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 completes the list.
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.
Reynaldo Navarro, Arizona, Grade C
20 years old, hit .262/.308/.339 with 12 steals for Class A South Bend. Made a lot of progress with the glove last year, but bat remains questionable and undisciplined. Young enough to improve but I'm doubtful about a huge breakout.
Yamaico Navarro, Boston, Grade C+
22 years old, hit .319/.373/.543 in 23 games for Class A Salem but .185/.270/.304 in 39 games for Double-A Portland. Toolsy, prone to injuries, has shown some hitting skills when healthy, may end up at third base due to range limits. Has some breakout potential.
Chris Nelson, Colorado, Grade C
24 years old, has been considered a top prospect at times, still toolsy, hit .280/.355/.477 but limited to 29 games for Double-A Tulsa due to injuries. Can still break out if he stays healthy.
Eduardo Nunez, New York-A, Grade C
22 years old, hit .322/.349/.433 with 19 steals for Double-A Trenton with 19 steals. Defense draws decent reviews from scouts but defensive metrics are poor. I think he could end up being a pretty solid utiltyman.
Gustao Nunez, Detroit, Grade C
22 years old, hit .315/.360/.425 in 112 games for Class A West Michigan. Stole 45 bases but caught 25 times, has good defensive tools but makes too many errors. Has breakout potential if he continues to refine reliability.
Chris Owings, Arizona, Grade C+
19 years old, hit .306/.324/.426 in 24 games for rookie-level Missoula. Supplemental first round last June, so you can make a case he should be a B-. Needs to improve defensive reliability and currently-poor strike zone judgment, but definitely could break out.
Tyler Pastornicky, Toronto, Grade C
20 years old, hit .269/.336/.346 for Class A Lansing with 51 steals. Solid in many ways, scouts love his personality, has some breakout potential but power looks weak right now.
Gustavo Pierre, Toronto, Grade C
18 years old, hit .259/.272/.431 for the GCL Blue Jays. Very toolsy, but very raw, needs to dramatically improve plate discipline in order to break out.
Trevor Plouffe, Minnesota, Grade C
23 years old, hit .260/.313/.407 for Triple-A Rochester. Disappointing former first round pick, just hasn't developed much with the bat. Could still be a utility guy but I don't see a huge breakout coming.
Josh Prince, Milwaukee, Grade C
22 years old, hit .262/.373/.319 with 38 steals in his pro debut between Helena and Class A Wisconsin. Controls zone well and steals bases, defense is sound, but lack of power could preclude a big breakout.
Jurickson Profar, Texas, Grade C
16 year old tools hound signed out of Curacao. Scouting reports are glowing but it is hard to know how they will translate into pro ball until we actually get to see it. Therefore I went with a conservative grade, which is my policy regarding players this young who haven't played in North America yet. Obviously could break out if the scouting reports are accurate.
David Renfroe, Boston, Grade C+
19 years old, third round pick last June, hasn't played yet. Great tools, might move to another position eventually, all is speculative at this point.
Carlos Rivero, Cleveland, Grade C
21 years old, hit .242/.309/.344 in disappointing Double-A season at Akron last year. Probably more of a second baseman or shortstop due to range limits. He controls the zone well and I think he has breakout potential this year with the bat. Keep an eye on him.
Henry Rodriguez, Cincinnati, Grade C
20 years old, hit .327/.354/.427 for the GCL Reds. Stole nine bases without being caught. Definite breakout potential for this switch-hitter, though might end up at second base in the long run.
Miguel Rojas, Cincinnati, Grade C
21 years old, hit .273/.326/.339 for Class A Dayton, stole 14 bases. Excellent defensive shortstop, reliable with good range. Makes contact but has no power at all. Some breakout potential if he can show a bit more pop.
Andrew Romine, Anaheim, Grade C
24 years old, hit .278/.351/.349 for Class A Rancho Cucamonga with 26 steals. Polished college product who does the little things well, can take a walk, but lacks power. Could be Tommy Manzella eventually.
Miguel Sano, Minnesota, Grade C+
As with Profar, I went with a conservative grade until we see some actual data. Will end up at third base or right field eventually, so maybe he doesn't belong on this list in an apples/oranges way. Miguel Cabrera-like offensive potential.
Luis Sardinas, Texas, Grade C
Another speculative player, signed out of Venezuela last year at age 16. Good reports about his defense, but doubts exist about his bat. No way to judge at this point.
Robbie Shields, New York-N, Grade C
22 years old, hit .178/.273/.267 for short-season Brooklyn but was playing with a bad elbow. Will miss 2010 with Tommy John surgery. He was a very good player in college at Florida Southern and could be again if he recovers properly.
Wilfredo Solano, Oakland, Grade C
Another speculation grade, signed for $750,000 last summer out of Venezuela. Power hitting prospect will probably move to third base or outfield.
Ruben Tejada, New York-N, Grade C+
20 years old, hit .289/.351/.381 with 19 steals for Double-A Binghamton. Good defender, makes contact, could draw more walks eventually. I like this guy quite a bit and he has significant breakout potential.
Oscar Tejeda, Boston, Grade C
20 years old, hit .257/.311/.332 for Class A Greenville, repeating the league. Good tools, has injury problems, young enough to break out but no sign of it happening soon.
Chris Valaika, Cincinnati, Grade C+
24 years old, hit just .235/.271/.344 for Triple-A Louisville. I like him better than the numbers he put up last year, as he was hampered by a hand injury. Could end up as a very useful superutility type.
Niko Vasquez, St. Louis, Grade C
21 years old, hit .209/.283/.293 in the New York-Penn League. He was much more effective after being drafted in the third round in 2008. Likely to move to second base. Too soon to give up on him, but I don't see any reason to expect a huge breakout this year.
Jonathan Villar, Philadelphia, Grade C
18 years old, hit .263/.346/.353 between the GCL Phillies and Williamsport in the NY-P. Fast, decent glove, will probably move to second base due to range limitations, might hit more in time. Maybe a medium-run breakout but I don't expect it in '10.
Ydwin Villegas, San Francisco, Grade C
19 years old, hit .302/.345/.352 with 12 steals for AZL Giants. Excellent defensive reputation, has speed, lacks power. Has medium-run breakout potential but I want to see him in full-season ball.
Lance Zawadski, San Diego, Grade C+
24 years old, hit .289/.372/.416 with 14 steals for Double-A San Antonio. Might move to second base in the long run due to range limits. Has both tools and skills and I think he's an excellent breakout candidate for this year.