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Not every name you’ll see me bring up this offseason will be one you’re immediately familiar with. There are plenty of players whose names you don’t know at all (and who I’ve overlooked) who will make noise as prospects at some point soon, potentially next year. Hell, Kelly Dugan didn’t even make Baseball America’s Phillies top 30 this year where was listed on their organizational depth chart as a first baseman (he’s a plus defender in the OF) and he’s one of the more interesting guys in the entire system now. That word, “interesting,” is an important one to keep in mind this offseason as we plow through as many scouting reports as we can here at Crashburn. Not every prospect we’ll talk about is special, there aren’t enough special prospects in any system to sustain an entire offseason’s worth of content if that’s a requisite criterion. But everyone is interesting, especially the fatally flawed ones who are walking reminders of how sacred we should hold the ones that are truly special. One of these paper tigers is shortstop Malquin Canelo who spent most of this year at Short Season Williamsport.
The nineteen year-old Malquin Canelo is a 5’10”, 156lb Dominican shortstop prodigy. It’s quite rare to see someone this young display such acrobatic defensive skills. While unrefined, the tools are obviously there for Canelo to become a special defender at shortstop with reps and consistency. Right now he’d play a below average shortstop overall due to issues with some fundamentals but I’ve got the glove projected out to a 65, near plus-plus. Canelo has range, flexibility, soft hands, transfer quickness and a strong arm that are just begging to be polished and displayed in Lakewood next year. A sure thing to stick and likely excel at short, Canelo will have a lot of leeway with the bat as he climbs throught the minors.
He’s going to need it. With a body befitting a lightweight high school wrestler, Canelo lacks the physicality to strike baseballs with enough authority to consistently put them in the outfield. Still just a teenager (he only just turned nineteen a few weeks ago) you’d love to think he could add substantial weight and strength and be able to hold his own at the highest level one day. Alas, his slight frame does not lend him much projection and I can’t say with confidence that he’s ever going to have a major leaguers body. Unless there’s a substantial amount of growth here, I don’t think Canelo’s going to hit. There’ll just be weak grounder after weak grounder, enough to make Wilson Valdez blush.
It’s a shame because Caneo’s bat path is really fantastic and conducive of good contact and he has simple, quiet feet in the box. There’s nothing mechanical to really fix here. The bat speed isn’t great but might be just good enough to play. Canelo does not track the baseball well at present. I’ve got a 20 on the bat right now with a future 40 as a ceiling if he adds some bat speed as he gets a little stronger (which, as I’ve said, is itself a big “if”) and starts to track a little better. I also have a 20 on the power and project it to a 25.
The ceiling on Canelo for me is that of a below average regular whose value is entirely tied up in his glove. That’s a rather extreme ceiling based on what we see from Canelo right now but he’s a whole half decade away from the Majors and the list of what could happen for him, development wise, between now and then is so long and dense that String Theorists wouldn’t want anything to do with it. The defense will be good enough that it will carry him to at least Double-A on its own (Troy Hanzawa got to Triple-A this year) and once you get there all it takes is an injury or a SS starved rebuilding team to pop you in the Rule 5 draft (Marwin Gonzalez) for you to get to the show. Canelo has a chance.