Shortstop is a position that the Reds recently had a bit of an interesting situation arise with as Walt Jocketty reportedly said that he would be open to trading incumbent Reds starting shortstop Zach Cozart or the guy waiting in the wings at AAA in Didi Gregorius. One of those two players should be manning shortstop for the Reds over the next several seasons.

The top shortstop prospect in the system is clearly Didi Gregorius, who split his minor league time between Pensacola and Louisville before a September call up with the Reds. With Pensacola, Gregorius went out and hit .278/.344/.373 with 29 walks and 49 strikeouts in 349 plate appearances before being promoted to Louisville. His numbers fell off some as he hit just .244/288/.427 with 12 walks and 31 strikeouts in 202 trips to the plate. His BABIP dropped off in Louisville while his power jumped up. He noted after the season that he tried hitting for more power in the second half of the season and was merely trying to be a singles hitter in the first half. Defensively you have the best defensive shortstop in the system with above-average range and a plus arm.

There is a rather large drop off at the position once you get past Gregorius with Billy Hamilton now moved to center. Devin Lohman played shortstop for the Bakersfield Blaze once Hamilton left, though Lohman is viewed more as a second baseman defensively. While he can play shortstop, he is probably a bit below-average there. With the bat, Lohman showed he was capable in the California League with a little bit of power, good speed and some solid plate discipline as he hit .257/.353/.401 with 34 steals. Juan Perez was the other shortstop in full season ball and like Lohman, he likely profiles better as a second baseman than as a shortstop. He hit .253/.336/.398 with Dayton as he showed off a little bit of pop in his bat along with some speed and good plate discipline. Defensively he has had questions about his range at short and his arm, though I believe both would work just fine on the other side of second and will cover you at shortstop if needed. Both guys may have more of a utility player future than a starting future though.

In rookie ball the Reds saw success from both of the main shortstops. In Billings the 37th rounder in the 2012 draft Zach Vincej hit .336/.393/.434 in 163 trips to the plate. His plate discipline was so-so and he didn’t show much power, but Vincej has his game built around defense. Despite good offensive numbers his unsustainable high BABIP along with questionable peripherals leave open plenty of questions moving forward. Down in Arizona the Reds 2012 12th rounder Brent Peterson hit .291/.377/.383 with good plate discipline and showed off some good speed with 15 steals in just 38 games. Unlike Vincej though, Peterson probably won’t remain at shortstop and profiles most likely as a utility guy who can play multiple positions with a solid bat and speed on the bases.

Overall Thoughts

Shortstop is a very questionable position in the system. While Didi Gregorius is arguably a Top 100 prospect in baseball there probably isn’t another shortstop in the system who can stay at the position until you get to rookie ball and there are real questions about his bat. I would say that the position is a Grade C- only because it can be carried by a true prospect and there is at least some depth even if most of the guys won’t stick there, they can at least cover the position in a pinch. The spot has taken a big step backwards from last year with the graduation of Cozart and Billy Hamilton making the move to another position.

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15 Responses

  1. rob w

    So if we trade Cozart/Didi who will fill in if there’s an injury? Is Valdez coming back next year?

    • Doug Gray

      They will most certainly bring in a back up veteran type of guy.

      • IndyRedsFan

        I expect the Braves will non-tender Janish….and if they do, I’d expect to see him back in spring training with the Reds, likely on a minor league deal.
        Valdez may be back on a minor league deal as well.

  2. sultan of swaff

    The Reds better tread lightly here. An injury to Cozart or Phillips would leave us thin if we trade Didi. However, I would be open to a trade IF it netted us the LF we need. Over on Redleg Nation, someone mentioned Adam Eaton, and I thought that was a good proposal—high OBP, cost-costrolled, plus defense.

    As for which guy I’d keep if forced to choose, I’d say Didi. Admittedly, his offensive floor is a bit shaky, but the ceiling is higher…..and Cozart will net a bigger return as well.

    • RobL

      Eaton is interesting, but he is off the table for all the reasons you mentioned. The Dbacks have already traded Young, and may still trade Upton or Parra. Eaton is staying put.

    • Doug Gray

      Adam Eaton isn’t being moved. He is the reason they traded Young. He is the reason they are looking at trading Upton. He is the reason they are ok moving Parra.

  3. Randy in Chatt

    You can also move BH back to shortstop if we were too thin over the next couple of years. Not ideal, but a possibility. CF’ers a little easier to find than SS overall.

  4. sultan of swaff

    I would guess SS would be the top priority in the draft, given that we have quality arms at all levels. Anyone know if this will be a deep draft at this position?

    • Doug Gray

      I don’t know, but either way, it is probably too early to tell. With a season left to play there is a lot of movement for guys still.

    • The Duke

      BPA, always in the draft. All things equal, i’d want:

      Right Handed Power Bat

    • Doug Gray

      I wouldn’t sign him. He is coming off of a BABIP inflated season and is due for a major correction. But teams will pay him like he is a .300/.350/.450 hitter, but his peripherals suggest he is more like a .260/.325/.425 hitter. Sure, you can play that in left field if you are paying him $5M, but he isn’t going to sign for that.

  5. UncleWeez

    What about Tanner Rahier? I know he didn’t play much SS (if any) this year, but that was only rookie ball and he was drafted as a SS. He’s got the arm for it, though I don’t know much else about his defense. I’m assuming its already pretty clear he can’t play there?

    • Doug Gray

      Yeah, he spent his year at 3B and some scouts have even suggested he was a good fit for the outfield (pre-draft).