During the last five Major League Baseball amateur drafts, an average of 85 shortstops have been selected and signed by a team. Some will ascend through the ranks and eventually make it to the majors as shortstops, while others will never even play an inning in the big leagues. For others, they will have to change positions to improve their chances of making it to “the show” as a major leaguer. Change can either be driven by the skill set of the player or the needs of the team. In many cases, a player’s defensive skills and/or size may translate better at a different position – Detroit Tiger second baseman Ian Kinsler falls into that category.
Other times, there may be a logjam within the organization that prompts the team to change a player’s position rather than trade them. A recent example would be Billy Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds, who was moved to centerfield despite already being recognized as a top-50 prospect at shortstop. The Reds had their current starting shortstop, Zack Cozart, and Didi Gregorius ahead of Hamilton in the pipeline. Cincinnati opted to trade Gregorius to the Arizona Diamondbacks and move the switch-hitting Hamilton to the outfield in order to take advantage of his game-changing speed.
In some cases, injury can be the impetus for a position change – this was the case for Redmond High graduate Jeff D’Amico. After a knee injury in the minor leagues, the former second-round draft choice of the Oakland Athletics initially moved to third base. While rehabbing a subsequent injury to the same knee, he caught the attention of the club while throwing at batting practice. The team was impressed enough by his hurling to move D’Amico to the mound.
Fortunately for those who do change positions, the athleticism that permitted them to play shortstop at the amateur level helps make transitioning an easier proposition. When I started looking at drafted shortstops who later moved to a new position, I was surprised by some of the names that I found and their new positions. It’s easy to picture a former shortstop at another infield position, or even the outfield. But, there are players who excelled as a catcher or a pitcher, including a well-known New York Yankee and a record-setting closer for the San Diego Padres.
With that in mind, I decided to compile a lineup composed of player who were drafted shortstops and were moved to another position during their minor league progression.
A few notes:
1. My selection pool included the last 25 drafts to produce a major league shortstop (1989-2013).
2. Players had to play less than 10 games at shortstop during their major league career.
3. Drafted position is based on the position listed on the MLB.com draft history page for each amateur draft.
4. The player had to be listed as a shortstop during the draft that they signed. There were plenty of instances when a shortstop was drafted out of high school or community college, opted to not sign, and was later signed at a position other than shortstop. I did not include any of those players on my list.
|Repositioned Shortstop Starting Lineup|
|1B||Allen Craig||2006||256||STL||University of California-Berkeley|
|2B||Dustin Pedroia||2004||65||BOS||Arizona St University|
|3B||Manny Machado||2010||3||BAL||Brito Miami Private School (FL)|
|LF||Justin Upton||2005||1||ARZ||Great Bridge HS (VA)|
|RF||Michael Cuddyer||1997||9||MIN||Great Bridge HS (VA)|
|CF||Adam Jones||2003||37||SEA||Samuel Morse HS (CA)|
|C||Jorge Posada||1990||629||NYY||Calhoun State Community College (AL)|
|SP||Robert Person||1989||643||CLE||Seminole Junior College (OK)|
|RP||Trevor Hoffman||1989||288||CIN||University of Arizona|
The lineup is pretty impressive with the starting pitcher spot being the only weak area. I didn’t include a designated hitter, although the list of players below has a few candidates that could easily fill the role. There are others who had brief major league careers.
|Other Notable Former Shortstops|
|1B/3B||Wes Helms||1994||286||ATL||Ashbrook HS (NC)|
|2B||Ian Kinsler||2003||496||TEX||University of Missouri|
|2B||Jeff Kent||1989||521||TOR||University of California-Berkeley|
|3B||Mike Moustakas||2007||2||KCR||Chatsworth HS (CA)|
|OF||Billy Hamilton||2009||57||CIN||Taylorsville HS (MS)|
|OF||Preston Wilson||1992||9||NYM||Bamberg Ehrhardt HS (SC)|
|OF||Michael Tucker||1992||10||KCR||Longwood University|
|C||Jose Morales||2001||77||MIN||Academia de Providencia HS (PR)|
|C||Michael Barrett||1995||28||MON||Pace Academy HS (GA)|
|SP||Chris Sampson||1999||263||HOU||Texas Tech University|
|RP||Sergio Santos||2002||27||ARZ||Mater Dei HS (Santa Ana, CA)|
|RP||Casey Kelly||2008||30||BOS||Sarasota HS (FL)|
|RP||Jeff D’Amico||1993||67||OAK||Redmond HS (WA)|
|RP||Bryan Corey||1993||333||DET||Los Angeles Pierce College|
|RP||Chad Orvella||2003||368||TBR||North Carolina St University|