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Deep Dive: shortstop edition, part 4

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A snapshot of the top free agent shortstops, as well as the best projected shortstops in next year’s draft

Rebel Yell: Bryson Stott is considered the top college shortstop available in next year’s Draft.
Bryson Stott (@stott_ya10)

“Deep Dive” focuses on the depth of each position in the White Sox organization. Each position will be a four-part series:

  1. Depth in the lower levels (Dominican through Kannapolis)
  2. Depth in the higher levels (Winston-Salem through Charlotte)
  3. Under the Radar-type detail on one of the White Sox players at that position
  4. Free-agent options at that position, plus sneak peeks into available players in the upcoming 2019 MLB Draft.

So, finally, let’s take a look at free agent shortstops, as well as those who could be available in the first few rounds of the upcoming MLB draft.

Free Agents

Unlike third base, shortstop shouldn’t be a priority this off-season. Tim Anderson showed significant improvement after a difficult 2017, and he appears to be a mainstay for the next few years. Jose Rondon is the team’s current backup, while Yolmer Sanchez can shift from third if needed and Leury Garcia may be able to fill in as well if absolutely needed. With that said, this is a list of this year’s free agent class in descending order of bWAR.

(age as of April 1, 2019)

Manny Machado
Los Angeles Dodgers
2018 bWAR: 5.7
Slash/power: .297/.367/.538, with 37 HR, 107 RBIs and 14 SB
Age: 26

Also played third base.

Marwin Gonzalez
Houston Astros
2018 bWAR: 2.5
Slash/power: .247/.324/.409, with 16 HR and 68 RBIs
Age: 30

Played all positions except pitcher and catcher for 2018. Played more at left field than anywhere else.

Freddy Galvis
San Diego Padres
2018 bWAR: 2.3
Slash/power: .248/.299/.380 with 13 HR and 67 RBIs
Age: 29

Also played second base.

Jose Iglesias
Detroit Tigers
2018 bWAR: 2.2
Slash/power: .269/.310/.389 with 5 HR, 48 RBIs, and 15 SB
Age: 29

Also played second base.

Adeiny Hechavarria
New York Yankees
2018 bWAR: 0.8
Slash/power: .247/.279/.345, with 6 HR and 35 RBIs
Age: 29

Also played second base.

Asdrubal Cabrera
Philadelphia Phillies
2018 bWAR: 0.7
Slash/power: .262/.315/.381 with 23 HR and 75 RBIs
Age: 33

Also played second base and third base.

Pete Kozma
Detroit Tigers
2018 bWAR: 0.5
Slash/power: .217/.236/.348, with 1 HR and 8 RBIs
Age: 30

Also played third base and second base.

Jordy Mercer
Pittsburgh Pirates
2018 bWAR: 0.1
Slash/power: .215/.316/.458, with 6 HR and 39 RBIs
Age: 32

Gregorio Petit
Minnesota Twins
2018 bWAR: 0.0
Slash/power: .246/.313/.279, with 0 HR and 3 RBIs
Age: 34

Played all other infield positions.

Alcides Escobar
Kansas City Royals
2018 bWAR: -0.7
Slash/power: .231/.279/.313, with 4 HR and 34 RBIs
Age: 32

Also played third base, center field, and second base.

Eric Sogard
Milwaukee Brewers
2018 bWAR: -0.9
Slash/power: .134/.241/.165, with 0 HR and 1 RBIs
Age: 32

Also played second base and left field.

Jose Reyes
New York Mets
2018 bWAR: -1.0
Slash/power: .189/.260/.320, with 4 HR and 16 RBIs
Age: 35

Also played third base and second base.

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2019 MLB Draft prospects

I will be doing a more comprehensive list next year, so this is just a preliminary look at shortstops the White Sox could draft in the first round and beyond. The number in parentheses before the name is where FanGraphs ranked each player as of October 25. Of course, players may move up or down the charts depending upon how well they do in various offseason tournaments and upcoming collegiate/prep seasons. The shortstop class this year seems exceptional, especially on the prep side.

College

(3) Bryson Stott
6´3´´
195 pounds
School: UNLV

Stott had an especially solid sophomore season with the Runnin’ Rebels, slashing .365/.442/.556 with four homers, 32 RBIs, 14-of-16 stolen bases, 32 walks and 18 strikeouts. He’s enjoyed success in the Cape Cod League, which uses wood bats. His plate discipline is terrific and he’s got good speed; how he advances in the power department may indicate whether he’s a top-five pick, or if he drops out of the Top 20.

(8) Greg Jones
5´11´´
170 pounds
School: UNC-Wilmington

Jones didn’t wow anyone with his freshman stats, but his tools seem impossible to ignore. Last year for the Seahawks, he hit .278/.412/.380 with four homers, 21 RBIs, 16-of-20 stolen bases, 33 walks (11.66%) and 70 strikeouts (24.73%). Naturally, one should expect better results as a sophomore, but the whiffs are a bit disconcerting. Some scouts believe he will be a center fielder, and he is said to have blazing speed. If he continues to strike out in large quantities, however, don’t be surprised to see a significant drop in Jones’s draft status; after all, shortstop is perhaps the best and deepest position in this draft.

