Top 6 Prospects: Shortstop

Henson may move to 3B or the OF

Not surprisingly, shortstop is home to some of the best athletes in the organization. The Orioles have several in-house candidates to be the eventual successor to Miguel Tejada. Find out how they rank inside.

1) Tyler Henson - (Aberdeen Ironbirds/Frederick Keys) - (73 G, 273 AB, .275/.338/.425)

Henson took a major step forward with the bat this season. He is an excellent athlete with plus speed. The 19 year old has good range, but his hands were stiff at times. His arm is plenty strong for third base and that would be his natural next stop if he didn't have so much trouble getting a handle on some of his throws this season. Henson doesn't project to hit for much more than a ~.270-.280 batting average, but his power/speed combination could make him valuable even if he has to move to the outfield.

2) Blake Davis - (Frederick Keys/Bowie Baysox) - (128 G, 472 AB, .271/.338/.375)

After a hot start, Davis came back down to earth in a 35-game double-A trial. He did end the season well, but only after getting demoted back to Frederick. The 23 year old is a legitimate big league shortstop, but he's more steady than a defensive wizard. He was worked out at second base and in the outfield in anticipation of his most likely role in the major leagues- utility player.

3) Luis Hernandez - (Bowie Baysox/Norfolk Tides) - (101 G, 397 AB, .244/.276/.312)

After what was perceived by many to be lackadaisical play on the part of Miguel Tejada, Baltimore fans appreciated the high-energy play of Luis Hernandez in his major league trial. He's an excellent defensive shortstop who can steal bases and do all the little things. Unfortunately, after three years in the upper minors, it's becoming clear that Hernandez can not hit. He turned 23 years old this season, so let's not close the book on him just yet. He has the tools to be a decent hitter for average, but Hernandez will have to improve his approach and get on base more if he wants to be more than a reserve.

4) Pedro Florimon - (Delmarva Shorebirds) - (111 G, 371 AB, .197/.257/.272)

Well, that sure didn't go well. After a promising 2006 in rookie-ball, Florimon flopped in his full-season stateside debut. He could often be seen flailing at off-speed stuff outside of the strike zone and will almost certainly repeat low-A next year. Defensively, he has all the tools to stick at shortstop, but his concentration tended to lapse at times, resulting in a few multi-error games.

5) Malcolm Crowley - (Bluefield Orioles) - (9 G, 31 AB, .258/.343/.323)

The O's stole Crowley away from a commitment to Sam Houston State when they nabbed him in the 9th round of this year's draft. His would-be coach, Javier Solis, claimed "He is a hard nosed player. It would be great to have 9 kids like him. The best way to describe the way he plays is to compare him to Pete Rose."

"He played shortstop here and he was an offensive shortstop. He can play second base as well, but he was our shortstop."

The Orioles intend to split Crowley between the middle infield positions to increase his versatility. The 20 year old has average speed and good contact skills.

6) Jason White - (Bluefield Orioles) - (63 G, 252 AB, .282/.355/.413)

White was an all-field no-hit shortstop until his senior season at Iowa. He took his weight training seriously and immediately saw results at the plate. Although a player that turned 23 years old in June is supposed to tear up rookie-ball, White had a fine showing. He's not an overly polished defender, but he has true shortstop actions and range. He'll have to move fast to stay on the radar, but the potential is there.

Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via e-mail at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com

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