Baseball's Top 10 Shortstop Prospects

The shortstop position has evolved over the years. Gliding across the infield like Luis Aparicio or making the spectacular play of an Ozzie Smith is no longer the only coveted trait. Shortstops are hitting and hitting for power. Where does your team's prospects fit on the list and do they have hitting ability to make an impact?

1. Starlin CastroChicago Cubs

A gifted player that makes adjustments quickly, Castro surpassed all expectations in 2009 with his ability to not only handle but excel against competition five to six years his elder. He has the makings of an All-Star shortstop that has power and base running skills to go along with strong defensive skills.

2. Alcides EscobarMilwaukee Brewers

An absolute wizard with the glove, Escobar brings amazing contact ability and good speed to the table as well. With J.J. Hardy out of the way in Milwaukee, the time is now for Escobar to make a name for himself at the big league level. He has improved every year.

3. Dee GordonLos Angeles Dodgers

Keeping the ball on the ground to use his pimrary weapon – speed – has been essential to his development. Any ball is a bang-bang play with Gordon running. He has impressive base running instincts and could lead the league in stolen bases one day. He does need to improve his overall pitch selection. Relatively new to the game, Gordon figures to steadily improve as tucks more experience under his belt.

4. Tim Beckham – Tampa Bay Rays

Beckham is still a tools freak on the field, and scouts are seeing flashes of those tools translating into game action. Beckham is still very raw and has a ways to go, but his considerable ceiling is difficult to ignore. Improving pitch recognition will be critical to his overall development.

5. Danny EspinosaWashington Nationals

A switch-hitter with power potential from both sides, Espinosa has a firm understanding of the strike zone and drives the ball with backspin when he hits his pitch. He can become long to the ball, which will drive his strikeout numbers up, but the additional power is welcome.

6. Wilmer FloresNew York Mets

The Mets have historically pushed young Latin players very aggressively, and Flores is no different. He handled an aggressive assignment well in 2009, and his tools portray a potential star player that will use the entire field as his playground. He doesn't have great range and may profile better at second or third base.

7. Jiovanni MierHouston Astros

A gifted athlete, Mier has speed on the bases and in the field, with good hands and a very strong arm. He looks the part of a true shortstop, and his line-drive stroke should give him good doubles power in the end.

8. Carlos TriunfelSeattle Mariners

Lost for much of 2009 due to a left leg injury suffered in a collision, Triunfel has a line drive stroke that is conducive to hitting the gaps. When he uses the whole field and sits back on pitches, Triunfel can be a high average hitter. He has a plus arm but scouts question his lateral range.

9. Jeff BianchiKansas City Royals

The Royals have a need at shortstop, and Bianchi has the tools to at least get a look there in 2010. He should hit for average and could fit nicely near the top of an MLB lineup; though he needs to get on-base and show some gap power more regularly.

10. Hak-Ju Lee - Chicago Cubs

A slap hitter that has exceptional speed, Lee does a good job of keeping the ball on the ground or hitting it on a line. He takes advantage of strong pitch recognition and patience and is a plus defender with lateral range.

2010 Watchlist:

Ian Desmond – Washington Nationals

Desmond broke out in a big way in 2009, hitting well across three levels, including a strong run with the Nationals late in the year, and he has a chance to show average or better tools across the board.

Lance ZawadzkiSan Diego Padres

A switch-hitter with five-tool potential, Zawadzki will get into trouble when he starts looking for the long ball. He can be an annual threat to hit for average and some power while stealing plenty of bags to go with his plus arm.

Grant GreenOakland Athletics

Green's stock fell after what many considered a disappointing season at USC, but he still has fantastic tools across the board and he could be an All-Star in Oakland.

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