The premium position on the field is shortstop. Usually, your best players man the position from Little League until they grow out of the position or run into someone who is better. You can find former shortstops in the outfield, second, third or even first base.
The crop of shortstops working through the minor leagues is deep with Fernando Tatis Jr. and Wander Franco at the top. While Tatis Jr. is likely to stay at the position for a long time, there is debate whether Franco will be. In Franco’s case, it might not matter as he has a chance to have a 70-grade hit tool with plus power and above-average speed early in his career.
Further down the list are two intriguing Latin players in Marcos Luciano and Ronny Mauricio. Luciano, one of the big International signees in 2018 who has yet to play an inning in the US or the DSL. While I don’t think he’s close to Wander Franco, he has interesting potential and is, therefore, a player to know. Mauricio is one of my favorite young players in the minor leagues with great defensive chops with a chance for power and some speed.
It’s hard to believe that Fernando Tatis Jr. was traded for James Shields. He might still need one more full year in the minors to work on his approach, but he’s nearly ready.
If you look up the players ahead of Wander Franco on this list, he could be the number one prospect in the game by the end of the season. He’s only 18 and will have to fight against the Rays “slow roasting” process, but the tools and advanced approach should make him a star.
While he might always play second fiddle to Vlad Jr., Bo Bichette’s tools could make him a star as well. In fact, his speed and power could make him a 20-20-100-100-.300 performer and candidly, that’s hardly second fiddle in any book.
The number one overall pick in 2016 is far from a finished product, but the speed-power combination point to a 20-20 performer who can stay at shortstop.
There is clearly some prospect fatigue setting in with Brendon Rodgers. He’s been on this list for the last three years and Rockies fans and fantasy owners want to see what he can do in the Major Leagues. That should happen in 2019.
One of the lesser know tooled up kids in the minor leagues is 19-year-old Jazz Chisholm. There’s still a ton of swing and miss in his game, but the bat speed is real and he’s a plus runner. There’s 20-20 potential provided he learns to control the strike zone.
In keeping with my lack of fear of ranking young players highly on this list, Andres Gimenez is a Top 40 prospect. Higher than Alonso? Yeah, but in a different way. He’s going to be a great defender with plus speed and enough power to hit 5 to 8 home runs annually.
With shortstop taken in Los Angeles for the next several years, Gavin Lux should slide over to second with a chance to see Los Angeles in 2020. He can hit with 20 home run potential.
Carter Kieboom has a lot of 50s on his scouting report but doesn’t have a true carrying tool. That shouldn’t matter as he can really play. With a move to second base likely, he has the upside of a Top 15-second baseman in the game.
Anderson Tejeda showed significant pop last season but also struck out too much. If he can cut down those strikeouts, he has star potential.
When Juan Soto and Luis Garcia were in the minor leagues together, there were discussions on who would have the better hit-tool. While Soto might have an insurmountable lead, Garcia can really hit. As he fills out, he should add more pop, but his speed will regress. In fact, it already has.
12. ONeil Cruz (Pit)
At 6-foot-6, ONeil Cruz will always have holes in his swing, but it could also come with 30 home runs. He’s a player in which I’m investing.
Arguably the number one international prospect after Victor Victor last season, Marcos Luciano is already getting helium. In fact, he has yet to even play in the DSL and is already on our “Just Missed” list. You can call it FOMO (fear of missing out) based on the success of Vlad Jr. and Wander Franco. I don’t care, the tools are exciting and Giants fans and fantasy owners need to get excited.
I love Amed Rosario, but Ronny Mauricio might be better. He’s a great defender with a chance for plus power with some speed. He’s a long way off as he doesn’t turn 18 until April.
Nico Hoerner was an afterthought for me until I saw him in the Fall League. I was impressed as he showed a real feel for the game. Unfortunately, by then, the Cubs list was already out, otherwise, he would have been higher on my list. I’m making up for that oversight by highlighting him on this list. The kid can really play.