isn't everything.
Hanley Ramirez, Boston Red Sox Grade A- Free Agent, 2000, Dominican Republic
Ranked Number 11
Chris Nelson, Colorado Rockies Grade A- 1st round pick, 2004, Georgia HS
Ranked Number 12. I loved him in high school and thought his combination of tools and skills would move him through the system quickly. Alas, his skills have turned out to be weaker than they originally appeared. Still young enough to do something.
Erick Aybar, Anaheim Angels Grade A- Free Agent, 2002, Dominican Republic
Ranked Number 13. I liked the speed-and-defense game he showed in the Midwest League, and thought he might hit for a bit of power, too. Hasn't been great so far, but still young enough to develop in different directions.
Stephen Drew, Arizona Diamondbacks Grade B+ 1st round, 2004, Florida State University
Ranked Number 20. Given his college performance and tools, this seemed like a reasonable ranking to me, if not too conservative.
Omar Quintanilla, Oakland Athletics Grade B+ Supp 1st round, 2003, University of Texas
Ranked Number 23 after he hit 42 doubles, 13 homers and .321 between Modesto and Midland even as an undersized 5-9 player. I thought his polish and work ethic would help. Has been unable to duplicate this, looks like a utility guy now.
Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers Grade B+ 17th round, 2003, University of Missouri
Ranked Number 40 following excellent 2004 breakthrough season. Moved to second base in 2005. Here is an analysis of his minor league career.
Brandon Wood, Los Angeles Angels Grade A 1st round, 2003, Arizona HS
Ranked Number Four after monster .321/.383/.672 season in the California League. Still trying to find his way, problems with strike zone judgment the main issue.
Stephen Drew, Arizona Diamondbacks Grade A- 1st round pick, 2004, Florida State
Ranked Number Eight
Joel Guzman, Los Angeles Dodgers Grade A- Free Agent, 2001, Dominican Republic
Ranked Number 13. Strike zone problems were becoming more apparent, and it was uncertain where he would end up defensively. . .I listed him as a SS-3B-OF.
Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks Grade A- 1st round pick, 2005 ,Virginia HS.
Ranked Number 14. It seemed likely he would switch to the outfield, but had been drafted as a shortstop so I listed him that way since he hadn't played yet.
Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies Grade B+ 1st round pick, 2005, Long Beach State
Ranked Number 26. Great debut in '07, less effective but injured in '08.
These things tend to run in cycles, note how you had a spike of Latin free agents eartly, but then a group of college shortstops.
In Part Three, we will look at all first round shortstop during this period, concentrating on any one not mentioned yet. In Part Four, we will look at all current starting shortstops and see where they came from. Then we will try to draw some conclusions in Part Five.