Top 10 Second Basemen Prospects (Preseason 2018 Edition)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Second base is not a wasteland of talent at the Major League level, but on the prospect front things look somewhat barren.  Sure there’s one top talent and maybe there are a few intriguing names that could rise up the rankings, but for the most part there’s little to get excited about in regards to the current wave of prospects.  Who should we be paying attention to?  Who are the sleepers worth watching?  Let’s take a look at how our current Top 10 looks:

 

1) Scott Kingery – Philadelphia Phillies
Grade – A-
ETA – 2018
Phillies’ #1 Prospect

There were calls for him to arrive in 2017, but it never made sense for the Phillies to push the envelope when they didn’t have to add him to the 40-man roster in the offseason.  That’s going to change this season, and you have to think that the Phillies will clear a spot to give him an opportunity after he dominated at both Double and Triple-A last season:

  • Double-A – .313 (87-278), 18 HR, 44 RBI, 62 R, 19 SB
  • Triple-A – .294 (78-265), 8 HR, 21 RBI, 41 R, 10 SB

Even more important is that he showed an impressive approach, with a 9.5% SwStr% overall (and he improved to 8.8% at Triple-A).  He may not draw a ton of walks, with a 6.8% walk rate, but he has power, an ability to make consistent contact and has already proven to be an efficient base runner (29-for-34 in SB attempts).  You put it all together and you get a second baseman who could easily go .280/20/20, with the potential for even more.  That’s a potential All-Star type line.

 

2) Keston Hiura – Milwaukee Brewers
Grade – B
ETA – 2019
Brewers’ #2 Prospect

The question facing Hiura heading into the 2017 draft was where his future was defensively, as there was little question about his bat.  Part of that was due to being limited to DH due to an elbow issue, which could require Tommy John surgery (and if it does his arrival will be delayed until 2020), and most wonder if he’s a better fit in the outfield or at second base.  Regardless, his bat will play as he showed in his professional debut that he hits the ball hard (23.6% line drive rate) and has extra base power (14 doubles, 7 triples and 4 HR over 167 AB).   He profiles as a strong average hitter with enough power and speed (think .280/15/10 type player), as long as he gets healthy.

 

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3) Garrett Hampson – Colorado Rockies
Grade – B
ETA – 2019
Rockies’ #4 Prospect

We all know that speed is down across the game, and that’s what Hampson brings to the table.  He played last season at 22-years old, so it’s possible he moves quickly, and at High-A he delivered 51 SB (and now has 87 SB in 789 PA since being drafted in 2016).

Even more important is that he paired the speed with a tremendous approach.  Last season he posted a 12.8% strikeout rate and 9.3% walk rate, courtesy of a 5.9% SwStr%.  Speed + Approach?  That could equate to a dynamic top of the order producer.  While he’s not going to deliver significant power, he did add 24 doubles, 12 triples and 8 home runs last season meaning he could chip in 10 HR per year.  We aren’t going to count on it every year, but it’s possible he pops off a .300/10/40 year at some point.

 

4) Luis Urias – San Diego Padres
Grade – B
ETA – 2018
Padres’ #6 Prospect

Urias can flat out hit, even though his .296 AVG at Double-A last season may not blow you away.  He walked (68) more than he struck out (65), something he’s done consistently (in 2016 he had 45 BB vs. 37 K).  With a 6.4% SwStr% he has the upside of a .300 hitter, the question is going to be if he’s able to pair it with another skill.  He lacks blazing speed (7 SB in 12 attempts last season) as well as significant power (20 doubles, 4 triples and 3 HR last season).  He won’t turn 21 until June, so there is a chance that he develops a little more power as he matures, but for now he appears to be more of a one-trick pony.

