Yankees vs. Red Sox: Shortstop Prospects

Comparing what the Yankees and Red Sox have at each position in the minor leagues, we take a look at the crop of shortstop prospects in each system. Which system is deeper? Which prospects have the most power? The highest ceilings? Take a look at this comparison between the two rival AL East farm systems.

The Two Farm Systems: Boston and New York could not be more polar opposites than they are right now at the shortstop prospect position. Boston has little depth up and down the farm system at shortstop but the good news is they don't need much of it with 22-year old Xander Bogaerts seemingly firmly entrenched at the position for the time being.

New York on the other hand did not have a shortstop prospect waiting to step in for the recently retired Derek Jeter, so much so that they had to go out and trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks for Didi Gregorius to even have a short-term answer at the position. But while the Yankees have little upper-level depth among their shortstop prospects they are absolutely flush with high-ceiling talent at the position at the lower levels that is now beginning to creep up to the higher levels shortly.

The top shortstop prospect in either farm system right now is New York's Jorge Mateo even though the Dominican native has yet to have an official minor league at-bat in the long-season leagues. With plus-plus speed, plus defense, plus makeup, and above average power potential, he's a smaller and quicker version of Bogaerts at similar points in their careers. And like Bogaerts, Mateo has all of the makings of being a difference-maker on both sides of the ball someday, one who could be a franchise type talent.

Boston on the other hand does not have a shortstop prospect who can be remotely as dynamic on both sides of the ball. Rather, they have either defensive-first options like Deven Marrero, Javier Guerra, or Tzu-Wei Lin, all of whom have limited offensive potential, or they have an ultra-high offensive ceiling prospect like Michael Chavis who comes with some long-term defensive questions at the position.

Marrero, Boston's first round pick out of Arizona State University in 2012, is a solid defender at the position, showing above average range and feel, and plus arm strength. He is the kind of steady defensive player a team can build around in the field. At the plate, however, while he shows an ability to make contact and put together good at-bats, enough at least be a starting player, the power rates as below average so his potential impact is more of that as somebody who would have to hit in the bottom third of a big league lineup. Plus makeup and average speed are also strengths.

Guerra is an even lighter-hitting version of Marrero. Also a right-handed bat, the Panamanian native is rangier than Marrero, shows the same plus arm strength, and better fluidity in the field, but offensively he too has power that is below average and the batting approach isn't nearly as advanced. There's some potential as a big league starter given the great defensive skill set but the offense could take some time to develop to get him to that point.

Boston signed Tzu-Wei Lin out of Taiwan in 2012 for a reported $2.05 million. Widely regarded as an elite defender with some hitting potential but some very questionable power, things have played out that very way thus far in his career. He shows the kind of plus plate discipline that could make him a high-average hitter someday but the way below average power potential could hurt his ability long-term. With above average to borderline plus speed he can still impact the game in other ways, but for now most scouts view him as a defensive big league backup down the road.

Chavis, Boston's first round pick out of high school in Georgia last year, is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Like Marrero he has plus makeup that screams being a long-term captain type and he too shows a real ability to be a consistent hitter at the plate, but he has above average power potential in a short, compact swing, the kind that could be an impact bat someday. Defensively, however, he is merely average at the position despite boasting plus arm strength. He'll stick at the position for now and there's a chance he could improve his range and feel, but there's already some chatter in the scouting community that his better long-term position is probably either second base or third base.

New York on the other hand has a couple of more better two-way options in the form of Angel Aguilar and Thairo Estrada, both of whom that, while not being plus defenders quite like Boston's Javier Guerra, do fit into the Deven Marrero mold as solid average or better defenders at the position. Both are Venezuelan natives with average or better power potential, both show an advanced feel for hitting, and both have average or better speed too.

Abiatal Avelino of the Yankees also fits into the 'solid across the board' category among the shortstop prospects. His power right now grades just a tick below that of Aguilar and Estrada's but the rest of the game is on par offensively. And defensively, while he is more an above average runner overall, he shows a bit better feel defensively and is a smoother defender than most of the aforementioned names.

Tyler Wade, New York's fourth round pick out of high school in 2013, certainly falls into the Marrero camp as an overall steady player on both sides of the ball but whose below average power might limit the long-term impact. However, while the power is pretty similar, the fact is the 20-year old Wade shows a bit more offensive upside given his above average speed and better advanced feel for hitting.

New York's Cito Culver might be the best defender at the position in either organization outside of Mateo. Boasting plus arm strength, above average to plus range, great hands, and some of the most innate feel for the position, he is flat-out a difference-maker in the field. However, more in the Guerra camp, the bat has been slow to develop thus far. The former 2010 first round pick has struggled after abandoning switch-hitting two years ago. There's average power and average or better speed, but the bat lacks consistency right now.

