Analyzing the Shortstops

Over the last two seasons the shortstop position has become the deepest infield spot in the system. 2009 figures to be a very compelling season for shortstops as head-to-head competition is likely among teammates, all of which are either still young or new to the organization. Here is a look at how the competition currently stands.

This upcoming season, the shortstop position brings perhaps the greatest intrigue of any competitive spot across the farm system. There is youth and talent all over the place and tight competition for spots and playing time will be something to watch right out of the gate in Spring Training.

Although the system overall remains fairly pitching-heavy and there is plenty to observe about guys who could make their big league debut in 2009, do not discount what is happening at shortstop, as it will be one of the most compelling battles all season long.


Highest Ceiling:

Wilmer Flores: The 17-year-old's first season success is well documented as he torched the Appalachian League for a .310 average, eight home runs and 41 RBI. Yet, it was his physical maturity and hitting knowledge that had coaches and scouts alike feeling so positive about his future. It was his first full season at shortstop, and though the door to a possible position switch down the road must stay ajar, it is his offensive prowess that has established such high stock so early into his career.

He generated few walks (13) but kept his strikeouts very limited (37) in 280 at-bats and showed the ability to hit to all fields with established power that should increase as he fills out his 6-foot-3 frame. However, despite all the excitement swirling around him, Flores will have highs and lows in his future and how he grows will be a news as long as he remains on the farm. Flores' emergence, after his signing in 2007, was the most positive development of the past season.

Closest to the Majors:

Jose Coronado: Coronado does not stand a chance to supplant Jose Reyes in the starting lineup, but the 22-year-old finally may finally break through after five years of grinding work in the system. He comes off a successful Venezuelan Winter League stint in which he hit .308 in 27 games and appears all set to begin the new season in Triple-A.

At this stage in his career, the odds are stronger that he will not provide enough offense to warrant an everyday job in a increasingly offensive position, but Coronado has the glove to hold down a spot as a serviceable backup at either middle infield spot. He received a non-roster invite to big league camp in Spring Training which will give him the opportunity to make an impact and give the organization reason to believe he could be an source of in-season depth.

Best Defense:

Ruben Tejada: No one was pushed as aggressively in 2008 as Ruben Tejada and though his offense floundered in the Florida State League, his glove provided great stability. His footwork, the way he charges the ball, throws on the run and double-play feeds give him the tools to play defense at the highest level. There are varying reports about his arm strength, ranging from average to above average, but he nonetheless has enough velocity to stay at shortstop throughout his career.

Matt Bouchard: When discussing shortstops arm strength, Matt Bouchard ranks right at the top. Observers will point to his limited offensive output over two injury-plagued seasons as reasons to lower his stock, but he possesses a big league glove right now and for a shortstop that trait will carry one a long way. His arm strength, terrific athleticism and makeup that matches the title of a "defensive leader" are the reasons why internal stock is so high on him.

Roster spots and playing time could have Bouchard see some time at third base in 2009, but as noted in his scouting report, he would have been a real mover this past season if not for injury.

Most Likely to Switch Positions:

Reese Havens: Havens ideal left-handed swing could alone be enough to carry him to the big leagues. The tempo, balance and follow through of his swing are traits rarely found in young hitters, even with collegiate experience. He possesses an easy, fluid motion but his ability to keep the bat head back and then explode through the zone, thanks to excellent hand control, gives him the means to drive the ball with minimal effort. Home runs may take some time to develop, but he currently possesses the tools to be a high-average hitter who should rack up extra-bases in the large parks of the Florida State League.

One can throw out the .247 average he posted in Brooklyn. Barring the injury bug which frequently nipped him last season, Havens should achieve a large amount success at the plate because of how he handles the bat.

That being said, there are questions as to Havens' future in the field. He remains a serviceable option at the lower reaches of the farm, but average arm strength and lack of mobility will likely lead to a position switch as he moves up the farm. Murmurs about a move to second base have popped up, but Havens best bet is to hit his way to the big leagues and force the organization to find a spot for him. If he never settles on a full-time position, Havens would make for a very valuable utility fielder or bat off the bench.

Juan Lagares: As aggressively as the organization has pushed others on this list, it is easy to overlook just how fast Lagares was promoted. The 19-year-old went from the Dominican Summer League to the South Atlantic League from 2006 to 2007 and has since battled injuries along the way, including a shoulder injury which delayed his start to last season until early June.

