Billy Hamilton heads the group of shortstops with incredible speed and athleticism. He is still a few years away, but there is a lot to hope for when it comes to Hamilton. Coming off of a season where he hit .278/.340/360 for Dayton, there were big improvements in the final two months where he hit .333/.402/.408 with 29 walks and 54 strikeouts. He has a ways to go offensively still where his pitch recognition is still a work in progress, but the improvements later in the season were very promising to see. He will never hit for any power, but his speed will allow for some extra base hits that others may not get. Defensively, he has range that is nearly unrivaled. He will get to baseballs that really good shortstops only dream of. However he doesn’t have great hands and he struggled with a throwing problem throughout the first part of the season before making some improvements in his arm angle that helped his throwing errors dry up some.

Zack Cozart is about as ready as they will get within the system. He is coming off of a season where he hit .310/.357/.467 for Louisville and then .324/.324/.486 with the Reds in 11 games before injuring his elbow and missing the rest of the season. His power is going to be above average for the position and defensively he is at worst, an average defender, but is probably closer to being above average with good range and a good arm to go along with above average hands. He should be the Reds starting shortstop in 2012.

Didi Gregorius began the season on the disabled list with kidney issues, but once he came back he hit very well for the Bakersfield Blaze, posting a .303/.333/.457 line in 203 plate appearances before earning a promotion to Carolina. Once in AA his numbers took a step backward where he posted a .270/.312/.392 line. Gregorius is likely to begin in AA Pensacola next year. Offensively, he is a low strikeout and low walk type of hitter with a bit more power potential than his numbers would suggest. Defensively, he has above average range, hands and a plus arm making him a potentially very strong defensive shortstop.

Devin Lohman had an up and down year. He began the year as the Dayton Dragons second baseman, opposite of Billy Hamilton. From a peripherals perspective, he wasn’t as bad as the .208/.269/.256 line would suggest and his coaches suggested that he was hitting the ball hard but that he just wasn’t finding the holes. When the Billings season began, he was sent to play shortstop for the Mustangs and his offense picked up with a .322/.420/.461 line with much improved plate discipline. He was then promoted to Bakersfield where he was also the starting shortstop and his offense picked up even more with a .331/.400/.554 line with better plate discipline than he had shown with Dayton. Lohman isn’t the hitter that he was in Dayton and he isn’t the hitter that he was in Billings or Bakersfield and probably lies somewhere in the middle. Defensively, he doesn’t profile to be a special defender, but he has a chance to stick at the position and provides plenty of depth to the position in the system.

Overall Thoughts

There is some good depth at the position throughout the system. There are two great athletes with Gregorius and Hamilton, a for sure Major Leaguer who projects to be at least average in Zack Cozart and a few other guys who at the very least have some good things going for them between previously mentioned Lohman, Humberto Valor who has some tools and spent a full season with the AZL Reds at age 18, Juan Perez who hit a combined .316/.393/.488 between Arizona and Billings (though I will be honest and say that I don’t know if he can stick at the position defensively because I haven’t seen any reports on him) and Miguel Rojas who is one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball. I would say that the position is probably a solid B with its depth and potential.