Tomorrow's All-Stars: Predicting the 10 Best Shortstops in 5 Years

Karl BuscheckContributor IIIMay 28, 2014

Tomorrow's All-Stars: Predicting the 10 Best Shortstops in 5 Years

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    Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    There's just one reason why shortstop is the fifth and final stop in this five-part series known as "Tomorrow's All-Stars."

    It's all about saving the best for last, and this position is home to the most dynamic athletes on the diamond. The first four players who made the cut are all ranked in the top 11 on MLB.com's 100 best prospects list. 

    There simply aren't that many players who can handle the defensive demands of the position. There are even fewer who can also provide All-Star-caliber production at the plate. This list is loaded with prospects who check both of those boxes. 

    Over the past month, this series has combed through the minor leagues to uncover the future standouts at catcher, first base, second base and third base

    Now, it's time to take a look into the future and see which players will be the 10 best shortstops in five years' time.  

     

A Word on the Criteria

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    The idea behind this series is to focus on the prospects.

    For that reason, you won't find any players on this list who have already made their MLB debuts. However, there are certainly current shortstops who could still be playing at an All-Star level in five years' time.

    So, here's a rundown of active major leaguers who would have been under consideration had the top 10 list included current big leaguers: 

    • Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies
    • Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
    • Andrelton Simmons, Atlanta Braves
    • Ian Desmond, Washington Nationals

Honorable Mentions

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Before we get started with the top 10, let's take a look at a few of the prospects who just missed the cut: 

    • Luis Sardinas, Texas Rangers*
    • Hak-Ju Lee, Tampa Bay Rays
    • Deven Marrero, Boston Red Sox
    • Franklin Barreto, Toronto Blue Jays

    *Note: Luis Sardinas has been included as an honorable mention because the shortstop recently lost his eligibility for this list when he debuted with the Texas Rangers on April 20. 

     

     

10. Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox

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    Age: 20

    Current Minor League Level: High-A

    2014 Stats: .264 (43-for-163), .297 OBP, .393 SLG, 8 2B, 5 3B, HR, 11 RBI, 8 SB

     

    The Track Record

    The Chicago White Sox nabbed Tim Anderson with the No. 17 pick in the 2013 draft.

    Last summer, Anderson impressed with his speed as he swiped 24 bases in 68 Low-A games. This year, the shortstop moved up to High-A, where his wheels have once again been on full display. The 20-year-old has already collected five triples and stolen eight bags. 

    The concern with Anderson at the plate, though, is that he's already demonstrated a tendency to strike out. In 2014, the right-handed hitter has punched out 41 times in 40 games. 

    In the field, Anderson's defensive play remains a work in progress. His below-average arm could ultimately lead him to shift positions to either center field or second base. Still, his speed makes him a major asset for the White Sox.

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    With Alexei Ramirez staring at shortstop, the White Sox can afford to be patient with Anderson. The former top pick will likely spend all of the 2014 season in High-A before starting the 2015 campaign in Double-A. Following such a timeline, Anderson could end up in Chicago by the end of the 2016 season. 

9. Rosell Herrera, Colorado Rockies

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    Age: 21

    Current Minor League Level: High-A

    2014 Stats: .264 (19-for-72), .284 OBP, .278 SLG, 2B, 8 RBI, 2 SB

     

    The Track Record

    Last year, Rosell Herrera was the South Atlantic League MVP as he led the circuit with a .343 average.

    The switch-hitter also added 33 doubles and 16 home runs while posting a .933 OPS. This year, Herrera has appeared in just 18 games for the Colorado Rockies' High-A affiliate as he has been sidelined with a wrist injury since April 22. 

    At 6'3", there's a chance that Herrera could eventually outgrow shortstop. In 2014, the 21-year-old has already spent time at third base. 

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    Depending on how quickly he returns from injury, Herrera could earn a promotion to Double-A before the end of the 2014 season. The Dominican will likely spend much of the 2015 and 2016 campaigns in the high minors and could reach Coors Field either by late 2016 or early 2017. 

