We’ve been taking a position by position look at prospects that we should see in the coming 2019 Major League Baseball season. Today, we turn our attention to shortstops. But before we head that way, let’s take a look at who we’ve covered so far.
The shortstop position is a tough one. Middle infielders seem to bounce around before they make the jump to the big leagues. Take the Atlanta Braves Ozzie Albies, for example. He was a sure fire shortstop prospect (in my opinion) and still could very well excel there, but when the Braves acquired Dansby Swanson, Albies shortstop days were over.
Let’s take a look at the guys who are playing shortstop as it is right now, and as we have in past position looks, we’ll address some question marks as well.
Fernando Tatis, Jr., San Diego Padres
The only thing holding Tatis, Jr. back is his injury. He rivaled for the top prospect spot in baseball last season and there is no reason to expect the same in 2019. The 19-year-old looked just fine in Double-A as one of the youngest hitters in any league. He posted a .862 OPS in 88 games with 22 doubles, 16 home runs, and 16 stolen bases. He has some swing-and-miss issues, but is clearly a special talent that seems ready for a quick rise and young debut. Another shortstop that many feel may shift to third, as long as Tatis, Jr. is healthy in 2019, he should see some big league at bats.
Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies
There were plenty that felt Rodgers would get a little cup of coffee before 2018 finished, but alas that never came to fruition, a mid-August trip to the DL likely the cause. Though he struggled in his 19-game Triple-A debut, there is little reason to doubt his bat will get him to the big leagues. Yet another prospect without a certain home, Rodger projects all over the infield. While some felt he didn’t have a chance to stick at short when he was drafted, he’s shown more than capable of doing so. Don’t be surprised if his future is at second however. We should see a little more this year.
Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays
(video from RedsMinorLeagues on YouTube)
While Bichette didn’t match his ludicrous 2017, the 20-year-old more than held his own in Double-A New Hampshire. He slashed .286/.343/.453, displaying all-field power with an impressive 43 doubles. Bichette’s swing is certainly recognizable as he steps and swivels with a big leg kick unloading his quick bat through the zone and hitting balls all over. He played all but nine games at short last season, so the Blue Jays seem confident that he can stay there. Should Bichette continue to develop he could be one of the best hitting shortstops in the game in just a few years. That’s pretty lofty praise.
Nick Gordon, Minnesota Twins
Gordon already appeared on the second base list because that’s where we feel he will wind up. There is just too much top-end talent at shortstop between Royce Lewis and Wander Javier coming up behind him for a bat that seems to have slowed down. John ranked him the Twins No. 6 prospect heading into 2019. Here’s why:
Grade B: Age 22, first round pick in 2014 from high school in Florida; destroyed Double-A at .333/.381/.525 in 162 at-bats but slumped after moving up to Triple-A, .212/.262/.283 in 382 at-bats; stole 20 bases combined; defense has really steadied, just 12 errors in 103 games at shortstop, only one error in 36 games at second; question now is bat, which looked weak in the International League; given past track record and pedigree I still have optimism long-term but needs more AAA time; ETA 2019.
Mauricio Dubon, Milwaukee Brewers
Dubon played in 27 games last season and he hit in his last 23 straight until a torn ACL ended his season. There was little doubt 2018 would finally be his big league debut. He’ll never have a lot of pop, but has shown an ability to make contact at every stop on the ladder. Once he’s healthy, expect an MLB debut.
Ray-Patrick Didder, Atlanta Braves
I was always one of the high-men on RPD after watching his breakout in Rome in 2016. He seemed like a diamond in the rough, slashing .274/.387/.381 with 30 extra base hits and 37 stolen bases. He was also a monster in the field with 20 assists. That was centerfield, however, and now Didder is a shortstop.
The wheels came off a little bit in 2017 in the Florida State League and didn’t look much like a prospect to start 2018. But he looked a bit more comfortable in Mississippi and is now getting some extra work in the Arizona Fall League. Don’t expect a future MLB starter out of Didder but his intriguing versatility could be helpful with a now aggressive Braves team.
Where does Carter Kieboom fit in?
Kieboom certainly has the bat to continue his quick ascent to the bigs, but talk about a log jam in the infield. The common consensus, including our own John Sickels, is that Kieboom has the stuff to stick at short, but both the bat and (probably) tools trend towards becoming a third baseman at the next level. With Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon blocking up the left side of the infield until at least 2020, Kieboom may be more than ready for his big league debut in 2019, but simply no place to go.