by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Who are the next wave of superstars in Major League Baseball? That’s what we are about to dive into, as we go position-by-position, looking for the best players who are 25-years old or younger (as of April 1, 2017). Obviously, things will be slightly skewed to those who have already reached the Majors and produced, but minor leaguers and their upside will not be ignored.
Up next is second base, which certainly has a few intriguing names that have either arrived or on the verge of arriving. Of course there are also a lot of questions, especially after you get past the first two names on the list (and one of them will likely lose eligibility after 2017), which makes you wonder where the future of the position lies. Who has the most upside at the position moving forward? Let’s take a look:
1) Trea Turner – Washington Nationals
Age as of 04/01/17 – 23
This will likely be the last time Turner appears on the second base list, but that’s only because he’ll be the full-time shortstop (and therefore lose eligibility). He’s quickly emerging as one of the best young players in the game, regardless of the position. Obviously he’s not going to maintain the impressive numbers he put up over 73 games last season (.342, 13 HR, 33 SB) considering his .388 BABIP and 16.7% HR/FB, but that’s not enough of a concern.
Speed is at a premium around the game and Turner has more than enough (58-for-66 stolen bases in ’16), and he’s going to chip in at least 10-12 HR. With that speed, his ability to hit the ball hard (25.2% line drive rate) and make contact (19.4% strikeout rate at Triple-A), a .300+ average is also on the table. That’s a tremendous skill set, and one that should make him a potential first round pick for years to come.
2) Rougned Odor – Texas Rangers
Age as of 04/01/17 – 23
In his first full season in the Majors Odor showed the total package:
.271, 33 HR, 88 RBI, 89 R, 14 SB
The power should be there and adding this type of stolen base total is realistic. The question boils down to his average and approach at the plate, considering how aggressive he was last season (12.0% SwStr%, 41.8% O-Swing%). Opposing pitchers are going to flip the script and force him to adjust, especially after 21 of his home runs came against fourseam fastballs (17) and sinkers (4). Can he reign it in, maintaining his production? Time will tell, but he’s done it in the Majors and 30 HR second baseman don’t come along every day.
3) Yoan Moncada – Chicago White Sox
Age as of 04/01/17 – 21
Moncada could be the top option on this list a year from now, especially after showing that he can hit for power (15 HR) and steal plenty of bases (45 SB) between High-A and Double-A in ’16. He clearly needs time at Triple-A, however, as he was striking out far too much at the lower levels and was even further exposed upon making his MLB debut:
- High-A (284 PA) – 21.1%
- Double-A (207 PA) – 30.9%
- Majors (20 PA) – 60.0%
The skills are extremely loud and if he can cut the strikeouts down he’ll assume the spot at the top vacated by Trea Turner. After last season, can we guarantee that’s going to happen though?
4) Ozzie Albies – Atlanta Braves
Age as of 04/01/17 – 20
Albies is a bit different then some of the others on this list, in that he doesn’t bring power to the game (though he could add some as he matures, considering his 33 doubles, 10 triples and 6 HR last season). Instead he utilizes his speed (30 SB between Double and Triple-A in ’16) and makes consistent contact (strikeout rates of 15.4% and 15.8%). That may not be as “sexy” of a skill set, but it’s also one that shouldn’t be ignored.
5) Javier Baez – Chicago Cubs
Age as of 04/01/17 – 24
We all know the upside Baez brings to the table, but there are two significant questions hanging over him:
- What position will he ultimately play?
- Can he keep the strikeouts in check?
If he can hit the first question will work itself out, it’s the second one that’s far more important. While the strikeout rate seemed better last season (24.0%), his plate discipline was questionable at best (14.4% SwStr%, 42.9% O-Swing%). That should lead to a regression, barring an adjustment on his end.
We talked about Baez in detail recently, which you can read by clicking here.
Honorable Mention – Jonathan Schoop (BAL, 25); Raul Mondesi (KC, 21)
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, MILB.com
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Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings:
|Starting Pitcher||#1-20 |02/27/17|