Merry Christmas everyone. I initially tried to get this post out on Christmas Eve, but as normally happens, family obligations got in the way. So, here we go. With all the free time over winter break, I've been able to update the reports for the 200 players on my 2018 Draft Board. Some personal favorites are starting to emerge, others are losing their luster. A couple days ago I sifted through the prep pitching depth - the premium arms, the projectability monsters, the dark horses - and now we'll move onto the prep shortstops. The crop is pretty deep, with about 4 guys with solid first round chances and a handful who could work their way into the back end of Day 1. It's worth noting that all the following prospects currently play shortstop, but some will most definitely move off the position. Lumping them all into one post was just easier.
Brice Turang (CA) - L/R - 6'1/165lbs
Turang should be a familiar name to anyone who's done any googling about the upcoming draft. He's been on the radar for years, performed well in showcases and on the Team USA 18U squad, and is well regarded by the scouting community. The appeal is pretty obvious: he's a polished prep shortstop with a wide range of above-average or better tools and a lock to stay at the position. Power is the only thing lacking in his profile, but his frame is projectable enough to tab a 50 on his future raw power. That's raw power, mind you, his game power will settle in somewhere beneath that. He's also a plus runner, has an above average arm, and his feel to hit is precocious. A comp that's been thrown out is "high school Dansby Swanson", but the comp I like better is a shortstop version of Mickey Moniak. Wide base of polished tools, but only one that really stands out as plus. Just about the safest prep player in the class. Commitment: LSU
Nander De Sedas (FL) - S/R - 6'1/190lbs
De Sedas was a relative unknown before distinguishing himself on the showcase circuit this summer. He's a switch hitting shortstop who goes to the same high school as current switch hitting Indians shortstop, Francisco Lindor. Lindor comps have been thrown out, but he's phyiscally more Carlos Correa or Manny Machado than Lindor. He has shot up boards because of his feel to hit and plus raw power from both sides of the plate. Add that to the feet, hands and arm strength to stick at short and you've got an incredibly interesting prospect. The only knock is his speed - fringe average at present, below average as he fills out - which leads to worries about simply outgrowing shortstop. I'm of the opinion that he'll retain enough range to be an average defender, albeit a very physical one. Commitment: Florida State
Nolan Gorman (AZ) - L/R - 6'1/210lbs
Remember when I said there would be guys on this list that are sure to move off shortstop? Gorman is one of those guys. He's already outgrown the position as a senior, but has stayed atop draft board because of the promise in his bat. The raw power is among the best in the class - high school OR college - and some scouts have tabbed it with a 70. It's power that he can get to in games and show to all fields. The hit tool is at least average, maybe half-grade above depending on what you think of his low-handed stroke. He has an above-average arm that will work well at the hot corner, and while he'll never be a gold glover over there, the tools and actions are there to be average. Commitment: Arizona
Xavier Edwards (FL) - S/R - 5'10/155lbs
Edwards is undersized, as the line suggests, but is a twitchy athlete with room to add plenty of functional strength. The standout tool is his speed, easily double-plus with wicked times out of the box as a lefty. His over the fence power will never be average, but an above average hit tool from both sides and gap strength make it easy to envision him stretching out doubles and triples with his legs. On the dirt, he has top level defensive tools and an arm thats looks good enough for the lift side of the infield. The arm may ultimately force a shift over to second, but the range and silky defensive actions will make him an above-average to plus defender at either spot. Easy comp? Switch-hitting Dee Gordon that may stick at short. Commitment: Vanderbilt.
Osiris Johnson (CA) - R/R - 6'1, 185lbs
Now we get into the murky tier, where tools can be loud but profiles need significant projection. Johnson is one of my personal favorites, rated higher in my rankings than most outlets and a candidate to shoot up boards in the spring. I'm intrigued for two reasons: (1) he's a twitchy athlete with lots of room for projection, and (2) he's one of the youngest players in the class. At the plate, he swings with above-average, max effort bat speed and some pretty good leverage. That's not crazy unique, but what catches my eye is his ability to modify his approach. On the showcase circuit he vacillated between two looks, choking up and shortening his stroke for high-contact rates or lengthening out and hunting for power. That headiness in the box combined with his youth makes me bullish on the bat developing this spring. In the field, his plus speed gives him good range and the actions, hands and arm are all enough to stick at short. Commitment: Cal State-Fullerton
Jordan Groshans (TX) - R/R - 6'4, 190lbs
Groshans has a big, lanky frame that allows for significant projection on his raw power but some questions about sticking at short. I bet he moves off, with enough arm to handle third but actions that suggest he could play second. The speed is just average and so is his range. His promise in the batter's box is what gets scouts excited. Groshans has quick hands, feel to hit, potential plus raw power, and enough performance on big stages this summer to make you think he might tap into all of it. I'm a bit skeptical, because his flat stroke is geared for line drives and the showcase homers were ambushed fastballs to his pull side. Not to say that that's bad, just that it's not Gorman all-fields power. The comp that comes to mind is DJ LeMahieu, a big second basemen with good contact skills and less game power than the frame initially suggests. Commitment: Kansas
Kendall Logan Simmons (GA) - R/R - 6'3, 190lbs
Simmons might have the loudest tools on this list, headlined by plus raw power, above-average speed underway and a plus arm. His swing is short to the ball and explosive, with big extension and plenty of lift. This guys's gonna hit balls hard, and hit it hard to all fields. His defensive actions belong on the dirt, but size and foot speed point towards third base being his future. I think he can be quite good there, probably above-average, maybe even more. The red flag in the profile is a doozy: he may not make much contact at all. The hit tool is extremely raw, without much breaking ball recognition or innate feel for the barrel. That immediately gives some pause, but if he goes out and hits this spring his loud tools will push him into the first round. Commitment: Georgia Tech
Blaze Alexander (FL) - R/R - 6'1, 170lbs
First off, it's a plus name. Other than sounding good on a lineup card, Alexander looks like solid-average fundamental shortstop with one tool that let's the profile play up: a double-plus, absurdly strong arm. This dude has an absolute cannon, undoubtably the best in the class. It's easy to envision him barely getting to balls in the hole but gunning down the runner in a way that really isn't all that fair. That's a good floor. The questions marks start to fly when you bring up his bat. I personally like the swing, with plenty of fluidity, a solid bat path and some torque. The frame, however, is wiry and may not ever amount to average raw power. The hit tool isn't good enough to overcome that hurdle, so he may need to go to college and prove he can handle the bat. Commitment: South Carolina.
A Pair of Throw-Ins: Brandon Dieter (CA) is a Stanford commit with above-average speed, an above-average arm that hits 91 on the mound and fundamental actions that could let him stick at short. His bat speed and size allow for average raw power, but a steep path limits his contact and ability to really drive the ball. He could go to college, hit enough, and come out a very interesting prospect. Then there's Jeremiah Jackson (AL), a Mississippi State commit with smooth defensive actions and above-average speed. The frame has enough room to project average power, but a deep load made him extremely strikeout prone over the summer. The raw hit tool isn't dissimilar from Simmons, but Jackson's other tools are much more muted. Another candidate that would benefit from going to campus.
There you have it - ten prep shortstops, four of which that should go in the first round and couple that could force themselves into the conversation. Hope everyone has a great Christmas, and if I can't get back to writing in time, a wonderful New Year.