Top 10 Second Baseman Prospects (Preseason 2017 Edition)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

You can make the argument that the best prospect in the game resides at second base, and there are some exciting talents near the top of these rankings.  There’s also a steep falloff, right around #6, and while there is upside after that there are significant questions hanging over the field.  Who are the players we should be watching closely?  Who could step up and emerge?  Let’s take a look:

 

1) Yoan Moncada – Chicago White Sox
ETA – Already Arrived
Grade – A

His MLB debut was a significant disappointment and may have fully exposed the warts to his game, as he struck out 12 times in 19 AB.  As he was hitting home runs (15) and stealing bases (45) in the minors it was an easy thing to overlook, but it is important to note that it was extremely prevalent there as well:

  • High-A – 21.1%
  • Double-A – 30.9%

He also showed the ability to draw a walk (15.8% and 13.0%, respectively), and at his age there’s hope that he can make the necessary adjustments but it’s going to take him time.  He’s clearly transitioning into more of a power hitter and suddenly shows the potential to be a consistent 20/35 type player (with the upside of even more).  He just needs to learn how to hit for power while also limiting the strikeouts.  If he can do that, you are looking at one of the truly elite players in the game.

 

2) Ozzie Albies – Atlanta Braves
Grade – A-
ETA – 2017

He’s just 20-years old (he played all of ’16 as a 19-year old), which may be the only reason he’s ranked behind Swanson.  Spending time at Double and Triple-A last season Albies hit .292 with 6 HR and 30 SB, though the numbers certainly took a hit after making the jump:

  • Double-A (330 AB) – .321 with 4 HR and 21 SB
  • Triple-A (222 AB) – .248 with 2 HR and 9 SB

His strikeout rate was similar (15.4% to 15.8%), as it was significantly different luck that resulted in the struggles (.376 vs. .290 BABIP).  The truth probably lies in the middle, which would be just fine.  He’s never going to be a big source of power, though he did appear to be putting the ball in the air a bit more last season (1.29 GO/AO).  That’s something to monitor, though not a major indication in either direction.

 


 

3) Ian Happ – Chicago Cubs
Grade – B+
ETA – 2017

Happ split time between High-A and Double-A last season, hitting .279 with 15 HR (as well as 30 doubles and 3 triples) and 16 SB.  Those are promising numbers, and with his defensive versatility he’s going to draw comparisons to Ben Zobrist.  He does have some contact issues hanging over him and watched his walk rate plummet upon reaching Double-A:

  • High-A (293 PA) – 23.5% strikeout rate, 16.4% walk rate
  • Double-A (274 PA) – 21.9% strikeout rate, 7.3% walk rate

It’s something to monitor, but not a major concern of yet.  At the end of the day Happ doesn’t have a standout tool, but has the potential to be a contributor across the board.

 

4) Willie Calhoun – Los Angeles Dodgers
Grade – B
ETA – 2017

Listed at 5’8”, there’s going to be concerns about his ability to maintain the power (he had 27 HR at Double-A in ’16).  The fact that he also added just 25 doubles and 1 triple adds to it, though all reports believe that he can.  Couple that with the ability to make consistent contact (11.6% strikeout rate in ’16) and there’s a lot to like.  Sure he hit .254 last season, but he wasn’t swinging for the fences (0.94 GO/AO) and should improve on his .242 BABIP.  There may not be speed, but that’s hardly a reason to downgrade him.

 

5) Isan Diaz – Milwaukee Brewers
Grade – B
ETA – 2018

Acquired in the Jean Segura trade with Arizona, Diaz is an often overlooked prospect who carries significant potential.  He spent a lot of time at both middle infield positions in 2016 (41 games at 2B, 90 games at SS), which helps his versatility though most think that his future lies at second base.  That would work quite well, as his bat would play at the position.

Playing the season at Single-A, Diaz hit .264 with 20 HR and 11 SB in ’16.  With 34 doubles and 5 triples the power is obvious and he showed an ability to draw a walk (12.3% walk rate).  The obvious question is his contact rate, with a 25.2% strikeout rate last season.  Considering the level it’s a significant red flag, and one that needs to be corrected otherwise his value is going to be capped.

 


 

6) Andy Ibanez – Texas Rangers
Grade – B-
ETA – 2018

Signed out of Cuba in 2015, the real question is where Ibanez is going to play (or if he’ll be best served as a trade chip at some point).  He showed an impressive set of skills in his first taste of baseball in the U.S. while splitting time between High-A and Double-A (492 AB), combining for 13 HR and 15 SB.  There’s more upside in his power (36 doubles and 3 triples) and he has room to improve on his efficiency on the base paths (15-for-25), making 20/20 a high-water mark (though 15/15 more realistic).  He also showed a good approach at the plate, adding to the appeal (strikeout rate // walk rate):

  • High-A (220 PA) – 12.7% // 13.2%
  • Double-A (340 PA) – 13.8% // 7.4%

Once he carves out a role, he will have the potential to make an impact.

 

7) Travis Demeritte – Atlanta Braves
Grade – B-
ETA – 2018

No one is going to question his power, combining to hit 28 HR between a pair of High-A teams in 2016 (he was traded from Texas during the season).  He also brings the ability to steal bases, with 17 SB in 21 attempts.  The question is going to be his ability to make consistent contact, with 175 K over 455 AB (strikeout rates of 33.1% and 32.9% for the two teams he played for).  That’s obviously a significant red flag, given the level, and could ultimately cripple his upside.

 

8) Scott Kingery – Philadelphia Phillies
Grade – B-
ETA – 2018

Kingery may not offer much power, but he has the potential to be a future force atop the Phillies lineup.  He struggled upon reaching Double-A (166 PA), as his strikeouts spiked (21.7%) helping lead to a .250 average with 4 SB.  However he showed how good he could be at High-A (420 PA), hitting .293 courtesy of a 12.9% strikeout rate to go along with 26 SB in 31 attempts.  We need to give him time to develop and adjust to the upper levels, but the upside is there.

 


 

9) Forrest Wall – Colorado Rockies
Grade – B-
ETA – 2018

The left-handed hitter has yet to develop much power, with his speed being his carrying tool (65 SB since being selected 35th overall in 2014).  However his control of the strike zone hasn’t been as impressive as we’d have hoped (18.6% strikeout rate at High-A in ’16) and the lefty-swinger also has struggled against southpaws:

  • Single-A (2015) – .238/.283/.343
  • High-A (2016) – .246/.313/.356

Those are two significant concerns, but he could adjust and live up to the potential.

 

10) Eliezer Alvarez – St. Louis Cardinals
Grade – B-
ETA – 2019

He spent the season at Single-A, hitting .323 with 6 HR and 36 SB.  There isn’t significant upside in the power, being listed at 5’11” and 165 lbs., though he did add 36 doubles and 6 triples so it’s not unthinkable that he finds the 8-12 range.  More important was his approach at the plate (19.2% strikeout rate, 10.6% walk rate) and his ability to steal some bases.  At 22-years old he has the potential to move quickly, though he does need more exposure to see how he reacts against more advanced pitching.

Just Missed – Luis Urias (SD, B-), Travis Blankenhorn (Min, B-)

Sources – MLB.com, MILB.com, Frangraphs, Baseball Reference

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Grading System:
Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On

Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

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