There are three weeks remaining in the minor league season. In spite of that, we have seen a couple of promotions in the last week that will certainly affect the 2013 shortstop rankings. Typically, those that get called up in September remain prospects according to the major sources, but if you get called up and stick before then, you are generally regarded as a big league player.
Javier Baez– Chicago Cubs (A-A+)
Baez has struggled to stay on the field. That is the only drawback to this year. It is a major concern because a player of his caliber needs plate appearances. The strikeout to walk ratio shows that a lot needs to be learned, but so far he looks like he has all the tools to be a stud. He will be on next year’s list.
Xander Bogaerts– Boston Red Sox (A+)
The Red Sox should be rebuilding and Bogaerts has shown himself to be a big piece of the future. He doesn’t have the speed that Baez does, but he is light years ahead in terms of plate discipline. He will also be a part of next year’s list.
Nick Franklin– Seattle Mariners (AA-AAA)
Franklin met his match in AAA, so while the overall season has to be seen as a success, he won’t necessarily get the call in September. The Mariners don’t have to rush him because Brendan Ryan is more than capable overall. He might return to AAA for at least a part of 2013, but he has done more than enough to be on next year’s list.
Billy Hamilton– Cincinnati Reds (A+-AA)
At first glance, there seems to be no reason why Hamilton wouldn’t be the number one shortstop prospect in baseball. He is about to shatter the stolen base record, he will score more than 100 runs easily, and he has shown good patience at the plate. Still, some question his hit tool and others wonder how sound his fielding potential is, but there is nothing keeping him off this list for next season.
Hak-Ju Lee– Tampa Bay Rays (AA)
Former number one overall pick Timothy Beckham missed a large portion of the season due to pot suspension, but Lee simply didn’t take advantage of the opportunity. He didn’t play poorly exactly, but he didn’t distinguish himself either. He is still the better of the two prospects, but he has to prove that he is significantly better than Sean Rodriguez and that doesn’t appear likely right now.
Francisco Lindor– Cleveland Indians (A)
Playing full season ball is a huge step for any teenager. You aren’t looking for great numbers necessarily at this age, but simply a sign that a player can hold his own. Lindor certainly did that and then some. The most impressive feature of his game is his plate discipline. He’s certainly no Wade Boggs yet, but he is more than advanced for his age. He will be back on the list.
Manny Machado– Baltimore Orioles (AA-ML)
The Orioles called up Machado and he made his debut last night. The call up was certainly a surprise because Machado wasn’t exactly murdering AA pitching. He had an impressive debut (2 for 4), but time will tell whether the Orioles made this call too soon. Problems at third base probably hastened the call up.
Jurickson Profar– Texas Rangers (AA)
You can understand a player’s value by looking at how his organization values him. The Rangers could have easily obtained Zack Greinke or Cole Hamels if they had agreed to part with Profar. They did not want to deal him or Mike Olt. You could argue that he is more advanced than Manny Machado and yet he is stuck in AA because of the depth in the Rangers system.
Jean Segara– Milwaukee Brewers (AA-ML)
Nothing highlights the differences between organizational philosophy like these last two guys. Both Profar and Segura were blocked at the big league level. The Rangers desperately wanted to hang on to Profar while the Angels used Segura as the main course in a deal to get Zack Greinke. Which organization is right? Who knows at this point, but now Segura gets to ply his craft in Milwaukee.
Andrelton Simmons– Atlanta Braves (ML)
You have to feel for a guy like Paul Janish. He gets an opportunity to play in Cincinnati but gets replaced by a hotter prospect in Zack Cozart. Now, he’s playing regularly in Atlanta, but knows he will be giving way to Andrelton Simmons once he comes back from injury. Sometimes a brother simply can’t catch a break.