8. J.P. Crawford, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Age: 19

    Current Minor League Level: Low-A

    2014 Stats: .344 (54-for-157), .434 OBP, .490 SLG, 14 2B, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 8 SB

     

    The Track Record

    J.P. Crawford is battering the South Atlantic League in his first full season as a professional.

    Selected with the No. 16 pick in the 2013 draft, Crawford is hitting .344 with 14 doubles for the Philadelphia Phillies' Low-A affiliate. The left-handed batter has also demonstrated an advanced approach at the plate as he has accumulated as many walks (24) as strikeouts.

    Crawford is renowned for his skill in the field. There are no doubts about his ability to remain at shortstop as he has an outstanding arm and a solid range.

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    Crawford still has lots of climbing to do before he arrives in the majors. 

    The 19-year-old will likely spend all of the 2014 season in Low-A and and all of the 2015 campaign in High-A. If he reaches Double-A by the 2016 season, Crawford could break into the Phillies' lineup early in 2017 when he will be 22 years old. 

7. Alen Hanson, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Age: 21

    Current Minor League Level: Double-A

    2014 Stats: .263 (50-for-190), .306 OBP, .447 SLG, 7 2B, 5 3B, 6 HR, 25 RBI, 11 SB

     

    The Track Record

    Alen Hanson has a rare combination of power and speed. His best season in the minor leagues was in 2012, when the switch-hitter batted .309 with 33 doubles, 13 triples and 16 home runs while stealing 35 bases. 

    This year, the 21-year-old has already connected on six home runs and recorded 11 stolen bases for the Pittsburgh Pirates' Double-A squad. However, Hanson still has work to do in the field. He has the range to handle shortstop, but there is a serious debate about whether his lack of arm strength will lead the Pirates to shift him to second base. 

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    Hanson is on the verge of being big-league ready. With a strong second half of the season, Hanson could earn a September call-up and challenge for an everyday job at the start of the 2015 season. 

6. Raul Adalberto Mondesi, Kansas City Royals

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    Age: 18

    Current Minor League Level: High-A

    2014 Stats: .252 (35-for-139), .307 OBP, .360 SLG, 6 2B, 3 3B, HR, 10 RBI, 7 SB

     

    The Track Record

    Raul Adalberto Mondesi, the son of All-Star outfielder Raul Mondesi, is rising rapidly through the Kansas City Royals' minor league system. 

    The shortstop is playing for the club's High-A affiliate as an 18-year-old, which makes him five years younger than the average player in the league, per Baseball-Reference.com. With a .252 average and one home run, the switch-hitter still has lots to work on at the plate. Of course, that's to be expected considering that he's facing far more advanced opponents.

    In the field, Mondesi is already excelling. He should have no trouble remaining at shortstop thanks to his strong arm and his impressive range. 

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    Due to his age, Mondesi will likely spend all of the 2014 season in High-A. The shortstop should begin the 2015 season in Double-A and could break into the Royals' lineup by the middle of 2016. 

5. Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Age: 20

    Current Minor League Level: High-A

    2014 Stats: .361 (65-for-180), .408 OBP, .594 SLG, 20 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 29 RBI, 5 SB

     

    The Track Record

    Corey Seager is off to a monster start in 2014.

    The No. 18 pick from the 2012 draft is batting .361 with a 1.003 OPS. The left-handed batter has been an extra-base hitting machine with 20 doubles, two triples and six home runs. Seager has demonstrated tremendous power throughout the course of his minor league career with a .514 slugging percentage in parts of three seasons. 

    While his bat has been remarkable, Seager's glove is a different story. The 20-year-old's lack of range at shortstop could end up pushing him to third base. 

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    Thanks to his incredible start at the plate, Seager is on pace to earn a midseason promotion to Double-A. The slugger could be ready to slide into the Dodgers' lineup on a full-time basis by the middle of the 2015 season.  

4. Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians

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    Age: 20

    Current Minor League Level: Double-A

    2014 Stats: .289 (52-for-180), .371 OBP, .417 SLG, 5 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 30 RBI, 11 SB

     

    The Track Record

    Still just 20 years old, Francisco Lindor has already appeared in the All-Star Futures Game twice.