While his offensive showing was disappointing at a combined .253/3 HR/24 RBI, he saw time at third base for the first time in his career during his stint with Brooklyn. That move could signal more shifts in 2009. There are ideas of a future on the hot corner or second base, but do not discount left field as his destination. At that spot, he could be more successful due to his athleticism and above average arm.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nThis upcoming season, the shortstop position brings perhaps the greatest intrigue of any competitive spot across the farm system. There is youth and talent all over the place and tight competition for spots and playing time will be something to watch right out of the gate in Spring Training.
\r\n
\r\nAlthough the system overall remains fairly pitching-heavy and there is plenty to observe about guys who could make their big league debut in 2009, do not discount what is happening at shortstop, as it will be one of the most compelling battles all season long.
\r\n
\r\n
\r\nHighest Ceiling:
\r\n
\r\nWilmer Flores: The 17-year-old's first season success is well documented as he torched the Appalachian League for a .310 average, eight home runs and 41 RBI. Yet, it was his physical maturity and hitting knowledge that had coaches and scouts alike feeling so positive about his future. It was his first full season at shortstop, and though the door to a possible position switch down the road must stay ajar, it is his offensive prowess that has established such high stock so early into his career.
\r\n
\r\nHe generated few walks (13) but kept his strikeouts very limited (37) in 280 at-bats and showed the ability to hit to all fields with established power that should increase as he fills out his 6-foot-3 frame. However, despite all the excitement swirling around him, Flores will have highs and lows in his future and how he grows will be a news as long as he remains on the farm. Flores' emergence, after his signing in 2007, was the most positive development of the past season.
\r\n
\r\nClosest to the Majors:
\r\n
\r\nJose Coronado: Coronado does not stand a chance to supplant Jose Reyes in the starting lineup, but the 22-year-old finally may finally break through after five years of grinding work in the system. He comes off a successful Venezuelan Winter League stint in which he hit .308 in 27 games and appears all set to begin the new season in Triple-A.
\r\n
\r\nAt this stage in his career, the odds are stronger that he will not provide enough offense to warrant an everyday job in a increasingly offensive position, but Coronado has the glove to hold down a spot as a serviceable backup at either middle infield spot. He received a non-roster invite to big league camp in Spring Training which will give him the opportunity to make an impact and give the organization reason to believe he could be an source of in-season depth.
\r\n
\r\nBest Defense:
\r\n
\r\nRuben Tejada: No one was pushed as aggressively in 2008 as Ruben Tejada and though his offense floundered in the Florida State League, his glove provided great stability. His footwork, the way he charges the ball, throws on the run and double-play feeds give him the tools to play defense at the highest level. There are varying reports about his arm strength, ranging from average to above average, but he nonetheless has enough velocity to stay at shortstop throughout his career.
\r\n
\r\nMatt Bouchard: When discussing shortstops arm strength, Matt Bouchard ranks right at the top. Observers will point to his limited offensive output over two injury-plagued seasons as reasons to lower his stock, but he possesses a big league glove right now and for a shortstop that trait will carry one a long way. His arm strength, terrific athleticism and makeup that matches the title of a \"defensive leader\" are the reasons why internal stock is so high on him.
\r\n
\r\nRoster spots and playing time could have Bouchard see some time at third base in 2009, but as noted in his scouting report, he would have been a real mover this past season if not for injury.
\r\n
\r\nMost Likely to Switch Positions:
\r\n
\r\nReese Havens: Havens ideal left-handed swing could alone be enough to carry him to the big leagues. The tempo, balance and follow through of his swing are traits rarely found in young hitters, even with collegiate experience. He possesses an easy, fluid motion but his ability to keep the bat head back and then explode through the zone, thanks to excellent hand control, gives him the means to drive the ball with minimal effort. Home runs may take some time to develop, but he currently possesses the tools to be a high-average hitter who should rack up extra-bases in the large parks of the Florida State League.
\r\n
\r\nOne can throw out the .247 average he posted in Brooklyn. Barring the injury bug which frequently nipped him last season, Havens should achieve a large amount success at the plate because of how he handles the bat.
\r\n
\r\nThat being said, there are questions as to Havens' future in the field. He remains a serviceable option at the lower reaches of the farm, but average arm strength and lack of mobility will likely lead to a position switch as he moves up the farm. Murmurs about a move to second base have popped up, but Havens best bet is to hit his way to the big leagues and force the organization to find a spot for him. If he never settles on a full-time position, Havens would make for a very valuable utility fielder or bat off the bench.
\r\n
\r\nJuan Lagares: As aggressively as the organization has pushed others on this list, it is easy to overlook just how fast Lagares was promoted. The 19-year-old went from the Dominican Summer League to the South Atlantic League from 2006 to 2007 and has since battled injuries along the way, including a shoulder injury which delayed his start to last season until early June.
\r\n
\r\nWhile his offensive showing was disappointing at a combined .253/3 HR/24 RBI, he saw time at third base for the first time in his career during his stint with Brooklyn. That move could signal more shifts in 2009. There are ideas of a future on the hot corner or second base, but do not discount left field as his destination. At that spot, he could be more successful due to his athleticism and above average arm.
\r\n
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