2012 draft prospects: shortstops

Arizona State's Deven Marrero could be the first shortstop selected in next year's draft. (dailylife.com)

Shortstop may be the most premium position in baseball. If you can get great ones through the draft, and groom them as leaders of your team, you can reap the awards for years. Guys like Derek Jeter, Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins are prime examples of this. The position is deep this year, and with many teams needing an upgrade at the position, we can expect to see shortstops taken off the board early. Here are seven of the best available shortstops who all have a chance at being first round picks.

Deven Marrero — 6’-1”, R/R, Arizona State

Marrero excels on both sides of the field and could be the first shortstop taken in the draft. Was a 17th-round pick by the Reds in 2009 but chose to attend Arizona State. Hit .397 with 6 HR, 42 RBI and 11 SB as a freshman, earning first-team freshman All-American by collegiate baseball while setting an Arizona State freshman record for batting average. Won Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year honors as a sophomore as his defense caught up to his offense. Shows a great approach at the plate, as he has only struck out 54 times in 96 games at ASU. Has the ideal size (6’-1”, 190), range and footwork to be a gold-glove caliber shortstop down the road. Brother Chris Marrero was a first-round pick in 2009 and made his major league debut for the Nationals this year.

(Game footage)

Gavin Cecchini — 6’-1”, R/R, Barbe HS (LA)

While Marrero may be the most major-league ready shortstop, Cecchini may have the most potential and end up being the best on this list. An incredibly gifted athlete, he hit .402 with 6 HR, 43 RBI and stole 53 bases as a junior for Barbe last season. Was the MVP of the Under Armour All-American game and is a regular on every major summer team. His swing has few moving parts and his balance allows him to make consistent contact. Has gap power and the potential to be a major run producer to go along with elite speed. Has the arm, range and footwork to maintain the position but could move to second or third because of his bat. Brother Garin Cecchini was a fourth round draft pick by the Red Sox in 2010.

(Game footage)

Kenny Diekroeger — 6’-2”, R/R, Stanford

Diekroeger is an extremely intelligent baseball player. Able to play any position on the field, shortstop is his natural position, and he should be able to stay there at the next level due to his remarkable athleticism. Was a second-round pick by the Rays in 2009 after hitting .586 with a .688 OBP but chose to attend Stanford. Was Pac-10 freshman of the year as he hit .356 with 41 RBI, becoming the first freshman to lead the team in RBI. Average slipped to .293 this year as he was still adjusting to the new NCAA bats that favor pitchers. The team that drafts him will get a professional in every sense of the word, on and off the field.

(Game footage)

Addison Russell — 6’-1”, R/R, Pace HS (FL)

With his exceptional footwork, range and canon arm, Russell defends his position effortlessly and is arguably the best defensive shortstop on the list. He does have a funky throwing motion but if ain’t broke, don’t fix it. At the plate, his fluid, line-drive swing makes consistent contact, and he should be able to develop serious power with his frame. Everything he does looks easy, and he could become a Troy Tulowitzki clone in the major leagues.

(Game footage)

Jesmuel Valentin Diaz — 5’-10”, S/R, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy

Jesmuel has a strong knowledge of the game having grown up around it. His father, Jose Valentin, was a 16-year, major-league veteran and taught his son well. He is also built like his dad — 5’-11″ and 180 lbs — and he’s a switch hitter. Has the range, soft hands and strong arm to be a very good defensive shortstop in the majors. At the plate, his short stroke generates gap-to-gap power and could develop more when he matures. Timed at 6.68/60, so should steal some bases as well. Gained a reputation as a clutch hitter throughout summer league tournaments and his stock is soaring right now.

(Game footage)

Tanner Rahier — 6’-2”, R/R, Palm Desert HS (CA)

Rahier attends Palm Desert high school but doesn’t play for the team. Instead, he plays for a spring league that uses wood bats to better prepare him for the majors. He is an extremely hard working player who has a workout regimen Rocky Balboa would be embarrassed by. His arm has been clocked at 93 mph, and his plus-range at footwork make him a legitimate shortstop at the next level. His short, compact swing generates plus-power, and his bat speed allows him to catch up to any pitch, making him a great contact hitter. Has elite speed as he runs a 6.6/60. Overall, the kid has very few holes to his game, and playing in the ABCL has given him a leg up on his peers. The talent is off the charts, but the drive is what really separates him from the rest.

(Game footage)

Carlos Correa — 6’-3”, R/R, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy

Correa, a teammate of Diaz, is the primary shortstop for the team and a defensive whiz at the position. He is very smooth in the field and has an incredibly strong and accurate arm. He could outgrow the position, but could be a top defensive third baseman because of the arm and footwork. Has good power now but should gain more as he matures. Quick wrists and good bat speed should allow him to hit for a high average at the next level. Strong work ethic and is committed to Vanderbilt, which is always a tough sign for any team.

(Game footage)

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