KEEPERS: 2013 Dynasty reload—SS

This is the fifth of a 10-column series designed to help owners playing in keeper league (KL) and dynasty formats address their weak spots over the next three to five seasons. Beginning now through mid-January, we'll be putting forth by-position lists of our favorite players and prospects who could 1) be relatively available in your leagues; and 2) earn double-digit dollars sometime between 2013 and 2015.

Our filter uses the following criterion:

  • Player must be growth-age—27 years old—or younger as of April 1
  • Player must have earned less than $10 in 2012
  • Player must have accumulated at least 100 AB above A+ ball

Identifying unclaimed dynasty shortstops a year or less away from MLB play is like spotting unicorns.  But even though most established SS and SS prospects are likely firmly entrenched on one of your league's rosters, there are always a few-and-far-between options and possibilities worth exploring.  An example from last year's list was Everth Cabrera, whose 44 SB fueled a $16 earnings drive following a lost 2011.  And one or two of the following names could step up similarly in 2013.

Like Cabrera, Dee Gordon (SS, LA) ran his way to double-digit earnings in his MLB debut before struggling though a 2012 follow-up that was plagued with erratic play, injuries and skills deterioration.  Gordon's contact rate plunged from 88% in 2011 to 80%, which exposed his sub-par patience and total lack of power.  The resulting .228/.245 BA/xBA combo, some atrocious defense, a thumb injury and LA's acquisition of Hanley Ramirez eventually cost him his SS job—and put him squarely on the winter trade block.  But the athletic, 24-year-old Gordon still owns elite speed to go with 66 SBs at an 80% SB% during his short time in the bigs.  Watch where he lands or how the Dodgers intend to use him.

Jean Segura (SS, MIL) is a SS prospect with real opportunity and a running game that compares well with the best of this genre. The 22-year-old Segura has likely been rushed a little, but he flashed his upside with an 85% ct% and a 7/1 SB/CS mark during August and September. That 174 Spd and his 137 minor league SB in spite of multiple leg injuries further point to his potential.  Segura could struggle early, and a thick lower body has some observers wondering whether he may eventually may be moved to 2B—but health permitting, he should produce quickly.  Buy Segura for the SBs while you wait for the rest of his game to develop.

Andrelton Simmons (SS, ATL) may not have qualified for this list were it not for a broken hand that knocked him out of MLB action for two months. Following an early June call-up, Simmons had been showing offensive skills that per expectations featured near-elite contact, gap power and good speed that still hasn't translated into a meaningful running game.  But he held his own, and both the tools and opportunity are there.  He could earn low double-digit dollars on BA and counting stats alone while you wait for more upside down the road.

Thanks to his 15 HR, Zack Cozart (SS, CIN) came within an eyelash of already being profitable for this group.  His 102 PX and above-average power for a SS looks legit—and that HR total could improve if he matches his 9 road HR in his extremely HR-friendly home venue.  And at age 27, a 128 Spd and decent SB% suggests that there's at least some short-term upside to those 4 SB.  But in spite of an 80% ct%, a stagnant 5% bb% and a BA/xBA combo that hovers near or below .250 says that the upside is limited from here.  Pay for the double-digit HR, and compensate for the BA elsewhere.

Ruben Tejada (SS, NYM) made last year's list, and a $9 season puts him just short of graduation.  But playing time and a h%-fueled .289 BA accounted for pretty much all of Tejada's profitability, as his bb% plunged from 10% to 5%, and a running game that showed modest potential never materialized.  His age (23), a mid-80% contact and a perennially good LD% keep Tejada interesting.  But unless his patience rebounds and he can somehow put a 112 Spd to better use—or he develops some power as he matures—his upside is limited from here.  He's a low-profit playing time target for now. 

Now with hindsight and amid new offseason rumors suggesting a potential Ian Kinsler move to 1B, Jurickson Profar (SS/2B, TEX) may have belonged on our 2B list—since that will be his position if the rumor becomes fact.  On the other hand, there have also been rumblings about a potential Elvis Andrus trade, suggesting that Profar's primary position over the short-term remains up in the air.  Regardless, he's a SS by trade, has above-average offensive tools across the board, and the Rangers are looking for ways to get him into the lineup in 2012.  If you can persuade his current owner that his playing time and positional concerns are real, have at it.  Because sometime either this year or next, Profar is likely to begin a long run as a dynasty mainstay, regardless of position.

Both Josh Rutledge (SS/2B, COL) and Logan Forsythe (2B, SD) were profiled in our 2B reload column a few weeks ago. But Rutledge still projects as oft-injured Troy Tulowitzki's backup, a spot from which he now qualifies in 20/5 leagues thanks to Tulo's 2012 issues.  And while Forsythe is currently a decent bet to see most of his time at 2B, any drop-off from Everth Cabrera could make him the SD SS over the short haul.  

Missed our cut, but worth mentioning:

Brian Dozier (MIN):  Really struggled to make hard contact in his MLB debut at 2B, though 2H running game showed signs.  Career .298 minor league BA and potential move to SS keep him watchable.

Eduardo Nunez (SS/3B, NYY):  Jeter's—and now ARod's—injury make him watchable.  Moped through a minor league demotion and injuries didn't help.  But he still owns elite speed and those 22 SB over 309 AB in 2011. 

Didi Gregorius (SS, CIN): 21-year-old blocked by Cozart and his own inexperience, this athletic SS is probably a year away. Offense is behind his defense development-wise, but he has good physical tools and a career .271 BA through AAA.

Xander Bogaerts (SS, BOS): Precocious 19-year-old hit .307 with 20 HR in 476 A+/AA AB.  He's at least another year away, but he's the Red Sox' #1 prospect and there's no one blocking him right now.

Brad Miller (SS, SEA):  Unheralded prospect now with a career .341 BA / .927 OPS over 610 AB that includes 147 AB at AA Jackson.  His venues have helped, but he has outstanding patience and at least gap power. Defense will determine whether he can stay at the position, but SEA needs offense.



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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.