Late Round Draft Day Targets: Second Basemen

We’ve previously looked at catchers (click here to view), so today let’s take a look at a few potential late round targets among second basemen (we consider a late round option as a player who can generally be drafted after Round 18 of a 12-team league based on their Mock Draft Central ADP):

Tsuyoshi Nishioka – Minnesota Twins (current ADP = 382.65)
It is tough to know exactly what we are going to get from Nishioka in his first year coming over from Japan, but he certainly is worth the late-round flier.  Yes, he hit .346 in 2010, but you have to keep in mind that he was a .293 career hitter since debuting in 2003 as an 18-year old (3,111 total at bats).  Over the past four years he hit .300 or better three times, so you would expect him to hit for a good average, with the potential to be even better than that, though there’s no guarantee.

What he does bring to the table is speed.  He stole at least 20 bases five times (with a career high of 41 coming in 2005).  The Twins are not a shy team on the bases and he will likely fill the second spot in the order behind Denard Span and in front of Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and company.  That certainly means the potential to score plenty of runs as well.

You have to be modest in your expectations of Nishioka because you never really know exactly how a player’s skillset is going to translate from Japan to the American game.  Still, with his potential, you have to like the upside you get late in your draft.

Danny Espinosa – Washington Nationals (current ADP = 393.58)
He debuted with a bang, hitting 2 HR with 6 RBI against the Mets in his first week.  While his first cup of coffee in the Major Leagues was not overall impressive (.233, 6 HR, 15 RBI, 16 R, 0 SB), it is not indicative of the potential he brings to the table.

Over his minor league career he hit .270 with 40 HR and 56 SB over 1,019 AB.  At Double-A in ‘10, in 386 AB, he had 18 HR and 20 SB.  He added 4 HR and 5 SB in 95 AB at Triple-A prior to ultimately joining the Nationals.  Clearly, he has the potential to be a 20/20 middle infielder in the Major Leagues.  What else can you really ask for from a late round pick?

Yes, there are concerns about his potential to make contact, which could bring about a low average.  In his cup of coffee in ’10 he struck out 29.1% of the time.  In the minor leagues he posted a 25.7% strikeout rate.  The concern certainly is legitimate, but the upside in the other categories far outweighs the risk.  If your league requires a middle infielder, I would certainly target him.

Sean Rodriguez – Tampa Bay Rays (current ADP = 356.78)
Rodriguez has always been a high upside player, but 2011 appears to be the first chance he’ll get to play every day.  He hit 127 HR over his minor league career, including 29 in 365 AB at Triple-A in ’09.  Of course, that came in the Pacific Coast League so it has to be taken with a small grain of salt.

He hit .251 with 9 HR and 13 SB in 343 AB for the Rays in 2010, but strikeouts continue to plague him and keep him from hitting for more than a mediocre average.  He posted a 28.3% strikeout rate in ’10 and has a 29.7% mark for his career. 

Still, he’s extremely similar to Espinosa, where he has the potential to go 20/20 and appears primed for regular playing time.

Juan Uribe – Los Angeles Dodgers (current ADP = 300.26)
He’s hit 20 or more home runs four times in his career, including 24 in 521 AB for the Giants in 2010.  His strikeout rate isn’t bad (19.3% for his career), so it is a bit surprising to see him struggle with his average.  Last season he hit .248 thanks to a .256 BABIP.  He’s consistently posted a below average mark, so it is hard to expect him to improve dramatically.

Still, the potential is there for him to hit at least .270 to go along with plenty of power.  That alone makes him worth the late round pick.

What are your thoughts on these late round second base options?  Who would you target in your drafts?  Is there someone else you are looking at?

**** Make sure to order your copy of the Rotoprofessor 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, selling for just $5, by clicking here. ****

Make sure to check out our 2011 rankings:

Wild Prediction: Austin Jackson Being Sent To Triple-A
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