Short Supply of Shortstops (2003 Minor League SS)

Nomar Garciaparra is the incumbent Red Sox shortstop. To see a review of Nomar, check the archives, the article in which I discuss a possible Nomar/A-Rod switcheroo. (Posted 1.7.04)
Breaking down the shortstop prospects:
Pawtucket- Kelly Dransfeldt
Portland- Jim Goelz, Raul Nieves
Sarasota- Kenny Perez
Augusta- Hanley Ramirez, Eric West
Lowell- Ignacio Suarez, Zachary Borowiak
GCL- Alexander Penalo, Dirimo Chavez
Drandsfelt is a non-factor. Rotoworld lists him as 29. He is purely a “good field, no hit” breed. Just a spot plugger.
Jim Goelz played for three of the Red Sox’s clubs. The highest he played for was AAA, in which he had an unimpressive cup of coffee. He hit well enough in Sarasota to go up to Portland, where he spent the majority of the season. He was originally with the Indians, but came over to the Red Sox. I’m not sure how he got here. Off the top of my head, I would say it was through the Angel Santos trade. Anyways, for AA, he had both a paltry AVG, OBP, and SLG. He is a very good fielder, however. Raul Nieves is certainly better than Goelz – but not by much. He spent the majority of his time at Portland, going .249/.317/.289 (AVG/OBP/SLG) in 252 ABs, playing 12 games at second, sixty at shortstop with nine errors. He’s also of the utility infielder type. Has a better chance than Goelz to make it.
Now we’re getting into the brighter spots. Kenny Perez, in 230 ABs, hit .278 with a .319 OBP and .413 SLG. He had a fair number of doubles with 17, and had an 11-4 Stolen BaseLCaught Stealing (SB:CS) ratio. In sixty two games as a shortstop, he made seven errors. So far, this is the best of the minor league crop. He’s better than all of the above, and could make a very good utility infielder.
Ah, yes…Hanley Ramirez. Red Sox Prospects has the following to say about him: Athletic five-tool shortstop with great instincts. Very young, with above average speed, power,
and contact. Good range with an average arm. Has all-star potential. However, may have struggled at dealing with all the hype – most reports list Hanley as the #1 prospect in the organization. He has been very inconsistent throughout his second season, and has had some problems with immaturity, having a few run-ins with management which earned him suspensions. Highest ceiling in organization.
All of this is certainly true. He hit .275/.327/.403 with a 36:13 SB:CS. In 102 games as a SS, he had 32 errors – ouch! He’s only twenty, though. He had a great season last year, and even though he slipped slightly, he still remains on track to be a solid shortstop. That fielding needs to be fixed though. And that attitute needs to be (and is being) dealt with. If it doesn’t improve, trade him. I don’t care if he’s the second coming of Nomar…trade him. The clubhouse is too important…more important than we may all think. When I played junior league, the team kinda liked each other. We kinda lost most of our games. When I played senior league, pretty much everyone had agendas. We lost every game. Now I play big league. Everyone loved everyone, rallied around everyone, so on and so forth. We kinda finished in first. Let me just add, for clarification, that we had a much better big league team than when I was on junior/senior. It still stands, though.
Eric West is of the Nieves and Goeltz variety. So is Ignacio Suarez. And don’t forget Zachary Borowiak.
And that brings us to the last of the Red Sox shortstops. Fortunately, Theo made the right decisions with Alexander Penalo and Dirimo Chavez. Penalo had only 82 ABs for GCL, but impressed with a .305/.370/.402 line and a 15:4 CS:SB. His fielding was atrocious (32 G, 15 E). Dirimo Chavez, however, had a lot more at-bats and holds more promise. For GCL, he had 111 ABs and a .342/.413/.378 line, and played all infield positions besides pitcher and catcher. He logged 12 games as SS, 19 as 2B. (He should belong in the 2B rankings, but givin the lack of talent in the minors other than Ramirez and possibly Penalo, he’ll most likely see more time at SS as he progresses.) He also impressed in the Dominican Summer League in 39 at-bats. Watch this feller.
The Red Sox prospects at shortstop are rather dissapointing. Other than Ramirez and Chavez, I can see no one to get excited about. Hopefully Theo will start to concentrate his assets on the infield in his next draft. He has mostly been building up outfield and pitching. But you can’t win games without infielders, either, can you? Is it possible we have found a weakness of Theo? No, really, think about it. He hasn’t shown a gift (yet) for finding the right SS (and 2B) people. It could change, though. He might have done it with Bellhorn, Reese, Ramirez, Chavez…or maybe not. It’s something to keep an eye on.

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