 

5) Brandon Lowe – Tampa Bay Rays
Grade – B-
ETA – 2019
Unranked

Splitting time between High-A and Double-A Lowe showed upside in both average and power, hitting .298 with 11 HR over 410 AB.  He thrived prior to the promotion, though it was a small sample size at Double-A and we’ll need to give him time to adjust to the level:

  • High-A – .311 // 17.7% strikeout rate // 12.8% walk rate
  • Double-A – .253 // 25.7% strikeout rate // 2.0% walk rate

His SwStr% of 12.2% at Double-A isn’t awful and he was hitting the ball hard (21.7% line drive rate).  He also showed that there’s plenty of power in his bat, adding 39 doubles and 4 triples overall.  He may never blow you away, but he should be a solid contributor.

 

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6) Nick Solak – New York Yankees
Grade – C+
ETA – 2019
Unranked

Splitting time between High-A and Double-A in ’17 Solak combined to hit .297 with 12 HR and 14 SB.  While he posted an 18.6% strikeout rate he showed a solid approach, with an 11.7% walk rate and 7.8% SwStr%, indicating an improvement in the strikeout rate isn’t impossible.  He doesn’t bring blazing speed, but he has enough to steal 10+ bases annually (and with experience and opportunity 15+ is possible).  He also hasn’t shown significant power, yet, but with his approach and his future home ballpark he should continue to develop.  He has breakout potential as an across the board contributor, and don’t be surprised to see him jump up the rankings next year.

 

7) Shed Long – Cincinnati Reds
Grade – C+
ETA – 2019
Unranked

Long struggled upon his promotion to Double-A (.227 over 141 AB), though he actually improved his strikeout rate (22.6% to 19.4%) and walk rate (9.7% to 11.9%) from his impressive High-A numbers (.312 with 13 HR).  A 10.9% SwStr% helps to support the improvement, and while strikeouts will always be part of his game it was an important step in the right direction.

Long has shown power potential, combining for 16 HR in ’17 (after hitting 15 HR in ’16).  If he can continue his improved strikeout numbers the upside is there for a .280/20 HR threat at second base.  That remains to be seen, but it was a promising development.

 

8) Isan Diaz – Milwaukee Brewers
Grade – C+
ETA – 2019
Unranked

It’s hard not to call Diaz’ 2017 a disappointment, as he hit .222 with 13 HR and 9 SB over 455 PA at High-A.  That said he still showed the upside of a 20/10 performer, and one who has consistently proven capable of drawing a walk:

  • 2014 – 11.8%
  • 2015 – 10.9%
  • 2016 – 12.3%
  • 2017 – 13.6%

The question is going to be his ability to make consistent contact, with a 26.6% strikeout rate in ’17 courtesy of an 11.6% SwStr%.  If he can get the strikeouts down, even to the 20-22% range, he could develop into a well-rounded player with significant OBP upside.

 

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9) Esteury Ruiz – San Diego Padres
Grade – C+
ETA – 2021
Unranked

Consider the 18-year old the ultimate wild card, but one that showed intriguing skills hitting .350 with 4 HR and 26 SB over 225 PA in Rookie Ball.  There appears to be more power, having added 20 doubles and 10 triples, that he should be able to tap into as he matures physically (he’s listed at 6’0” and 150 lbs.).  There also is no questioning the speed, and while there was far too much swing and miss last season (32.7% SwStr%) at his age that’s something we can overlook.  He’s a long ways away and there’s plenty of development needed, but it’s a highly intriguing skillset.

 

10) Max Schrock – St. Louis Cardinals
Grade – C
ETA – 2018
Unranked

Acquired from Oakland as part of the Stephen Piscotty trade, there is little question in regards to Schrock’s carrying tool which is his ability to hit.  At Double-A in ’17 he hit .321 courtesy of a 9.2% strikeout rate, 23.2% line drive rate and 5.2% SwStr%.  Of course he brings little else to the table (7 HR/4 SB), and while it’s possible he could produce a 10/10 season the upside is limited.

Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, MILB.com

Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Top 10 Prospect Lists:

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

** ORDER OUR 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE TODAY **
Order Rotoprofessor’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for just $7.50!!  Click here for the details, but don’t miss out on the best bargain in fantasy baseball preparation.

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