A look at some of the San Diego Padres organization’s top prospects at the shortstop position, an area in which there hasn’t been consistency for decades.
The subject is widely known and often discussed. The Padres have not had a reliable, everyday shortstop on their roster since the departure of Khalil Greene in 2008. Despite many attempts to secure a reliable veteran to hold down the position until a prospect can be developed, the Padres haven’t had much luck on that front either.
Strength up the middle of the diamond is widely acknowledged as a requirement if you are trying to build a championship team. The organization feels they now have the strength they need either on the major league club or very close to major league ready but with one exception.
Yes, that’s correct. Shortstop.
Erick Aybar is the stop gap player that general manager AJ Preller signed to a minor league contract during the offseason. I really believe that he was hoping that Luis Sardinas would excel in spring training and Aybar would be organizational depth. That did not happen and Aybar is now the everyday starting player for the Padres, with Sardinas and Rule V’er Allen Cordoba as the relief.
With those three as the options for 2017, who is the best option going forward?
Allen Cordoba- 21 years old, 6″-1″, 175 lbs, Throws-R, Bats-R. Signed by the St Louis Cardinals in 2012 from Panama. Obtained by the Padres in the Dec. 2016 Rule V draft, Cordoba finished the 2016 season in the rookie ball Appalachian League and won the league batting title for 2016. Listed in Baseball America Prospect Handbook as the Padres #29 prospect, Cordoba has lots of raw talent with good plate discipline, plus speed and good quickness with a strong arm. He could stick at shortstop but needs development. It appears the organization hopes to use him as a utility player for the 2017 season and hope that he can develop into a strong candidate for short. Could be ready 2019-2020.
Jose Rondon- 23 years old, 6′- 1″, 195 lbs, Bats- R, Throws-R. Signed by the Angels out of Venezuela in 2011 and obtained by the Padres in the deal for Hustron Street, Rondon missed most of 2015 due to an elbow ailment and started 2016 in AA San Antonio. He had a brief 8 game call up with the Padres then was sent to AAA El Paso for the rest of the season. The #22 prospect per BA Prospect Handbook, Rondon has good bat control but average defense at short and could be used more as a utility infielder. He has started this season back in AA playing both 3B and SS but is currently on the DL with a hamstring strain. May be a usable piece this year if he hits.
Javier Guerra- 21 years old, 5′-11″, 155lbs, Throws-R, Bats-L. Acquired by the Padres from the Red Sox in the Craig Kimbrel trade. BA Prospect ranking #25, Guerra spent the 2016 season with the Lake Elsinore Storm after being traded from the Red Sox. Whether the trade or the change in systems affected him is not known but Guerra took a huge step back last season. With a scouting report touting his arm strength, lateral range and hitting abilities, he struck out 141 times in 165 games and committed 30 errors in the field. Kyle Glaser, in the BA Prospect Handbook, seemed even more concerned with his mental makeup and inability to keep his struggles from affecting the other side of his game. No timetable, if ever.
Luis Urias- 19 years old, 5′-9″, 160lbs, Throws-R, Bats-R. International free agent sign out of Mexico in 2013, #4 BA Prospect in Handbook. Urias’ claim to fame is his exceptional bat control and plate discipline which earned him a .330 average with a batting title and MVP award last season at Lake Elsinore. He was the youngest player in the Cal league as well. His plus arm and good foot work make him a possibility at shortstop but his natural position seems to be 2B. The Padres have him playing both positions at AA San Antonio and he could move quickly through the system but at what position remains to be seen. Arrival could be as early as next year.
Fernando Tatis Jr- 18 years old, 6′-3″, 185 lbs, Throws-R, Bats-R. Acquired from the Chicago White Sox in the James Shields trade. BA Prospect Handbook has Tatis as the #17 prospect in the organization. Kyle Glaser, who authored the Padres section in the handbook, thinks Tatis will stick at shortstop and be an above average hitter if he can tighten up his strike zone discipline. Fangraphs.com agrees but thinks he might better suit 3B due to his size and reduced speed. Whichever position he eventually fills, all evaluators agree that he has tremendous potential with both the bat and glove. His projected arrival is 2021.
Luis Almanzar- 17 years old, 6′-0″, 180 lbs, Throws-R, Bats-R. Rated #20 prospect in the BA Handbook, MLB.com rated him as the #3 prospect in the international class this year. The Padres signed him for $4million during this draft class. This is another prospect that could fit at either short or 3B, depending on who you ask. Felt to be a plus contact hitter with power potential and a plus arm on defense, Almanzar starts the 2017 season with the DSL Padres and likely won’t be in SD for 5 or 6 seasons.
More from Friars on Base
- Padres barely missed out on high-end veteran starting pitcher
- This veteran DH target seems ideal for contending Padres roster
- Padres got steal with Xander Bogaerts after Carlos Correa’s mega-deal
- Failed Padres top prospect makes stunning return with minor league deal
- Padres fail to land ideal Xander Bogaerts teammate at catcher
Gabriel Arias- 16 years old, 6′-1″, 180lbs, Throws-R, Bat-R. Signed for $1.9 million out of Venezuela in the current international draft, Arias was rated by MLB.com as one of the top 5 prospects in the class. Fangraphs.com rates him as a lock for sticking at short with an above average bat and defense. There is so much development left with his body and his tools that this will be a project worth watching for the long term future.
Jordy Barley- 17 years old, 6′-0″, 165 lbs, Throws-R, Bats-R. #15 international prospect per MLB.com, Barley is a plus runner with raw talent that requires development. He signed for $1million.
One of the things you learn while researching the shortstop position is that few prospects actually stick there. Due to the difficulty of fielding the position and the arm required to make plays, many prospects are unable to make it to the major leagues playing at shortstop.
Of the current crop of prospects, it seems that Cordoba or Urias could hold down the spot while waiting for Tatis or Arias to make their appearance. Since some of these prospects will eventually be second or third baseman, we will look at those positions in the organization next.