The same could be said of New York's Ali Castillo, another high-flying, acrobatic plus defender who could easily rank among the best Major League defensive shortstops right now. The Venezuelan native can actually hit pretty consistently too, showing plus plate discipline and like Marrero a real proclivity for putting the ball in play, and he has average or better speed too. But like Marrero the power is below average and therefore limits his long-term potential to more of a bottom-third hitter at best.

While Boston does lack depth at shortstop it's not as if they are without any 'sleeper' candidates at the position. Maurcio Dubon, last year's 26th round pick out of high school certainly falls in the 'sleeper' category. He has some intriguing tools, including plus speed, surprising power for a rather slender but still projectable frame, and he has the chance to be average or better defensively. The overall game is pretty raw right now, even the usefulness of his great speed, but at 20-years old and not yet in the long-season leagues he still has time to smooth out the rough edges.

The impressive Yankee shortstop depth is not just limited to the United States right now yet either. New York signed a gaggle of high-priced International free agents this past year and some of them -- Wilkerman Garcia, Diego Castillo, Hoy Jun Park, Griffin Garrabito, and Daninger Perez -- all have the long-term talent to headline some of these rankings in the coming years akin to how Jorge Mateo and Angel Aguilar have done over the past year, and that's not even including Yonauris Rodriguez [one of the 2013 top International signings], Yancarlos Baez [one of the top 2012 International signings], and Ricardo Ferreira [an 80-runner], all of whom played in the Dominican Summer League last season.

How Do They Compare In...

Power: Should Boston's Michael Chavis be able to stick at the shortstop position long-term it would certainly help narrow the gap here somewhat, but even still it's not nearly enough to overcome the collective power of New York's Jorge Mateo, Angel Aguilar, Thairo Estrada, and Abiatal Avelino, and that's not even including the power potential of their DSL/International signing imports coming soon. Advantage: Yankees

Hitting For Average: Even though both Deven Marrero and Tzu-Wei Lin help chip in this category and even if Chavis sticks at shortstop, it's once again not enough to overcome the massive depth of quality hitters the Yankees have emerging at shortstop, especially the quintet of Mateo, Aguilar, Estrada, Avelino, and Tyler Wade. Advantage: Yankees

Defense: This is the one area where the Red Sox can make up some ground. Both Javier Guerra and Tzu-Wei Lin are elite defenders and both Marrero and Mauricio Dubon are average or better. However, the Yankees sport three elite defenders in Ali Castillo, Cito Culver, and Jorge Mateo, two more who rate above average in Avelino and Tyler Wade, and a whole slew who grade out as average or better. Advantage: Yankees

Speed: Boston really only has two potential impact runners among their shortstop prospects, Lin and Dubon, and even as fast as Dubon is he has not yet learned best how to utilize it. Marrero and Guerra can run too but they're more on the average side. On the other side of the comparison is the Yankees. Cito Culver, Ali Castillo, Angel Aguilar, and Abiatal Avelino are average runners or better, Wade and Estrada both grade out as above average runners, and Mateo is an elite plus-plus runner. Advantage: Yankees

Overall Potential: We mentioned a year ago that the Red Sox had the better overall potential at shortstop with Xander Bogaerts still retaining prospect status but that the tide would begin to shift towards the Yankees favor once he did graduate and once the likes of Avelino, Wade, and the host of others behind them began to move up, and that's exactly how it has played out. Considering the plethora of high-ceiling shortstop talent the Yankees now have at the lower levels, and especially given their extreme youth [Jorge Mateo doesn't turn 20 until late June for example], it may take a long time before Boston can come close to comparing to the Yankee shortstop prospect depth. Advantage: Yankees

Highest Ceilings: Jorge Mateo (Yankees), Michael Chavis (Red Sox), Angel Aguilar (Yankees), Thairo Estrada (Yankees), Abiatal Avelino (Yankees)

Best Power: Michael Chavis (Red Sox), Angel Aguilar (Yankees), Jorge Mateo (Yankees), Thairo Estrada (Yankees), Abiatal Avelino (Yankees)

Best Average: Jorge Mateo (Yankees), Michael Chavis (Red Sox0, Abiatal Avelino (Yankees), Tyler Wade (Yankees), Thairo Estrada (Yankees)

Best Defense: Javier Guerra (Red Sox), Ali Castillo (Yankees), Cito Culver (Yankees), Jorge Mateo (Yankees), Tzu-Wei Lin (Red Sox)

Best Speed: Jorge Mateo (Yankees), Tzu-Wei Lin (Red Sox), Tyler Wade (Yankees), Mauricio Dubon (Red Sox), Thairo Estrada (Yankees)


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