And now to the most obvious #1 of these positional rankings…
Shortstop is the infield position where you see the most young players drafted or signed yet, and yet, it’s the hardest to find quality, long-term prospects. Not only are the defensive requirements extremely high, but offensive expectations have changed over the decades as well.
After the ’00’s Giants had several shortstops come in and out, the Giants have been very lucky in the ’10’s after Brandon Crawford made his Major League debut in 2011, and has been a relative rock at the position for the rest of the decade. His excellent (and often under-appreciated) defense with generally above-average offense, and also his consistent health (he played in 143 games or more in every full season he played up until 2020’s shortened season) have made the position one where the Giants have not had to worry.
Still, in 2021, it’s possible Crawford’s time at the position is coming to an end, and the Giants will need to fill the position again.
The good news is, we aren’t far away from another star. Probably a superstar.
#1 – Marco Luciano
There really isn’t any debate about the number one shortstop in the system. There’s not much debate about who the number one prospect in the system is. The only thing there might be debate on is who next year’s number one prospect in all of baseball is.
In all seriousness, in nearly two decades of following the Giants minor leagues, I have never seen a prospect like Luciano. Not Bart, not Posey, not Lincecum, not Bumgarner…none of them have elicited responses like this from both fans and nationwide prospect evaluators. There is no such thing as a sure thing, but Luciano has created some huge expectations, and no signs they are unwarranted.
If there is any debate here, it’s Luciano sticking at shortstop. Third base remains as chance, but word is that Luciano has impressed people with his work improving his hands and feet at the position. The Giants still seem committed to putting him at shortstop, and so far I’m trusting them, although seeing him in action in 2021 will really show how his work has gone.
Even so, whether he moves to third base, or even to the outfield, as some suggest, Luciano should still be a huge star offensively for the Giants in the future.
#2 – Aeverson Arteaga
The problem in the Giants system is that behind Luciano, the shortstop position is pretty shallow, at least in terms of players who look capable of staying there. So, we look at 2019 international signing Aeverson Arteaga as the #2 player at the position, despite having no professional games to judge him by.
Arteaga was one of the top signings in that 2019 class out of Venezuela, and reportedly has excellent skills defensively at the position, where his plus speed gives him range, with a strong arm and quick hands. That gives him a huge advantage at a shallow position for a good future.
His offensive production will remain a bigger question until we see him in action. According to summaries, he has good contact skills and barrel them up, but has average power at best. He’ll counter that with speed, which he can put to good use getting extra bases through steals. How good his approach is with pro batters will be key.
#3 – Dilan Rosario
To be honest, we’re digging a tad deep here. Rosario came to the Giants very young in the 2019 draft as a 6th round pick, and had a reputation for strong defense. He has the range and arm to be able to play there, for sure. And he’s got more than a little pop in his bat, and could develop above average power, and has above average speed.
That said, he didn’t get too much of a good showing in his first season. He slashed just .214/.254/.364 as an 18-year old in the AZL, although the .150 isolated slugging is a good showing of that potential power. Missing 2020 as a chance to show what he could do was a big loss for Rosario as a prospect, and time at shortstop may be tougher to find with the best shortstops all being young, and reportedly the 2020* international class will have a few more coming in. But Rosario has the defensive skills, and that will always get him longer looks.
Other Names to Know
The other names to know really are the ones from our Second Base list, as all of Will Wilson, Jimmy Glowenke, and Simon Whiteman could potentially fill in at shortstop, but none seem to be ideal at the position. Of the three, Whiteman probably has the best defensive skills, but also the least capable offense to be a starter.
As always, there will be incoming names in international signings and drafts that have shortstop listed at their position, but whether they can stick there will be the question to ask about all of them.