Position Projections: Shortstop

With the Tigers having a shortstop coming off a career year and MVP caliber season, as well as a young second baseman perfectly capable of playing the position, the Tigers aren't in dire need. But that hasn't kept Tony Giarratano from emerging as a prospect. Find out where Giarratano is pegged, as well as the rest of the organization's shortstops.

Starting in AAA, it was originally expected Anderson Hernandez would take the spot. But Hernandez was moved in the offseason for Vance Wilson. Without Hernandez, the Tigers still have options.

One option could be Donald Kelly, who impressed many in 2003, but missed most of the 2004 with injuries. Kelly is capable of playing all four infield positions, but was originally selected as a shortstop. He's proven to be healthy this spring, and could get the opportunity to play there everyday with Toledo.

But, it's certainly not set in stone. Part of that is because of the emergence of Tony Giarratano, one of the organization's top prospects, and someone quickly becoming one of the top prospects in all of baseball. Giarratano impressed everyone in the organization with a solid spring training, hitting (and hitting well) against big league pitching. Giarratano's showing has left open the possibility of him going straight to Toledo after just a half-season at each class-A stop.

But, it is still more likely that Giarratano will go to AA Erie rather than AAA Toledo.

As for other options at Toledo, Rayner Bautista has plenty of minor league experience within the organization and could be placed there. Gookie Dawkins is another option.

Things begin to fall into place after Giarratano and the SeaWolves. Juan Francia (who twelve months ago was looking less and less like a prospect and was penciled in to backup Giarratano at West Michigan) broke out for the Whitecaps when given the opportunity, and will now go out to prove it wasn't a fluke. Francia will do that in Lakeland for the L-Tigers.

Now to West Michigan, things get more interesting. The organization had two shortstops share time in Oneonta; Brooks Colvin and Brent Dlugach. Both were drafted in 2004, and both had their fair share of struggles with Oneonta. Dlugach has a higher upside (and got the majority of repetitions at shortstop), but Colvin actually had better numbers. Whichever player has the better spring could very well end up at West Michigan, with the other sticking in Oneonta to try and improve on their very mediocre 2004 season.

It's unlikely (though possible) that the Tigers would keep both at the same stop, as both need to get at bats, as well as see the field on a regular basis. So, whichever one isn't at West Michigan will probably be at Oneonta with the hope of improving to challenge the one above them soon enough.

The GCL Tigers could see someone repeat the level to help out at shortstop, but the Tigers just signed a young prospect named Aodi Ciriaco out of the Dominican who they have high hopes for and could snag the spot. As always, there could be a draft pick that could contribute there as well.

Giarratano is clearly the cream of the crop, and is surprisingly flying under the radar, despite impressing each and every scout that sees him in action. Outside of Giarratano, the Tigers are somewhat limited prospect-wise, but they have a number that show some promise. Luckily, with Carlos Guillen under contract through 2007, the Tigers won't have shortstop as a high priority just yet.

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