When looking ahead to the 2019 season, shortstop might be the most complete position on the Rockies top to bottom. Trevor Story will begin his fourth season as the primary shortstop, and has little to no threat of being supplanted there. Trevor is coming off of a career year in which he made his first All-Star game, won a Silver Slugger award, and finished 8th in NL MVP voting.
The Rockies also have their numbers 1 and 2 prospects (according to Baseball Prospectus) competing for starting roles in Spring Training as back-up options, and ample talent in the minor league system. Regardless, the Rockies will be in good shape in 2019 with Trevor Story, one of the most exciting players in baseball, holding down the left side of the infield with Nolan Arenado.
In their most recent “Top 100 Right Now” release, MLB Network ranked Trevor Story the number 30 best player in baseball, and number 3 shortstop overall. Story is coming off a career-best season full of accolades in which he slashed a robust .291/.348/.567, hit 37 home runs, and an impressive 127 wRC+. That .567 slugging percentage led all qualified shortstops, as did his .276 ISO. Power has always been a big tool in Trevor’s game, so maybe it’s even more impressive that he led all shortstops in wOBA (.384) last year, too.
Hitting the ball isn’t the only thing Story did exceptionally well in 2019. Trevor made a name for himself by hitting devastating bombs, but truly transformed himself into a 5-tool player. He was 27-for-33 on stolen base attempts and nearly became the first Rockies player to join the 30-30 club since Larry Walker in 1997. With that speed and power combo, Story became the first shortstop to ever reach 40 doubles, 30 home runs, and 25 stolen bases in a season, and joined Alex Rodriguez as the only shortstops to have 30 home runs, 100 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases in a season since 1920. Trevor is truly writing his own superstar story.
Story is only 26 years old and is entering his first arbitration eligible season—the Rockies will have him under team control for three more years and he won’t hit free agency until 2022. Trevor has also increased the total number of games played in each season so far, from 97 in ‘16, to 145 in ‘17, and an impressive 157 last year. He is proving to have a lock on the shortstop position in terms of talent and durability, and the Rockies can depend on their young superstar to put up eye-popping numbers while staying on the field. Sorry, Rockies prospects, but you might need to find a new path to the big leagues!
If for some reason Trevor can’t maintain control of the shortstop helm, the Rockies can turn to two of their top organizational prospects, Garrett Hampson and Brendan Rodgers.
Garrett has the immediate advantage based on experience—he had an impressive major league debut last year hitting .275/.396/.400 for a 108 wRC+ in 24 games, which was good enough to include him on the Postseason roster. I detailed Hampson’s impressive bat and contact skills in my 2018 Ranking the Rockies, but he also brings a highly touted 70 speed grade, according to FanGraphs, and like Story, is a major threat on the base paths.
Rodgers, of course, has a much higher ceiling than Hampson. He has demolished minor league pitching throughout his professional career but might need a little more Triple-A seasoning (where he stumbled last year) before becoming a major league stalwart. Regardless, his potential to become a national star for the Rockies, like Trevor Story or Nolan Arenado, has the fanbase excited to see him in action—as evidenced by his fifth straight year as the no. 1 PuRP, voted on and determined by this community.
Notably, FanGraphs had this to say about Rodgers after giving him a 60 FV tag last year:
He’s hit everywhere he’s been since high school and continues to look fine, if unspectacular, at shortstop. He’s above average in every way at the plate (the bat control, power, feel for opposite-field contact, ability to punish mistakes), which means he’s got a good chance to be an All-Star if he stays at shortstop, and it looks like he’s going to.
The Rockies want nothing more for Trevor Story than to stay healthy and on the field, but in case disaster strikes, we can take solace knowing two incredible talents in Hampson and Rodgers are behind him on the depth chart, and are more than capable at handling the position and hitting well in this lineup.
On the farm
Further down the pipeline, the Rockies still have ample talent capable of handling shortstop, though they are years away from developing to a major league level.
First and foremost there is Ryan Vilade (no. 9 PuRP), currently playing SS for the Asheville Tourists, though many consider him to be a future third baseman. Vilade is ranked as the Rockies’ number 10 prospect according to Baseball Prospectus, and at age 20, has time to really climb the minor league ranks before the Rockies need him. FanGraphs gives him a 45 FV thanks in large part to his 50+ tool grades in every category except speed.
Other notable names for the Rockies playing shortstop are Terrin Vavra (no. 13 PuRP), who was selected in the 3rd round of the 2018 draft, and Coco Montes, who fell just shy of the PuRP Honorable Mentions at no. 36 overall. Vavra slashed .302/.396/.467 for Low-A Boise last year, a 142 wRC+, and Montes slashed .333/.413/.513 for Grand Junction, a 137 wRC+. Both had impressive professional debuts, and will be watched with increased interest in 2019 and beyond as high-upside, dependable shortstops for the Rockies.