Richard Justice

Short story: Future bright for young talent at SS

Short story: Future bright for young talent at SS

They're arriving in waves now, these young shortstops. Gifted players, dazzling talents. Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor. Corey Seager and Addison Russell. They may end up being generational-type players, capable of transforming an entire franchise.

There's more on the way -- J.P. Crawford of the Phillies, Dansby Swanson of the Braves and Trea Turner of the Nationals. Shortstops have five of the top 10 spots on's Top 100 Prospects list.

Has it ever been like this before? Is this the golden age for the position? OK, we'll take a deep breath and count to five.

In the early 1980s, Ozzie Smith, Robin Yount, Cal Ripken and Alan Trammell played the position in the same era. Smith, Yount and Ripken are in the Hall of Fame, and Trammell should be.

Ozzie's spectacular diving stop

Whether this generation has three future Hall of Famers is part of the story we can watch unfold over the next few seasons. For now, though, the joy is watching them play.

Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford is generally acknowledged as the best veteran shortstop in the game. Veteran is a relative term since Crawford has played just four full seasons and is only 29 years old.

This is about the young guys, the current generation and those who are right on their heels.

Here's a top 10 list of the 25-and-under shortstop class:

1. Correa, 21, Astros
Correa is still six weeks away from the one-yer anniversary of his Major League debut at 20. In 99 games last season, he had a .857 OPS and helped lead the Astros to their first postseason berth in a decade. Correa plays with energy and confidence, and he has the kind of outgoing personality that could make him one of the faces of baseball for a long time.

Statcast: Correa's home run

2. Lindor, 22, Indians
Indians fans believed their guy was better than Correa last season, and that he's the one who should have won the American League Rookie of the Year Award. This debate may last awhile since Lindor is 22 years old and has played all of 109 games. His career .823 OPS (Correa's is .856) is more than respectable, and it could be headed toward spectacular.

Lindor's solo homer

3. Seager, 21, Dodgers
Some scouts believe Seager will be one of the top five players in baseball by the end of this season. In his first 39 Major League games, his career batting average is .313. Beyond the numbers, Seager moves naturally at shortstop and seems absolutely unimpressed that an entire franchise is counting on him to be the next great Dodger.

Seager's barehanded play

4. Xander Bogaerts, 23, Red Sox
Bogaerts has been hyped as a top prospect for so long that it sometimes seems he has been around forever. But he's still only 23 years old and has played just two full seasons in the Majors. When Bogaerts hit .320 last season and played a slick shortstop, it became clear he hadn't been oversold.

Bogaerts' two-run double

5. Russell, 22, Cubs
Russell hit .242 last season while splitting time between short and second. This season, he's a full-time shortstop, and his manager, Joe Maddon, believes he's going to take a huge step forward. Russell began Tuesday hitting just .244, but he has eight hits in his past seven games, and the Cubs remain confident he's going to do spectacular things.

Russell's RBI single in the 8th

6. Trevor Story, 23, Rockies
Story introduced himself to the big leagues with six home runs in his first four games and seven in his first six. This was a continuation of a spring in which he batted .340 with six home runs to win a spot on the roster. Story may have some bumps in the road as he settles in, but the future couldn't be brighter.

Story writes history

7. Marcus Semien, 25, Athletics
The A's stuck with Semien even after 35 errors last season. They believe those errors aren't indicative of the defensive player he's going to be. They also believe if the franchise stays patient and continues giving him chances to play, he will reward them in a big way -- both in the field and at the plate.

Semien's two homers

8. Crawford, 21, Phillies (Double-A Reading) ranks Crawford as the No. 3 prospect in the game. In terms of skills, there are few better in the game. He has range and speed and instincts. If not for a thumb injury last fall, Crawford might have opened the season with the Phils. Regardless, he's likely to make his Major League debut at some point this season.

Top Prospects: Crawford, PHI

9. Swanson, 22, Braves (Class A Advanced Carolina)
Like Crawford, Swanson is probably not going to play many more Minor League games. He's the cornerstone of the Braves' reconstruction project. He may not be the next Chipper Jones, but Atlanta believes Swanson might be the face of the franchise when the club moves into a new ballpark next April.

Top Prospects: Swanson, ATL

10. Aledmys Diaz, 25, Cardinals
Diaz isn't in the big leagues just because the Cards have had a string of injuries at the position. He passed every test in Spring Training, and St. Louis decided to rewrite his timetable. Diaz has started just eight games, but he's hitting .400. He has been viewed as a defense-first player, but he may be a reminder that the best prospects sometimes answer every challenge.

Diaz's two-run double

Honorable mention: Turner (Nationals, Triple-A Syracuse), Orlando Arcia (Brewers, Triple-A Colorado Springs), Brendan Rodgers (Rockies, Class A Asheville), Ozzie Albies (Braves, Double-A Mississippi).

Richard Justice is a columnist for Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.