Breakthrough Shortstop Candidates for 2010
A few weeks ago, a reader asked me to run down shortstop prospects who could be breakthrough candidates for 2010, ignoring anyone with a Grade B- or higher in the Baseball Prospect Book, focusing only on players with a Grade C or C+. So here they are: every shortstop in the book with a C or C+, and a summary on if I think they are a breakthrough candidate or not. Players are listed alphabetically. This is A through F; other letters will come in subsequent posts.
Please remember the definition of a Grade C prospect:
"Grade C prospects are the most common type. They are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don't make it at all."
Remember that the letter grade is a shorthand, and a 24-year-old Grade C prospect in Double-A has much less development potential than a 17-year-old Grade C prospect in rookie ball.
Ehire Adrianza, San Francisco, Grade C:
Defensive specialist hit .258/.333/.327 last year in the Sally League. Age 20, has good command of the strike zone but no power. Breakout potential is marginal.
Darwin Barney, Chicago-N, Grade C
24 year old hit .268/.308/.335 last year in Triple-A. Steady glove, future utility infielder, very little breakout potential.
Jeff Bianchi, Kansas City, Grade C+
24 year old will miss the year with elbow surgery. Obviously can't break out if he can't stay healthy.
Tyler Bortnick, Tampa Bay, Grade C
22 year old, hit .300/.386/.470 in the New York-Penn League with 24 steals. May switch to second base due to range limits, but clearly has some breakout potential.
Andy Ciriaco, Detroit, Grade C
22 years old, hit .262/.298/.397 with 15 steals for Class A Lakeland. Toolsy, good arm and range but makes too many errors. Has some breakout potential if he can refine strike zone, a big if.
Pedro Ciriaco, Arizona, Grade C
24 years old, hit .298/.319/.367 with 38 steals for Double-A Mobile. Good defender, has speed, but lacks pop and plate discipline. Breakout potential is marginal.
Dusty Coleman, Oakland, Grade C
23 years old, hit .254/.345/.410 with 18 steals for Class A Kane County, .220/.304/.330 for Class A Stockton. Quite toolsy, good glove, strikes out too much. Some breakout potential if he gets the zone under control.
Zach Cozart, Cincinnati, Grade C+
24 years old, hit .262/.360/.398 with 10 homers, 10 steals for Double-A Carolina. Good defensive reputation, sometimes hits well, draws walks. Has some breakout potential.
Brandon Crawford, San Francisco, Grade C
23 years old, hit .258/.294/.365 for Double-A Connecticut. Great tools, strong glove, but very erratic hitter due to strike zone problems. Has breakout potential if he can get the zone under control.
Drew Cumberland, San Diego, Grade C+
21 years old, hit .293/.386/.410 for Class A Fort Wayne in 77 games. May move to second base due to range limits and high error rate. A definite breakout possibility, at least on offense.
Jarek Cunningham, Pittsburgh, Grade C
20 years old, out all of 2009 with blown ACL. May move to third base. Good enough hitter to break out if he's healthy.
Estarlin de los Santos, Minnesota, Grade C
23 years old, hit .290/.330/.397 for Class A Fort Myers, has some tools with speed and good glove, though error rate is high. Bad plate discipline. Breakout potential is marginal but not zero.
Ryan Dent, Boston, Grade C
21 years old, listed at second base and shortstop, hit .252/.350/.391 for Class A Greenville. Has speed, can draw walks but strikes out a lot, good defensive rep. Has breakout potential if he can cut back on the whiffs.
Ian Desmond, Washington, Grade C+
24 years old, hit .280/.318/.561 in 21 games for the Nationals last year and won shortstop job this spring. In this case, the C+ grade was too conservative and should have a Grade B-. So he's not really a "breakout" candidate in the sense that others are. He's already done so.
Jason Donald, Cleveland, Grade C+
25 years old, hit traded to Indians in the Cliff Lee deal, plagued with injuries last year. I think he's more of a good utility guy than a future regular.
Eduardo Escobar, Chicago-A, Grade C
21 years old, hit .256/.300/.328 with 20 steals for Class A Kannapolis. Very sharp defensive shortstop, has speed, but lacks power and doesn't control the strike zone. Breakout chance is remote at this point.
Yowill Espinal, Kansas City, Grade C
19 years old, hit .246/.327/.407 with 20 steals for rookie-level Burlington. Strong tools, made some progress with the strike zone last year. He has breakout potential but more of a candidate for improvement in '11 I think.
Pedro Florimon, Baltimore, Grade C
23 years old, hit .267/.336/.428 with 15 steals for Class A Frederick. Another toolsy guy, kills lefties but can't hit right-handers, good range and arm strength but makes too many mistakes. Some breakout potential.
Brian Friday, Pittsburgh, Grade C
24 years old, hit .265/.361/.386 for Double-A Altoona, while battling injuries. Steady glove, draws walks, injury-prone. He has some breakout potential, though ceiling isn't as high as some of the others.