Last year we took a position-by-position dive into the Yellow Springs minor leagues just after the amateur draft. I figured it was time to do a bit of an update and see what’s changed. Of course, one of the most immediate difference is the rating scheme, which the league changed from “true stars” to “relative 20/80.” But there’s more—quite a bit more.
This is the moment we’ve come to shortstop, which perhaps not too surprising I suppose, holds a lot of our ballclub’s future. Just to refresh, here was last year’s overview
Overall Assessment: Shortstop
It might be easy to just say “Dong-po Thum is coming” and get it over with. But the team has some interesting depth at the position, enough that we expect to see some rotations going on over the next few years that will likely see these players populating spots across the infield.
Starting, of course, at the major league level, where Miguel Padilla has been a solid value, if not a bit erratic. Padilla’s glove always carries strong odds to lead the league in errors, but he gets to a lot of balls others don’t, and the team’s advanced fielding stats suggest he may be more league-average than below it. Offensively, he’s a career .712 OPS guy, which is a number that plays at shortstop. At 25, he should be productive for another few seasons at least—two of which are covered by team controlled arbitration.
Still, one of the future plans stated by the YS9 executive office would be to move Padilla to second base next year to make room for Thum. Depending on how some other players develop, this idea seems to make pretty reasonable, as second base is not a position of stellar depth for the team.
PROSPECT DEPTH CHART:
|AAA||Dong-po Thum||20||R||80||10/10/6/5/9||8/9/12/7||#1 (*****) – 10/10/6/6/10 (8/8/12/7 Def – A|
|A||Luis Pena||18||R||50||6/6/3/5/7||10/11/8/11||#2 (**.5) – 6/7/4/5/7 (10/11/8/11 Def) – R|
|A||Roberto Viramontes||19||R||55||7/8/3/7/8||8/7/9/7||#4 (**.5) – 7/8/3/6/8 (8/6/9/7 Def) – R|
|AAA||Tai hoi Zhu||23||R||40||6/6/5/4/7||7/6/8/8||#3 (**) - 7/7/4/6/8 (7/6/8/8 Def) – AAA|
|R||Bob Allen||19||R||45||4/6/5/5/5||9/9/12/7||Drafted 2038|
|AA||Bernardo Sanchez||22||R||20||4/5/3/3/6||10/7/9/11||#5 (*.5) 5/6/5/3/7 (10/7/9/11 Def) - AA|
The way some fans are reacting, the first appearance of Dong-po Thum may well be a religious experience. I don’t think he’s quite that good, but I certainly get it. There’s little question that if the Nine needed him in the majors this year or if his power would have expressed itself more fully, that’s where he’d be, and barring anything horrible happening, you can pretty much ink in his name at shortstop next year—or third, if the team can’t come to an agreement with Rob Thomas. For now, however, we assume shortstop it will be. And, yes, excitement will begin at that point. Thumb has been developing well as a 20-year-old in AAA, including a nice little bump of his error rating.
Things begin to get interesting, however, as you down the depth chart.
Luis Pena is 18, and had a fine season in A-ball that cemented his reputation as a plus-plus defender as well as a guy who should hit well enough. He dropped 20 homers on !-ball pitchers, a number no one truly thinks will happen again, but is making scout’s eyes perk up. He took a small hit to his power and gap ratings over the season--I'm not sure if they were part of the relative shift, or a real drop. Still. Assuming Pena arrives a year after Thum, which is looking possible, one assumes Pena will own shortstop, and Thum moves to…third?...second? Probably third, where he could add Zimmer quality defense to his top-tier bat.
Then we have Roberto Viramontes, who, as I noted in the second base segment, has leap-frogged Tai hoi Zhu in the order. He could play shortstop, but is probably better suited for third. Or second, assuming Thum is at third.
See, there’s a lot of assuming going on, not the least of which is assuming these guys pan out by avoiding what appears to be a very hungry lump monster—which to date they’ve been able to.
In this scenario Zhu probably becomes a utility guy (along with 2B Juan Lopez?).
And then there’s Bernardo Sanchez and newly drafted Bob Allen, both solid defenders who could play all around the diamond. The problem, of course, is that Sanchez has now regressed hard with the bat, and Allen came into the team with a AA shortstop’s lumber. Sanchez may be getting to the end of the area where you can be hopeful, but Allen is obviously at the beginning of his journey.
|A||Manuel Rios||22||L||20||3/4/2/5/4||10/10/11/10||DH – 4/5/3/5/4 – 9/10/10/10 (Def) - SA|
|SA||Jose Moran||21||R||20||3/4/2/3/6||10/11/9/11||DH – 4/5/3/5/4 – 10/10/9/11 (Def) - SA|
This year’s dark horses are the same as last year’s, meaning they are a year older but the story remains the same. Both Rios and Moran took hits during that ratings shift, and neither has really recovered. But the gloves, oh, man, the gloves on these guys are making minor league pitchers very, very happy—and Rios’s actually bumped over the year. So the books aren’t closed, yet. If the baseball gods were to reach out and instill just a bit more of something there, either of these guys could fill a role.