2016 Impact Rookies: Shortstops

We recently began a series looking at the potential top rookie producers at each position around the baseball diamond. This series should be valuable for anyone participating in a fantasy league that allows keepers. It could also help anyone playing in more traditional formats who may need to fill holes throughout the season or may be in need of a little spark.

If you thought 2015 was an impressive year for rookie shortstops — with the likes of Carlos Correa, Addison Russell, and Francisco Lindor making their debuts — just wait for 2016. As many as six more infield captains could step into starting roles in Chicago (AL), Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Los Angeles (NL), Colorado, and Washington.

First Basemen
Second Basemen
Third Basemen

Top Targets:

Tim Anderson, White Sox: The Sox made a number of upgrades during the offseason but will open the year with all-glove Tyler Saladino at shortstop. The decision could be a signal that the club is hoping Anderson can be ready at some point early on in 2016. After all, Ian Desmond is still on the open market as of the writing of this piece and Chicago is in win-now mode. The rookie infielder has shown the ability to hit for average, which is good because he rarely walks — something that typically doesn’t bode well for someone who has the ability to steal 20-30 bases at the big league level (and needs to be on base to do so). After spending all of 2015 in Double-A, look for Anderson to appear in The Show around mid to late June.

Orlando Arcia, Brewers: Known as a great glove man early on in his career, Arcia’s bat has shown more life as he’s risen through the ranks of the Brewers system. Like Tim Anderson above, he doesn’t take many walks so it’s important for him to maintain his strong batting average to take advantage of his 20+ steal ability. Unlike Anderson, Arcia has begun to show more pop and slugged 37 doubles, seven triples and eight home runs in ’15 at the Double-A level. With Milwaukee in full rebuilding mode and Jonathan Villar looking like the go-to guy early in the season at shortstop, Arcia could be up in June.

J.P. Crawford, Phillies: The current makeup of the 2016 Phillies suggests another No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 amateur draft could be upcoming. There’s just not much impact talent on the field. A call-up of Crawford, though, could change that and create a dynamic left side of the infield with fellow youngster Maikel Franco (although he’s likely headed across the diamond when Ryan Howard finally exits stage left). Crawford — who just recently turned 21 — has an advanced eye at the plate for such a young hitter and actually walked more than he stuck out in 2015. That will help compensate for the fact that he’s still learning as a hitter and may only hit .240-.250 early on in his career. He doesn’t project to offer much power but he could be good for double-digit steals.

Corey Seager, Dodgers: Seager is the man you want on your fantasy keeper square. Mark my words, he’ll be a beast for Los Angeles. The only question with this young stud is how quickly he’ll become a middle-of-the-order threat. Unlike the players above him on this list (alphabetical), Seager is all but guaranteed to open the year in the Majors and he also already has big league experience (albeit brief). Just 21, he’s shown the ability to hit more than .300 against more advanced pitchers and he also went deep 22 times in ’15. He showed incredible poise with the Dodgers down the stretch last year, walking more than 12% of the time, hitting .337 and slugging 13 extra base hits in 27 games.

Trevor Story, Rockies: Jose Reyes’ legal woes could be Story’s ticket to the Majors (unless Ian Desmond comes to town). The former 45th overall pick in the 2011 draft has had an uneven professional performance up until this point but he’s coming off of a strong season that saw him become a 20-20 (homers-steals) man while playing in both Double-A and Triple-A. His biggest downfall is his lack of consistent contact but the thin air in Colorado could really help his power blossom.

Trea Turner, Nationals: Do you think the Padres regret the deal that sent Turner to Washington? With Ian Desmond headed out of town, it appears as though the rookie infielder is the man to replace him, although Danny Espinosa may be a short-term stopgap for the club. Still, you have to figure Turner will weasel his way into a starting gig at some point in 2016, especially after he blew through both Double-A and Triple-A in ’15 en route to a cup of coffee in The Show. Turner won’t hit for much power but he can do a little bit of everything else.

Keep an Eye On:

Gavin Cecchini, Mets: Both Cecchini brothers could lost their prospect eligibility as freshmen players in 2016. However, Wilmer Flores was standing in Gavin’s way in New York — and then the club went out and signed veteran Asdrubal Cabrera. Previously known as more of an all-glove guy, Cecchini is starting to improve as a hitter, as witnessed by his 2015 season that saw him make a lot of contact, hit more than .300 and show increased pop (raising his OPS above .800). He’ll likely end up being a better player than both Flores and Cabrera so it’s kind of disappointing that he’s blocked for the next two years (until Cabrera’s contract runs out).

Deven Marrero, Red Sox: Being a Red Sox prospect is hard. It seems like every year there is a new hot toy coming up through the minors at every position. Marrero is a solid-but-not-great player and he’s already flanked by better players with Xander Bogaerts at shortstop in the Majors and — if he was entertaining thoughts of shifting to second base to take over for Dustin Pedroia at some point — Yoan Moncada in the minors. Marrero, 25, will likely have to settle for a utility role if he remains in Boston but I’d be shocked if he doesn’t find himself traded by the end of July .

Jorge Polanco, Twins: The biggest hole on the Twins roster is probably at shortstop, although Eduardo Escobar performed respectably in 2015. He’s pretty much average in every way so that could eventually open the door for Polanco to squeeze his way into the picture. He’s shown a consistent ability to hit for a solid batting average and he also gets on base at a decent clip. He doesn’t have a ton of power, but he has more strength than Escobar and could mature into a solid doubles hitter. Polanco isn’t a huge stolen base guy but he could offer up double-digit steals totals for fantasy managers.

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Cory Settoon

Does Adames block Story at any point?

Don’t think he’s good enough to really stop him.