Prospects to Watch: Will Either of Baltimore’s Rookie Shortstops Emerge?

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With the news that Baltimore had cut ties with Alcides Escobar it would appear that the team is ready to turn their starting shortstop job over to a pair of Rule V draft picks.  Could Richie Martin (who was selected first overall in the draft) or Drew Jackson step up and emerge as a viable option?  Let’s take a look:

Richie Martin
Selected from Oakland, Martin had some success at Double-A last season:

.300 (136-453), 6 HR, 42 RBI, 68 R, 25 SB

Before you get too excited about the average, keep in mind that he benefited from a .357 BABIP and there’s risk that his strikeout rate rises.  While he posted a reasonable 16.9% strikeout rate last season, an 11.5% SwStr% shows that there’s risk as he rises into the upper levels (and he’s had 10 K over 41 AB through Wednesday this spring).

That’s an obvious issue, especially for a player who is never going to offer much power.  He showed some extra base pop (he added 29 doubles and 6 triples), but with a 57.8% groundball rate and listed at 5’11” it doesn’t appear that sudden growth is going to come.

While his speed is his best tool, he went just 25-for-35 on stolen base attempts last season.  There is at least a little bit of upside, but he’s not a player that will likely develop into a difference maker.

Drew Jackson
Selected from the Los Angeles Dodgers (and ultimately acquired in a trade), Jackson’s line at Double-A is somewhat similar to that of Martin:

.251 (86-342), 15 HR, 46 RBI, 57 R, 22 SB

Jackson could be a better fit as a utility man, with experience across the diamond.  While he has shown some potential to draw a walk (11.0% in ’18), he posted a 22.7% strikeout rate and with an 11.8% SwStr% that number could rise.

There is a little bit of power (he added 20 doubles and 1 triple), though it’s not enough to project any significant growth in his production.  Even that number is enough, mixed with a little bit of speed, though again he’s not going to bring an elite mark to the table.  You also have to wonder if strikeouts will cost him the opportunity to tap into either skill, a risk that can’t be overlooked.

It’s possible that he provides 10/10 production, but he’ll need to cutdown on the strikeouts to fully tap into the upside.  With that being hard to necessarily believe, it’s a stretch to think that he makes much of an impact.

Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com

Make sure to check out all of our 2019 Top 10 Prospect Lists:

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