The 2016 shortstop rankings are broken into two parts: the top 10 prospects in order and the next 12 prospects in alphabetical order. As always, these rankings are done from a scouting perspective but with fantasy baseball in mind, generally focusing on standard 5x5 league categories – though other statistics (e.g., OBP) are considered – and long-term, dynasty-league value.
The Top 10:
1. J.P. Crawford, Philadelphia Phillies (Double-A Reading Fightin Phils)
2016 Stats: 22 G, .277/.417/.398, 17 R, 4 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 4 SB, 20 BB, 17 K
An oblique strain kept Crawford off the field until early May last year, but he made up for the late start with an outstanding showing over 21 games at High-A Clearwater to earn a quick promotion to Double-A Reading. The 21-year-old’s game continued to improve at the more advanced level, where he showed good pop and advanced plate discipline, with more walks than strikeouts. A left-handed hitter, Crawford has the potential for above-average hitting talent thanks to his advanced bat-to-ball skills and mature approach. He projects for fringe-average power but should always be a consistent source of doubles and triples. On the other side of the ball, Crawford will be able to remain at shortstop for the duration of his career, making his top-of-the-order offensive profile even more valuable.
Impact categories: AVG, OBP, R, SB
2. Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies (Low-A Asheville Tourists)
2016 Stats: 22 G, .345/.427/.595, 21 R, 6 2B, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 2 SB, 9 BB, 16 K
Billed as the highest-ceiling talent in the 2015 draft, Rodgers was the first high school player to come off the board, going to the Rockies with the No. 3 overall pick and signing for a franchise-record $5.5 million. He had an inconsistent pro debut in the Rookie-level Pioneer League as he dealt with hip, foot and hamstring injuries, but he still posted respectable numbers, hitting .273/.340/.420 in 37 games. At 6-feet, 180 pounds, Rodgers is an aggressive hitter with plus bat speed and good raw power, projecting for above-average in-game power at maturity. And while he may not be an electric defender at shortstop, Rodgers is an impressive athlete with excellent footwork, smooth actions and a great feel for the position. He’ll need considerable time in the minors in order to develop on both sides of the ball, but the final product could be an All-Star-caliber, offensive-minded shortstop who is an elite fantasy producer.
Impact categories: AVG, HR, RBI, R
3. Trea Turner, Washington Nationals (Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs)
2016 Stats: 24 G, .323/.402/.462, 24 R, 5 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 10 SB, 13 BB, 17 K
Selected by the Padres with the No. 13 overall pick in the 2014 draft, Turner hit .322/.370/.458 in 116 games for three minor league clubs last season to earn a big league callup to Washington on Aug. 21. He appeared in 27 games for the Nationals following the promotion but logged only 44 plate appearances, hitting .225 with one home run in that span. Turner has cleaned up his hitting mechanics since turning pro and now drives the ball with more consistency, but he’s still unlikely to ever offer much in the way of power. Defensively, the 22-year-old is also an excellent athlete with legitimate plus-plus speed and the defensive chops to handle either shortstop or second base. Though he might be kept in the minors until June for service-time reasons, Turner is poised to make an impact as the Nationals’ shortstop at some point in 2016.
Impact categories: AVG, R, SB
4. Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves (Double-A Mississippi Braves)
2016 Stats: 24 G, .333/.434/.544, 15 R, 13 2B, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 7 SB, 15 BB, 13 K
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, Swanson signed with the Diamondbacks for $6.5 million shortly before the deadline. His career with the D-backs was ultimately short-lived, though, as he was shipped off to Atlanta during the offseason as part of the Shelby Miller trade. The 22-year-old is an advanced hitter with plus speed, and he’s begun to tap into his power during games more consistently in the last year. The Braves recently promoted Swanson to Double-A after his excellent month of April at High-A Carolina, where he hit .333/.441/.526 in 21 games. If all goes as planned with his development, Swanson should be Atlanta’s starting shortstop by the 2017 season -- with Ozzie Albies shifting to second base full time -- if not sooner.
Impact categories: AVG, R
5. Alex Bregman, Houston Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks)
2016 Stats: 13 G, .340/.431/.660, 11 R, 2B, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 2 SB, 6 BB, 5 K
The Astros landed the best pure hitter in the 2015 draft when they selected Bregman with the No. 2 overall pick. The 22-year-old lived up to the reputation in his professional debut, hitting .294/.366/.415 with 21 extra-base hits and 13 steals in 66 games between Low-A Quad Cities and High-A Lancaster. Bregman is a safe bet to hit for average thanks to his outstanding hand-eye coordination and bat-to-ball skills, and his advanced strike-zone awareness and selective approach should allow him to reach base at a high clip. Some scouts question whether he’ll be able to remain at shortstop, pointing to his size and only slightly above-average speed as being better suited to second base.
