Monday, February 22, 2016

Jorge Polanco and the wave of young shortstops

I posted the other day about Jorge Polanco's uncertain future with the Twins.

Baseball America lists him as the 99th best prospect in the game. The precise ranking is basically immaterial, of course; the point is, he's a legitimate major league talent.

But as the J.J. Cooper tweets I included with that post suggest, there are plenty of superior shortstop candidates in the minors today. BA's list contains four shortstops in the top nine: Corey Seager of the Dodgers (1), J.P. Crawford of the Phillies (6), Orlando Arcia of the Brewers (8) and Trea Turner of the Nationals (8), Nick Gordon, the Twins' first-round pick in 2014 who had a solid season in low A, is No. 53 on the BA list; I counted 13 shortstops ranked ahead of him. Between Gordon and Polanco, BA lists four more.

And last year was noteworthy for the sheer bulk of superb rookie shortstops -- Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Addison Russell. Xavier Bogaerts of the Red Sox is entering his fourth major league season and is all of 23.

The point being, the game is awash today in young shortstops. Not all of them will stick at shortstop, of course; I don't really expect Polanco to either. But that's the pool of talent he's competing with to get a major league job, whether at short or second or even third base. And with that many competitors of similar age who can reasonably be regarded as superior or equal to him, his trade value may not be a high as we tend to believe.

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