Grading the Shortstops
Shortstop, like second base or centerfield, is a position where sometimes the best players go because they actually are shortstops and other times they just play there. Capra is blessed with some future standouts currently working between second and third base; unfortunately, for some this is just a short stop on the way to a new position.
Future Gold Glovers
Players who could develop into defensive divas of the diamond, directly.
1. Wesley Smith, Tacoma Rookie, 1st year pro, 18 years old.
The seven teams that passed on Smith in the season seven draft stiffed the man who could become the most complete ballplayer in Capra, based on his projections. The high-school prospect is already impressive, but he could quickly develop into a seven-tool player with the talent he's been given. P-A-P Scouting says he will have above-average speed, baserunning, and power to go with exceptional fielding, range, contact, and plate discipline. He has the most to grow in his fielding, but Smith is a hard-worker who exudes class through his relationship with the press. With the way he trains and takes care of his body, there is also little chance that a serious injury could hijack this young man's career. He's a can't-miss future major leaguer for sure.
2. Chuck Coleman, Jacksonville AAA, 3rd year pro, 24 years old.
Coleman is the closest of his peers to winning major-league accolades, having completed a full AAA season with 40 doubles and 41 homers. The first overall pick in season five completely skipped A ball and has shown across-the-board improvement in all major categories every year. His possible downside is that he could miss the scouts' projections if he gets hurt at age 24 and beyond.
3. Luis Ramirez, Pawtucket AA, 2nd year pro, 21 years old.
Both Ramirez and Wesley Smith are from eastern Illinois, and they both have promising careers ahead of them. Ramirez is a puzzle because he can get to anything in the field, but they have to time him on the basepaths using a sundial. He'll probably not carry as high an average as Smith, but Ramirez continues to take a patient approach to hitting and will help his team somewhere in the neighborhood of his two-year season averages of 50 doubles, 28 home runs, 140 RBI, and 100 walks.
4. Paul Feng, Boston Low A, 2nd year pro, 20 years old.
Feng brings the possibilities of a slick-fielding speedster who can do just about anything a manager would ask his star shortstop to do. Clearly he outclassed his peers in low A in season seven, when he mashed 80 extra-base hits and batted .374. Odds are that his Silver Slugger Award will have lots of brothers and sisters in his trophy case when he's through. He's a bit of a hot-head, though.
5. Hank Griffith, Dover AA, 2nd year pro, 24 years old.
Griffith is another defensive wunderkind with some speed and a bit of offensive spark, but he hit a wall somewhere at AA in season seven. His glovework hasn't progressed as much as hoped and he posted an OPS almost 200 points below his career average in that half-season. To his credit, Griffith still had 30 doubles and almost 100 RBI.
6. Omar Olivares, Cleveland AAA, 2nd year pro, 20 years old.
Like another shortstop named Omar, Olivares could make a living off his fielding. Already he has shown the range and arm to put many big leaguers to shame. He also has some offensive merit; just not against southpaws. AAA hitting coach Steven Keats has been working with Olivares almost exclusively during portions of the offseason, as he sees something in Omar's swing that can't catch up to the lefties.
Position change, anyone?
Players are listed in alphabetical order by team city.
Derrek Greisinger, Albuquerque Rookie, 1st year pro, 20 years old.
Would make a good third baseman or a below-average shortstop. Probably fits somewhere in the top half of the Roadrunner lineup in season eleven.
William Cone, Atlanta AAA, 3rd year pro, 22 years old.
Range, arm, plate discipline, contact: yes. Glove, speed, power, hitting righthanders: no.
Ernest Wilkerson, El Paso Rookie, 1st year pro, 19 years old.
Ought to become a pretty good second baseman or centerfielder. He's a contact guy; no home runs last season.
Eric Courtney, Florida AA, 2nd year pro, 20 years old.
A Nomar Garciaparra-type in that he can get to anything hit to him, but will make mistakes on routine grounders sometimes. Not so effective against lefties.
Esteban Abreu, Helena High A, 2nd year pro, 20 years old.
He can rake, but probably from the hot corner instead of short. Flies.
Alfonso Cortez, Jackson Rookie, 1st year pro, 19 years old.
Could be a below-average shortstop or an outstanding third baseman in the field. Only played 20 games last year as a late signing.
Torey Aparicio, Las Vegas High A, 1st year pro, 23 years old.
Would be better suited for second or third base. Outperformed himself at low A vs. what he did in rookie.
Ernest Lamb, Salem AAA, 4th year pro, 23 years old.
I wish I still had this guy since he would be an awesome second baseman in the majors right now.
Ted Cormier, Scranton AAA, 5th year pro, 22 years old.
Not enough range for the bigs. Everything else looks major-league.
Sparky White, Syracuse Rookie, 1st year pro, 18 years old.
Projects to be one of the better third base prospects out there. Not a bad prize for the first team that didn't have an opportunity to draft Wesley Smith.
Danny Carlson, Vancouver AAA, 3rd year pro, 20 years old.
Even if he reaches all his potential, would be sub-par defensively. That doesn't mean he wouldn't be my shortstop.
Real Futures Team Summary:
Catcher Pasqual Mota, Jackson
First Baseman Carlos Pulido, Jacksonville
Second Baseman Russ Mercedes, Pawtucket
Third Baseman Javier Osuna, Jackson
Shortstop Javier Osuna, Tacoma