(13) Logan Davidson
6´3´´
185 pounds
School: Clemson

Davidson has been remarkably consistent in his first two seasons with Clemson. For the Tigers, he’s slashed .289/.398/.509 with a combined 27 homers, 87 RBIs, 20 stolen bases, 85 walks (14.31%) and 121 strikeouts (20.37%). There are valid concerns about his long swing, which has caused a reduction in average and spike in whiffs. He’s not afraid to work the account, and with him being a switch-hitter, there’s a lot to like here. He reminds me a bit of Jay Bell.

(29) Will Holland

5´10´´
175 pounds
School: Auburn

Holland put together a solid season for the Tigers in 2018, slashing .313/.406/.530 in 249 at-bats with 12 homers, 52 RBIs, nine stolen bases, 28 walks (9.46%) and 49 strikeouts (16.55%). He can make the sensational play at times, but sometimes struggles with the easy one. He has been called “toolsy,” which is a dirty word for most Sox fans. However, with a bit of experience, it’s possible Holland could refine his game and reach his potential. It will be interesting to see what he can do in 2018 against the best the SEC has to offer.

David Hamilton
5´11´´
170 pounds
School: Texas

Hamilton had an outstanding sophomore season with the Longhorns last year, slashing .291/.404/.445, with five homers, 37 RBIs, 31 stolen bases, 43 walks and 40 strikeouts in 220 at-bats. He improved in all facets from his sophomore season. With continued improvements, it’s easy to see Hamilton become first-round material. He’s a solid defensive player with a solid arm, and with his blazing speed, is certainly an exciting player to watch.

High School

(2) C.J. Abrams
6´2´´
182 pounds
School: Blessed Trinity Catholic H.S., Roswell, Ga.
Verbal commitment: Alabama

To say Abrams is a dynamic talent is like saying the sky is blue. The only weakness in this left-handed hitter’s game seems to be his relative lack of power, but with his build, expect him to improve in that area. He’s an outstanding runner (6.29 in the 60, 4.19 on a turn on a triple, runs sub-4.0’s home-to-first with little obvious effort). According to PerfectGame, “He’s got a smooth and fluid swing, very good barrel control with loose hands, gap power, going to lead some leagues in triples.” Abrams has a short arm action, quick hands and a fast exchange with excellent range, allowing his arm to play up.

(9) Bobby Witt, Jr.
6´1´´
185 pounds
School: Colleyville Heritage H.S., Colleyville, Texas
Verbal commitment: Oklahoma

A five-tool talent out of Texas and the son of a former 16-year major leaguer, Bobby Witt Jr. has an expansive toolset that includes plus power, speed, arm strength and defensive ability at shortstop. In fact some scouts give him 60 grades for all the above tools. How high Witt Jr. goes in the draft next spring will depend on the conviction that scouts have in his hit tool, as evaluators have questions about the amount of swing-and-miss in his game after his performance this summer. His said to have close to 70-grade power and routinely impacts the game defensively thanks to his elite hands, quick footwork and the ability to throw on the run and from multiple arm slots. If he improves his contact this year, he may be the first pick in 2019.

(16) Matthew Lugo
6´1´´
185 pounds
School: Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, Manati, P.R.
Verbal commitment: Miami

Lugo has a projectable athletic build. He’s a 6.46 runner, very light on his feet defensively, has a very quick first step, and is well-balanced defensively, with smooth hands and a quick transfer. He’s got sound mechanics and a fluid swing. Not only did he attend Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy — he also happens to be Beltran’s nephew.

(18) Myles Austin
6´3´´
177 pounds
School: Westlake H.S., Atlanta, Ga.
Verbal commitment: Alabama

The Crimson Tide has two of the top recruits in the country in Abrams and Austin; sadly for them, both look to be rolling toward a first round selection in the upcoming MLB Draft. A wiry, infielder with plenty of looseness and athleticism, Austin is a projectable hitter out of Atlanta with solid raw power, and should provide more as he fills out a big frame. He does have some swing-and-miss in his game, but there’s enough impact potential and bat speed to give him a high offensive ceiling. Defensively, he shows middle infield actions and quickness, but could profile better as a second baseman due to less-than-average arm strength. He’s a plus runner (6.53) with long, smooth strides on the bases.

(28) Nasim Nuñez
5´9´´
160 pounds
School: Collins Hill H.S., Suwanee, Ga.
Verbal commitment: Clemson

One of the elite defensive shortstops in the 2019 high school class, Nuñez is a slick-fielding, diminutive switch-hitter. Despite his size, he’s got a plus arm, quick hands, and a knack for throwing accurately from multiple arm angles and positions on the field. Offense will be the question with Nuñez, who has a swing that’s more natural from the right side (with limited power), and is a plus runner.

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Summary

Acquiring a free-agent shortstop via trade or free agency shouldn’t be a priority, since Tim Anderson is locked in through 2024 with options in the final two years. The Sox also have depth, in Jose Rondon and perhaps Yolmer Sanchez, in case Anderson gets injured. However, this doesn’t preclude the White Sox from drafting a shortstop in the first couple of rounds. Shortstops are the most athletic players on the diamond (with the possible exception of center fielders), and when teams draft as high as the Sox do, they typically draft more on talent and less on need. Certainly catcher Adley Rutschman is a favorite if he drops to the third pick; if not, several of the shortstops listed above could be considered for that pick. Abrams and Witt, Jr. seem to be terrific options right now, but one can’t predict if they’ll still be the top options by the time of next June’s MLB Draft.