Preseason Top 10 Second Baseman Rankings Review: Moncada’s Stock Slips, But Others Also Disappoint

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The minor league All Star games are starting to roll in, making this a good time to start taking a look back at our preseason rankings.  Whose value appears to be on the rise?  Whose value is plummeting?  Let’s take a look (please note all stats are through Thursday, unless otherwise noted):

 

1) Yoan Moncada – Chicago White Sox
Preseason Grade – A
Current Grade – A-

There’s a lot of talent and a lot to like, but there’s a reason Moncada has been pinned at Triple-A all season despite an obvious need in the Majors.  Yes he’s up to 10 HR and 15 SB, but he hasn’t had many extra base hits in general (9 doubles and 3 triples) and has struggled with strikeouts (12.5% SwStr%).  He’s also shown little growth in the strikeout department as the season has progressed:

  • April – 30 K in 86 AB
  • May – 20 K in 71 AB
  • June – 35 K in 103 AB

He does draw walks, but until he is able to cut down on the strikeouts there will be the risk of him being exposed (like he was in his first taste of the Majors).  That risk also drops his ranking slightly, but we all know it can rebound quickly.

 

2) Ozzie Albies – Atlanta Braves
Preseason Grade – A-
Current Grade – A-

His speed is not in question (19 SB in 21 attempts), and after a rough start he’s seen his average rise each month (.303 in June).  His 10.5% SwStr% is a bit higher than we’d want to see from a player of his makeup, and his 17.6% line drive rate isn’t ideal as well.  That said he has the speed to maintain an elevated BABIP (.327) and he’s improved his strikeout rate (17 K in 89 AB in June).  There’s still room to grow, and he’s blocked by Brandon Phillips, but the stock is solid (if not rising).

 

3) Ian Happ – Chicago Cubs
Preseason Grade – B+
Current Grade – Graduated

It was a bit of a surprise when he was recalled, but at this point he appears to be locked into an everyday role for the defending World Champions…  At least for now.  While he’s shown good power it’s easy to argue that he’s been overmatched, with a 17.8% SwStr% and 34.1% O-Swing%.  He needs to make an adjustment against breaking balls (27.14% Whiff%) and offspeed pitches (22.50% Whiff%), which could come in time.  Of course he had a 23.3% strikeout rate at Triple-A so it also shouldn’t be a complete surprise.  Enjoy the power, but don’t expect a strong batting average.

 

4) Willie Calhoun – Los Angeles Dodgers
Preseason Grade – B
Current Grade – B

Playing at Triple-A he’s proving that last year’s power breakout was for real, with 17 HR (and 37 total extra base hits) over 301 PA.  That said it’s easy to question his approach, as he appears to be selling out for power despite his 13.0% strikeout rate, as he pops the ball up far too often (31.4%).  His profile appears to be working for him, as he certainly makes contact (7.7% SwStr%), though there should be questions as to his ability to hit for a strong average (13.8% line drive rate).  With the contact and his ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark he continues to profile as a .260ish hitter with power, however.  There’s value in that, and it shouldn’t be ignored.

 

5) Isan Diaz – Milwaukee Brewers
Preseason Grade – B
Current Grade – B

There were high hopes for Diaz, but thus far playing the season at High-A has been a bitter disappointment as he’s hitting .215 with 9 HR and 7 SB.  The big problem has obviously been a continued elevated strikeout rate, at 26.0%.  That said his 11.6% SwStr% is high, especially considering the level, but he turned 21-years old this season and needs time to learn and adjust.  Considering his 12.3% walk rate, there’s still reason to believe.  He has 20/20 upside, and if he can cut down on the strikeouts could really prove to be a force.  While the average is disappointing, now isn’t the time to write him off or downgrade him.

 

6) Andy Ibanez – Texas Rangers
Preseason Grade – B-
Current Grade – B-

He’s missed time, limiting him to 122 AB, so to an extent his grade is a bit of an incomplete.  Still his 21 K vs. 13 BB is solid and he is the same player who had 36 doubles, 3 triples and 13 HR over 492 AB between High-A and Double-A a year to go.  For now we’ll have to wait and see what he can do, but the upside we saw preseason remains the same.

 

7) Travis Demeritte – Atlanta Braves
Preseason Grade – B-
Current Grade – B

Playing at Double-A he’s hitting .228 and continued to struggle with strikeouts (26.5%).  That said his strikeouts are actually down from last season (33.1% at High-A for the Rangers, 32.9% for the Braves) and his SwStr% is a reasonable 9.7%.  That would indicate a further improvement is coming, and you can also argue that he’s due for some improved luck (.283 BABIP despite a 22.0% line drive rate).  As he continues to show power (14 doubles, 3 triples and 11 HR), the arrow is actually pointing up despite the poor average.

 

8) Scott Kingery – Philadelphia Phillies
Preseason Grade – B-
Current Grade – B+

Power was not supposed to be his strong suit, but he erupted at Double-A for 18 HR (as well as 18 doubles and 5 triples) helping lead to his recent promotion to Triple-A.  As if the power wasn’t enough, he’s continued to show speed (19-for-22 in stolen bases) and showed a strong approach at the plate (16.1% strikeout rate, 8.8% walk rate).  You can see that he’s trying to hit for power (50.4% fly ball rate), and we’ll have to see if that can translate to the upper levels of the minors, but at this point the stock is rising significantly.  Is .280/20/20 be an unrealistic expectation?

 

9) Forrest Wall – Colorado Rockies
Preseason Grade – B-
Current Grade – Incomplete

He’s currently on the DL, and is out for the season with a shoulder injury.  While he looked promising prior to going down (.299 with 3 HR and 5 SB in 87 AB) it’s impossible to give him anything but an incomplete.  We’ll have to wait and see how he rebounds in 2018, when he’ll likely again start the year at High-A, this time as a 22-year old.

 

10) Eliezer Alvarez – St. Louis Cardinals
Preseason Grade – B-
Current Grade – B-

He struck out 34 times in 91 AB at Double-A and hasn’t played since May 15 due to a high ankle sprain.  The team was aggressive and it made sense, but there are likely going to be more growing pains even when he does return to the lineup.  We don’t want to downgrade him based on the struggles, because the upside is still there.

 

Sources – MILB.com, Frangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *