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-James in Renfrew, PA
MLBPW: Thanks for the lob to start with, James. Geez. Luckily the Pirates don't have to pick between the two because it wouldn't be an easy choice. Cole has yet to throw a professional pitch, so that always makes him a riskier choice, but just given his age and the fact that even though he hasn't appeared professionally yet, he's still much closer to the majors than Taillon. That's really the only difference between the two at this point - age and proximity to the majors. They are both immensely talented, although Cole does throw a little harder, and his off-speed stuff is a little more refined. But that's to be expected. Don't be shocked to see Taillion in a few years exactly where Cole is now.
Q: Who is the best shortstop prospect in the game today?
-Jaquan in Oakland, CA
MLBPW: There's a couple different ways to answer this question. The best defensive shortstops are probably Freddy Galvis of the Phillies and Jose Iglesias of the Red Sox, but there are serious questions about whether either one will hit enough to play full-time, especially Galvis. So they can't be considered the best shortstop prospects in the game. There are also some serious prospects that are shortstops right now, but will never play shortstop in the majors, like Miguel Sano of the Twins, who's already playing as much third base as he is shortstop. So in order to answer this question, I'm only going to consider prospects who are going to stick at shortstop and be good enough to play every day.
There two shortstops in the minors right now that have separated themselves from the rest. Manny Machado had a tremendous first full season in the Orioles system, playing well enough at short to make people believe he can stick there and hitting well, especially before a mid-season knee injury. He's among the best already, and is only in A-ball. Jurickson Profar is even younger than Machado, but had a great 2011 season, posting an .893 OPS in Low-A ball as an 18-year-old. The Rangers love his power/speed combo (57 extra-base hits and 23 steals) and his plate discipline (65 walks to 63 strike outs) and believe he will be more consistent with his glove as he matures.
WIthin a few months of the 2012 season, there may be a few more names in consideration, as 2011 first-round picks Francisco Lindor of the Indians and Javier Baez of the Cubs make their professional debuts, but it will be tough for either to surpass Machado and Profar unless one of them falters.
What we're seeing right now is a swoon of big-time shortstop prospects in the upper minors.
-Dave in Appleton, WI
MLBPW: It depends on whether you need a pitcher for this year or down the road. Miller is the better pitcher and has a higher ceiling, but he's further away than Turner. There's a good shot that Turner could be the Tigers 5th starter this year. Miller will be in Spring Training with the Cardinals, but they don't have a spot in their rotation for Miller this year. In addition, Miller spend the second half of the season in Double-A, and has made just 16 starts at that level. Turner started 2011 at Double-A, made 17 starts there, then made three in Triple-A and three more in the majors. Miller could start the year in Double-A and finish it in Triple-A, or start in Triple-A and spend the entire season there, but it's unlikely he makes more than a start or two in the majors in 2012, if he makes any at all. He is the better pitcher, however, and profiles as a true ace, while Turner should wind up being a number two or three starter.