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Like the previously reviewed second base position, it’s double-play partner shortstop is also deep, lower in the minors. As you will see from the chart below, the players with the three highest wRC+ scores are at the Low-A level and below. Unlike any of the three positions I already reviewed, I am going to take defense into account for this position. Shortstop appears to be the one position the Cardinals would be willing to risk offensive production to see increased defensive production, with the major league player being the non-example. Several players on this list are known for their defensive abilities at shortstop, so it only makes sense to look at it, but there is a catch as I will get to later.
Below is the player who had the most games at shortstop for each team and their slash lines with OPS included at the end. I have also included a sabermetric stat, wRC+, on the stat line. wRC+ has a baseline of 100, thus if a player has a 125 wRC+ it means they produced 25% more runs than a league average hitter. Obviously these are limited stats and you can click on their names for a better stat picture including stolen bases, strike outs, etc.
Memphis: Pete Kozma – 437 plate appearances – .248/.330/.372/.702, 8 HR, 54 RBI, 85 wRC+
Springfield: Matt Williams – 357 plate appearances – .250/.344/.306/.650, 1 HR, 25 RBI, 92 wRC+
Palm Beach: Alex Mejia – 294 plate appearances – .284/.307/.349/.656, 1 HR, 29 RBI, 85 wRC+
Peoria: Juan Herrera – 416 plate appearances – .274/.320/.364/.685, 2 HR, 56 RBI, 95 wRC+
State College: Robelys Reyes – 276 plate appearances – .284/.326/.388/.716, 3 HR, 31 RBI, 111 wRC+
Johnson City: Oscar Mercado – 274 plate appearances – .224/.303/.306/.609, 3 HR, 25 RBI, 82 wRC+
GCL Cardinals: Edmundo Sosa – 233 plate appearances – .275/.341/.377/.717, 1 HR, 23 RBI, 109 wRC+
DSL Cardinals: Allen Cordoba – 268 plate appearances – .258/.301/.328/.629, 2 HR, 18 RBI, 84 wRC+
The first thing that comes to mind looking at these numbers is the lack of offense. Only two of the eight players profiled had a wRC+ above average (100), while the lowest of the other three positions profiled was 4 (second base). This plays back into the concept that the club likes more of a defensive profile at short than an offensive one. I also admit that I was surprised to see Reyes’ numbers that high. He struck out just 27 times over 60 games and had an above average wOBA at .333. The problem is Reyes is 24-years old, thus not much of a prospect. I was also surprised to see that Herrera’s wRC+ was not average, but again it doesn’t take into account his 27 stolen bases or his plus defensive range and arm.
I have selected Edmundo Sosa as the Cardinals All-Organization Team Shortstop. Yes, Sosa had the second highest wRC+, but if you look at his all around season versus the level of competition, I believe he had the best season. I said earlier that I was going to take defense into account for this position and unfortunately, there aren’t the best defensive stats kept for minor league players. The one stat that I want to look at is fielding range. This stat show how many putouts plus assists a player makes during a game. For a shortstop it can tell us who is getting to more balls. Fielding percentage is not the best stat, especially for minor leaguers as they might be playing on sub-par infields. If we look at range, Sosa’s number was 4.38, while Herrera was a 3.57 and Reyes 4.42. The higher the number the better, but I will concede that this stat is flawed in many ways, but the best that I can find for minor leaguers.
The main thing that puts Sosa ahead for me is his age. He was about a year and a half younger than the average age of the 2014 Gulf Coast League, meaning he was playing against older, tougher competition. 225 of his 233 plate appearances were against older pitchers. On the flip side, Reyes was two years older than the average of the New York-Penn League and over 90% of his at-bats came against younger pitchers.
If we look ahead for 2015, Juan Herrera will likely be at High-A Palm Beach, where he finished 2014, Robelys Reyes could be at Low-A Peoria, where he had 23 PA’s in 2014. Edmundo Sosa will be the wildcard. Will the club push Sosa, who will be a very young 19-years old, to Peoria? Let’s say TBD on that one.