    The shortstop has an excellent arm and is renowned for his glove work in the field. Lindor doesn't off as much pop as some of the other players on this list, but he does have the ability to hit for high average. This year, Lindor is batting .289 in Double-A where he is 4.6 years younger than the average player in the league, according to Baseball-Reference.com

    With a .371 OBP, Lindor has also demonstrated strong on-base skills. Once he reaches base, he's also capable of swiping a bag with 11 steals in 2014. 

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    The Cleveland Indians have no need to rush Lindor considering his age. However, the way he's playing in 2014, he should earn a promotion to Triple-A, if not the major leagues, before the end of the season. He should be ready to take over as Cleveland's everyday shortstop by Opening Day 2015.

3. Addison Russell, Oakland Athletics

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    Age: 20

    Current Minor League Level: Double-A

    2014 Stats: .714 (5-for-7), .714 OBP, 1.286 SLG, 2B, HR, 10 RBI, 7 SB

     

    The Track Record

    The Oakland Athletics snagged Addison Russell with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2012 draft.

    He spent his first full season as a professional playing for the Stockton Ports in the Cal League . At just 19 years old, the right handed hitter batted .275 with a .885 OPS. Russell also added 29 doubles, 10 triples and 17 home runs while totaling 21 steals.

    According to Marc Hulet of FanGraphs, Russell has the potential to become a "20-20 threat" in the major leagues. There's also no question that he can handle shortstop defensively, as he has an impressive arm and an expansive range. 

    In 2014, Russell has only appeared in two Double-A contests as he tore his hamstring back on April 4. 

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    Just when Russell makes it to Oakland is partially dependent on how soon he returns from the DL.

    According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the shortstop has been fielding grounders and taking batting practice, but there's still no time line for when he'll resume playing in the Texas League. With a strong second half, Russell could earn a September call-up to the big leagues and claim an everyday job next spring. 

2. Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs

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    Age: 21

    Current Minor League Level: Triple-A

    2014 Stats: .225 (34-for-151), .287 OBP, .437 SLG, 9 2B, 3B, 7 HR, 25 RBI, 4 SB

     

    The Track Record

    Last year, Javier Baez clubbed 37 home runs while splitting time between High-A and Double-A.

    That performance underscored the fact that the Chicago Cubs prospect is the most powerful shortstop in the minor leagues. This year, the 21-year-old is hitting just .225 in Triple-A, but he has been torching the Pacific Coast League as of late. In his last 10 games, Baez has totaled eight doubles and four home runs while posting a .927 slugging percentage. 

    Swings-and-misses remain an issue for the right-handed hitter. In 39 games, Baez has piled up 56 strikeouts. He also has all sorts of room for improvement in the field. Last year, Baez racked up 44 errors. 

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    Baez is beginning to build a compelling case to earn a late-season promotion to Wrigley Field. Starlin Castro stands in his way at shortstop, but the top prospect has the kind of electric power that will soon demand a spot in Chicago's lineup. 

1. Carlos Correa, Houston Astros

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    Age: 19

    Current Minor League Level: High-A

    2014 Stats: .305 (55-for-177, .307 OBP, .360 SLG, 9 2B, 3 3B,4  HR, 40 RBI, 10 SB

     

    The Track Record

    The No. 1 overall pick from the 2012 draft, Carlos Correa is cruising through the minor leagues.

    Just 19 years old, the shortstop is currently playing for the Houston Astros' High-A affiliate in the Cal League where he's hitting .305 with 40 RBI in 43 contests. The shortstop has been absolutely crushing right-handed pitching to the tune of a 1.012 OPS. 

    Last year, in his first full season as a professional, Correa totaled 33 doubles while playing in Low-A. At 6'4" there is a possibility that the Puerto Rican native could ultimately outgrow the shortstop position. 

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    Correa is on his way to earning a promotion to Double-A before the end of the 2014 campaign. At his current pace, the super prospect could win a spot in Houston's lineup by the middle of 2015.