Pastornicky and Simmons thriving at shortstop

A little over a year ago, the Braves didn't have many shortstop prospects. But now it's a position of strength.

Atlanta shortstop Alex Gonzalez has been so good this year the Braves have to be thinking about re-signing him to a contract extension this winter when his current deal expires.

But if they chose not to, Atlanta will have some internal options that are making a case for a big league job in the future with solid seasons in the minor leagues.

Mississippi's Tyler Pastornicky is getting on the radar with a solid month of May. He's hitting .333 this month with three home runs and 10 RBI in 60 at bats.

Pastornicky is now hitting .301 for the season, with three home runs and 18 RBI. He's got a .344 on base percentage, with six stolen bases.

Pastornicky could be ready for the big leagues in 2012. Lynchburg's Andrelton Simmons may take a little more time to develop, but Simmons is showing that he might not be too far behind.

Simmons, Atlanta's second round pick last June, is hitting .364 in May with seven RBI and three stolen bases. For the season Simmons is now hitting .320 with 13 RBI and five stolen bases. Simmons also continues to play excellent defense at shortstop.

Edward Salcedo has continued his good work in May, hitting .288. He's played 10 games at shortstop this month as the Braves have rotated Salcedo, Matt Lipka and Elmer Reyes at the position. Lipka has hit only .175 and Reyes .135 in May, but Salcedo has followed up a great April with another solid month.

So if the Braves decide to part with Gonzalez, they may have some players in the organization to consider. But it also may tempt Atlanta to bring Gonzalez back for one more season to allow Pastornicky and Simmons to have more time to develop.

It's just always good to have options, and a year after having not many legit shortstop prospects at all, the Braves now have that at a very critical position.

Bill Shanks hosts The Bill Shanks Show on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 in Macon, GA and The Atlanta Baseball Talk Show. Shanks writes columns for The Macon Telegraph. Email Bill at and follow him on Twitter at

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