As we watch the struggle against age of future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter and the other shortstops of the Nineties have passed, we have entered a new era of potentially great shortstops. By most metrics, the two best defensive players in the game this season are Atlanta’s Andrelton Simmons and Baltimore’s Manny Machado, and while the latter may remain a third baseman, he could easily move over to short. Jose Iglesias has drawn comparisons to Omar Vizquel in Detroit, while the Rangers have Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar for years and Jean Segura is already an allstar-level player for the Brewers.
Now this month we have seen 20 year old Xander Bogaerts position himself as Boston’s next potential star, with his power, his diligence and his explosive defensive tools. In Arizona, where Didi Gregorious is already a prime defender, they are taking a close September look at Chris Owings as their 2014 combination at short, second and third; Owings, likened to Craig Biggio, hit .330 with 51 extra base hits in Reno, and Kevin Towers raves about his instincts.
And in the winter and spring, there are four more rising shortstop stars to watch:
–the Cubs’ 20-year old Javier Baez, who hit 37 homers in A ball;
–Oakland’s 19 year old Addison Russell, who hit 17 homers with an .883 OPS in the Cal League and will begin 2014 in double-A on the BART express to Oakland;
–Cleveland’s 19-year old Francisco Lindor, who if he gets off to a good start in Akron could be in the big leagues by the end of the year;
–And Houston’s 2012 number one pick Carlos Correa, who put up a jaw-dropping .872 OPS playing in the Midwest League at the age of 17. Yes, 17.
“We’re in for a tremendous new generation of multi-faceted, talented shortstops,” says one pro scouting director.