Impact categories: AVG, OBP, R
6. Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox (Triple-A Charlotte Knights)
2016 Stats: 21 G, .239/.263/.272, 9 R, 3 2B, 6 RBI, 4 SB, 3 BB, 26 K
Anderson took another step forward last season by pacing the Double-A Southern League with 160 hits, 79 runs and 49 stolen bases, while also ranking third with a .312 average and 12 triples. Anderson’s best talent is plus speed, and he uses it to impact the game on both sides of the ball. At the plate, the right-handed hitter has excellent bat speed and barrel awareness, but the approach is still dangerously aggressive and has the potential to be exploited by upper-level arms. Although it’s worked for him so far, it’s unrealistic to believe Anderson will hit for a high average in the major leagues given the disparity in his strikeout and walk rates to begin his career. Anderson stands to benefit from another full year in the minors refining his game, but there are myriad scenarios that could have him suiting up for the White Sox earlier than expected.
Impact categories: AVG, R, SB
7. Franklin Barreto, Oakland Athletics (Double-A Midland RockHounds)
2016 Stats: 24 G, .276/.330/.408, 15 R, 4 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 7 SB, 5 BB, 25 K
The key return from Toronto last offseason in the Josh Donaldson blockbuster, Barreto, 20, bypassed the Low-A level entirely upon joining the A’s system, making the jump from the Short Season Northwest League directly to the High-A California League. The right-handed-hitting shortstop had a strong campaign as the league’s second-youngest regular, hitting .302/.333/.500 with 13 home runs and 22 doubles in 90 games, but his season ended prematurely in late July when he landed on the disabled list with a wrist contusion. At 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, Barreto projects for at least average power thanks to his outstanding bat speed and explosive swing, and his use of the whole field indicates he’ll hit for some average, too. His defense at shortstop isn’t as advanced as his bat, evidenced by his career-high 34 errors in 84 games in 2015, although it’s worth keeping in mind that high error totals for young shortstops at advanced levels is a fairly common occurrence. At worst, Barreto might have to shift across the infield or relocate to center field, though such a move shouldn’t detract from his potential at the plate.
Impact categories: AVG, HR, R
8. Jorge Mateo, New York Yankees (High-A Tampa Yankees)
2016 Stats: 24 G, .330/.396/.521, 21 R, 3 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 19 RBI, 8 SB, 10 BB, 23 K
Mateo’s elite speed was on full display in his 2015 full-season debut, when he swiped a minor league-leading 82 bases in 117 games between the South Atlantic and Florida State Leagues. The 20-year-old shortstop also proved that there is more to his game than simply speed, as he hit for average and accrued a healthy number of extra-base hits and walks. As with most prospects who pile up steals in the minors, Mateo’s ability to run wild at the highest level will be determined by his hitting talent and on-base skills.
Impact categories: AVG, R, SB
9. Orlando Arcia, Milwaukee Brewers (Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox)
2016 Stats: 21 G, .313/.344/.458, 12 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 4 SB, 5 BB, 9 K
Arcia is one of the premier defensive shortstops in the minor leagues, but it was his breakout campaign at the plate in 2015 that has everyone buzzing ahead of his imminent big league debut. In his first taste of Double-A, Arcia, 20 at the time, led the Southern League with 37 doubles and ranked fifth with a .307 average. He also finished among the leaders with 157 hits (second), 52 extra-base hits (third), 74 runs (fifth) and 68 RBI (fifth). Arcia is a well-rounded player who offers plus defense at a premium position, and when paired with his offensive upside, it could make him a perennial All-Star. The 21-year-old is going to be Milwaukee’s starting shortstop sometime this season; it is just a matter of how early in the season the Brewers make such a move.
Impact categories: AVG, R, SB
10. Willy Adames, Tampa Bay Rays (Double-A Montgomery Biscuits)
2016 Stats: 23 G, .247/.354/.471, 19 R, 5 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 1 SB, 14 BB, 22 K
Adames opened the 2015 season – his first full season in the Rays’ system after coming over from Detroit in the David Price trade the previous year – in the High-A Florida State League, where he put up impressive numbers in April and May before suffering a bone bruise in his elbow that limited him the rest of the way. Adames has plus bat speed and a natural feel for hitting, and scouts envision him developing at least average power as he tightens his approach and becomes more selective. The 20-year-old should be able to stick at shortstop thanks to his excellent instincts and first step, slick glove and plus arm, although his defensive profile would also work at third base. Moved up to Double-A for the 2016 season, Adames could be on his way towards a breakout campaign if he can stay healthy.
Impact categories: HR, R, RBI
The Next 12 (Alphabetical Order):
Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves (Triple-A Gwinnett Braves)
Christian Arroyo, San Francisco Giants (Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels)
Gavin Cecchini, New York Mets (Triple-A Las Vegas 51s)
Lucius Fox, San Francisco Giants (Low-A Augusta GreenJackets)
Nick Gordon, Minnesota Twins (High-A Fort Myers Miracle)
Javier Guerra, San Diego Padres (High-A Lake Elsinore Storm)
Drew Jackson, Seattle Mariners (High-A Bakersfield Blaze)
Gilbert Lara, Milwaukee Brewers (N/A)
Raul Mondesi, Kansas City Royals (Double-A Northwest Arkansas)
Daniel Robertson, Tampa Bay Rays (Triple-A Durham Bulls)
Amed Rosario, New York Mets (High-A St. Lucie Mets)
Gleyber Torres, Chicago Cubs (High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans)