The Mets are blessed with several prospects - Chase Lambin, Chris Basak, Anderson Hernandez, Sean Henry, Ryan Coultas, and Hector Pellot - who have the ability to play shortstop but for one reason or another, have transitioned to become second basemen. All of these players could see significant time at the shortstop position in 2006, but all are projected to see a majority of their time at second base.
Jose Coronado: Coronado, who'll turn 20-years old within the first couple of weeks of the 2006 season, has quietly become an organizational favorite with the Mets. Blessed with tremendous range at shortstop, sure hands, and a very good arm, many scouts believe he's advanced enough defensively to play in the Major Leagues right now. A switch-hitter, Coronado has good gap power and at 6'1" and 180 pounds, he has a very projectable body which should allow him to hit for adequate power once he fills out.
Seemingly ticketed for Hagerstown in the South Atlantic League in 2006 heading into this past offseason, Coronado has impressed the Mets' brass so much in Spring Training that the latest word is he'll break camp with the St. Lucie Mets as one of the youngest players in the Florida State League. The progression of his offensive game will be the ultimate deciding factor in his overall worth, but obviously the Mets are sold on his abilities.
Closest to the Majors
Corey Ragsdale: One of the more athletic players in the Mets' farm system, like Coronado, the Mets love Ragsdale's defensive abilities at shortstop. He has plus range in the field and a cannon-like arm to boot. The knock on his game since being drafted in the 2nd round of the 2001 MLB Draft has been his lack of contact hitting, an area of his game that he has improved significantly over the last two seasons.
Ragsdale has very good speed on the base paths and plus power potential for a middle infielder. Despite boasting just a .208 career batting average, he has been promoted pretty consistently because of his defensive abilities. He'll most likely open up the 2006 season in AA-Binghamton with a strong possibility of seeing some time at AAA-Norfolk before the end of the year. From there, he'll be just a stone's throw away from Shea Stadium.
Emmanuel Garcia: Not many players have the wonderful professional debut that Garcia had with the Gulf Coast League Mets in 2005. He was among the league leaders in batting average (.339), runs (43), and stolen bases (17). Scouts are higher on Garcia's offensive potential than they are on his defensive abilities at shortstop however, prompting many to believe he'll eventually move over to second base, a position he played for six games last year.
Many doubt he has the range to play defense at the shortstop at the higher minor league levels and beyond, but he'll be out to prove his critics wrong. Even with Coronado now apparently heading to St. Lucie, Garcia is still not considered a lock to break camp with the Hagerstown Suns in 2006. If he can continue to hit his way up the minor league ladder however, he'll certainly remain in the shortstop discussions as a possible sleeper candidate.
Need to Make Their Move
Wilson Batista: After making 38 errors in 2004, the prevailing thought heading into the 2005 season was that Batista was going to make a permanent move over to second base. That transition never really took place and he wound up committing 34 errors in two minor league stops in 2005. He doesn't have the greatest range for shortstop and he often times makes routine plays look extremely difficult.
Offensively, Batista swings a potent bat for a middle infielder, showing a good combination of power and speed. He isn't a great base runner however and he'll have to make marked improvements in his defensive work at shortstop to remain there. He's both an intriguing and yet frustrating prospect at the current time. Batista has some ability, but he'll have to cut down on his numerous mistakes and refine his game.
The Jury is Still Out
Jonathan Malo: Malo, in a lot of ways, is a lot like Emmanuel Garcia. He's a very patient hitter in the batter's box and he shows flashes of good power and speed. However, he too doesn't have the ideal range for the shortstop position, a big reason why he saw action in 15 games at second base for the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2005.
Like Garcia, many scouts aren't sold on Malo's complete game and he's considered more of a fringe prospect at the current time. At 22-years old, Malo is going to have to find his way into the long-season leagues in order to force his way higher up on the shortstop prospect depth chart for the Mets.
Sizing Up the Shortstop Prospects
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