We conclude our look at the minor league depth at shortstop. Shortstop is a position the Mets may need to permanently fill this offseason, and even if it’s not, it’s still a position where they need to have quality depth and reliable players who can step in for long periods if necessary. Ruben Tejada is the choice for now, but he is unlikely to become a dynamic offensive player, and he may fit in better at second base or as a back up player.
Behind Tejada on the depth chart is Jordany Valdespin, who had one of the best seasons of any prospect in the Mets system in 2011. Valdespin has incredible athleticism and showed this past year that he can be a dynamic offensive force. In the past he has had problems with discipline and attitude, which was less of an issue this year. He has not walked or stolen enough bases, both of which he improved upon this past year; and he has not always put forth full effort all the time, concerns he has not yet eliminated. Valdespin is not quite ready for the big leagues, just getting a promotion to AAA late in the season, but if he can continue to do what he did in 2011, it shouldn’t be too much longer until making his big league debut is a real possibility.
Another shortstop of great notoriety is Wilmer Flores. Flores had a little bit of a disappointing season in 2011, and it’s still not known if he’ll stay at shortstop, but he has worked hard to stay there, and he undoubtedly has the arm to play on the left side of the infield. There will be no rushing Flores to the big leagues, so time will eventually answer these questions. A young shortstop that played full-season ball for the first time in 2011 is Wilfredo Tovar. Tovar is a brilliant defensive player, who could play either middle infield spot, but he is a true legitimate shortstop defensively. He was streaky offensively this past year, but he’s a contact guy who puts the ball in play. With such a small frame he will never hit for power, but his glove will give him a chance to play in the big leagues one day if he can hit enough, but he just turned 20 and is a few years away.
The Mets also had a few rookie shortstops that had solid seasons in 2011. T.J. Rivera, Chad Zurcher, Juan Carlos Gamboa, and Phillip Evans are all guys who may warrant watching. Rivera and Zurcher both had good seasons for Brooklyn and Kingsport respectively, putting up typical shortstop numbers with little power but hitting for a good average and getting on base. Juan Carlos Gamboa is a native of Mexico and played in the U.S. for the first time in 2011, and ended up finishing the season in Savannah, to help the Gnats during their playoff run. Gamboa is only 5’7’’, but he hit 3 homeruns and 4 doubles during his 19-game stint in Kingsport. Evans was drafted in the 15th round and signed for well over slot. He was arguably one of the top 100 players available in the draft and the fact that the Mets signed him is a big deal. In the few games he played in the GCL and in Kingsport he swung the bat well.
Further down the farm system the Mets have a couple of recent international signings at shortstop in Alfredo Reyes and Leon Canelon that played in the Dominican Summer League this past year, and have gained a little notoriety from scouts and Mets executives.
At shortstop, the Mets are pretty well balanced in the farm system from top to bottom. If they have to replace Jose Reyes, they do have options from within, and there is a chance that more options will continue to present themselves for years to come, which is nice to have at such a critical position.