The Shortstop Stockpile

The Yankees seem to have a knack for having a stockpile of talented shortstops these days. Everyone knows about Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. But, the Yankees also have this surplus of shortstops in the minors as well. The headliners of this list are Hector Made, Marcos Vechionacci and Grant Plumley.

It is a nice luxury to have three very fine shortstops up and coming in the farm system. However, it is also too bad that none of them will likely ever see a day of shortstop if they make the majors as a New York Yankee considering the presence of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. But, the Yankees already seem to have some decisions to make on their shortstops, and it is where are they going to play them. Marcos Vechionacci, the leading man on this list, has a job waiting for him Charleston, where it has already been said that he will be the shortstop. And, all points seem to indicate that Hector Made will be the shortstop in High A Tampa in 2005. However, how about the purest shortstop of the three, Grant Plumley? Where is there room for him with Made and Vechionacci locking up the two A ball shortstop positions. It is not as if Plumley is not highly regarded by the organization. So, what do the Yankees do? No one can be sure until the season begins. But, let's at least take a look at what each of these three players brings to the table.

Hector Made

Batting and Power. Hector Made has shown very good potential with the bat as contact hitter and with fairly decent power to go along with it. Scouts expect more and more power out of the bat of Hector Made as he gets older and adds a little more muscle to his 154 pound frame. He showed good average potential as he hit .289 in Battle Creek in 2004. Needs to be more under control at the plate and cut back on his swing. Overall, a good hitting shortstop.

Base Running and Speed. There is no doubt that Hector Made has above average speed which also adds to his plus range in the field. He certainly has the potential to steal 20 plus bases per year but needs to learn and better understand the art of swiping a bag. He stole 10 bases this year but was caught ten times. The fact that he was so young is a big excuse for that, though.

Defense. Made is a very good defensive shortstop already in his very young career but still makes a little too many errors, (33) but of course he is still very young and you can expect that. Scouts believe that once he matures he will put his above average range and his good arm to work and become a very good defensive shortstop. Again, he just needs to focus himself and stay under control in the field. Then, he can let his raw tools take over.

Projection. It appears that Hector Made could very well be a solid big league shortstop that has all the skills to be an everyday player. However, Made may have his greatest future at either another position or another organization. Derek Jeter doesn't appear that he is going to vacate the shortstop position any time soon so there are a couple of other options for Hector Made, should he continue to develop into a fantastic player that he has the potential to be.

Marcos Vechionacci

Batting and Power. There really can't be enough said about the pure offensive capabilities of Marcos Vechionacci. He makes contact, he has big power potential, he controls the bat phenomenally and his patience is out of this world for a teenage hitter. The amazing thing is that he has so much room to fill out. Right now, he only weighs in at 170 pounds. One can only imagine what an offensive force he could be when he puts 20 pounds of strength on his wiry frame. His natural loft and pop on his swing will only increase into big time power. "Nacci" appears to be the type of player to hit over .300 and also hit 30 home runs. There is no doubt that his offensive capabilities are through the roof.

Base running and Speed. It appears that Vechionacci has slightly above average wheels but not outstanding speed. Even so, he has not mastered the art of base stealing by any stretch of the imagination. This 2005 season will be key though. If he can show that he is a run producing type of hitter, the idea of base stealing will be put on the back burner. But, if he proves to be more of a top of the lineup sparkplug, he will have to improve his base stealing ability. However, for a young player, he has good instincts on the base paths. Again, he always seems in control and never panics when he is on base. Also, he has very solid range in the infield.

Defense. Although it looks like Vechionacci could play 2b, 3b or shortstop, the organization is taking the idea of him playing shortstop and running with it. Vechionacci certainly has the soft hands for it, that is for sure. To go along with his solid range, Vechionacci makes for an excellent defender. His arm is slightly above which is most of the reason he will probably never play second base. There is no doubt that he can hold his own at shortstop but the question is will he outgrow that position as he gets bigger and stronger? Only time will tell.

Projection. With no exaggeration, the sky is the limit for Marcos Vechionacci. 2005 will be a huge season for Marcos. It could be a season that propels him to elite prospect status or the year that he levels off. But, right now, it appears that it should be the former of the two. We know all the tools he has but what type of player will all these tools translate into? It is easy to say that he will someday be an offensive force from the shortstop position but if his bat becomes too big, he may also end up at third base. The possibilities are truly limitless for this potential superstar.

Grant Plumley

Batting and Power. Grant Plumley is most likely the perfect, stereotypical hitter for the second spot in the batting order. In fact, playing shortstop, even though he is expected to be a better fielding shortstop, and the way he hits the ball, Plumley shows shades of the Yankee captain himself, Derek Jeter. He has average power but he can shoot the gap at any time with plenty of authority. Has very quick hands and explodes through the zone. Is very adept at inside outing the ball with decent power. At this point, he is still a very impatient hitter but the majority of hitters are at his level of play. However, he does make good contact and will have very low strikeout numbers. Should have 15-20 HR power in the big leagues and could be a .300+ hitter. He was a pleasure for Tommy John in Staten Island in 2004 as he showed that he could do all the little things right, laying down bunts, hit and run and advance runners. He could be a classic little ball player.

Base Running and Speed. Plumley is an excellent base runner no matter which way you cut it. While he is not blazing fast, his speed would be considered slightly above average. Grant Plumley could be a 20 stolen base guy in the big leagues. He is a very smart base runner as well.

Defense. This is the strongest part of Grant Plumley's game by far. He can flat out pick at a very tough shortstop position as he has already shown this season in Staten Island. Has an above average throwing arm and his range in fantastic. He is very good at going to his right and his left. Takes very good angles to the ball. Possesses excellent footwork and foot speed. He projects to be a well above average defensive shortstop.

Projection. It is so tough to tell what we can expect from a player that has just begun his professional career. But, going by what is known about him, it is easy to say that Plumley could end up as a Gold Glove caliber shortstop. His offensive skills could also lead him to a .300+ batting average with up to 20 HR power.

That is a pretty nice trio of talented, young shortstops to headline the lower portion of the farm system. So, is having all these guys a problem? Yes, but it is certainly a nice dilemma to have. But, the only true question mark here is where does Grant Plumley fit? The Yankees showed an enormous amount of confidence in him in 2004 as he got, far and away, the most playing time of any player on the roster. He is almost 23 years old so, if the Yankees truly believe in his abilities, they are going to have to advance him and give him some playing time. And, as for Made and Vechionacci, the Yankees love their talent and are going to give them the best chance to succeed. It gives the Yankees some decisions to make next spring but having too much talent is a nice problem to have.


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