While second base isn’t always a position that people think of when it comes to high-end prospects, there are a few truly impactful names on the horizon. Throw in a few others who could develop into intriguing producers and it’s a position that deserves our attention. Let’s take a look at who deserves our attention, including a few names that may not currently be on your radar:
|Rank||Player||Current Team||Current Grade|
|1.||Keston Hiura||Milwaukee Brewers||B+|
|2.||Garret Hampson||Colorado Rockies||B+|
|3.||Nick Madrigal||Chicago White Sox||B|
|4.||Vidal Brujan||Tampa Bay Rays||B|
|5.||Isan Diaz||Miami Marlins||B|
|6.||Brandon Lowe||Tampa Bay Rays||B-|
|7,||Mauricio Dubon||Milwaukee Brewers||B-|
|8.||Cavan Biggio||Toronto Blue Jays||B-|
|9.||Nick Solak||Tampa Bay Rays||B-|
|10.||Luis Urias||San Diego Padres||B-|
|11.||Kevin Smith||Toronto Blue Jays||B-|
|12.||Jeter Downs||Los Angeles Dodgers||B-|
|13.||Jahmai Jones||Los Angeles Angels||B-|
|14.||Tucupita Marcano||San Diego Padres||C+|
|15.||Nick Gordon||Minnesota Twins||C+|
1) Keston Hiura – Grade – B+
The Brewers have a need at second base and it seems like a foregone conclusion that the team will give Hiura an opportunity to fill it in 2019. The question when he was drafted wasn’t about his bat, and he’s shown why since stepping onto a professional diamond. Just look at last year’s numbers:
- High-A (228 PA) – .320, 7 HR, 23 RBI, 38 R, 4 SB
- Double-A (307 PA) – .272, 6 HR, 20 RBI, 36 R, 11 SB
He seems like an ideal #2 hitter in the lineup, though we’d like to see further improvement in his SwStr% (10.9% in ’18). You can also argue that there isn’t enough power or speed to get overly excited (he could be more of a 15/10 type hitter). Think along the lines of D.J. LeMahieu in terms of his potential value.
2) Garret Hampson – Grade
Barring some surprising maneuvering it appears that Hampson will get the first opportunity to claim the second base job, though Rodgers will push him for the role before long. Hampson’s carrying tool is his speed, with 36 SB over 444 AB in the minors last season, though there’s a lot to like in his approach as well:
- Groundball Rate – 51.1%
- SwStr% – 6.4%
- Walk Rate – 10.1%
For a player who utilizes his speed, a good approach and a willingness to put the ball on the ground is an ideal combination. Of course he’s also not void of power, with 41 extra base hits between Double and Triple-A (including 10 HR). Playing half his games in Coors Field, is a 12/35 middle infielder impossible to imagine? Playing time could ultimately be the biggest issue, with the potential for Hampson to fall into a super utility type role. If he’s playing, though, he’s going to make an impact.
3) Nick Madrigal – Grade
It’s possible Madrigal never displays much power, listed at 5’7” and 165 lbs., so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he didn’t homer (and only had 7 doubles) over his first 155 AB. What we can’t question is his ability to handle the bat, with a 3.7% SwStr% leading to a miniscule 2.9% strikeout rate. That’s an elite mark, regardless of the level, and do it right off the bat (including 98 AB at High-A) can’t be overlooked. Couple that with ample speed and he could develop into a .300/40 SB type force at the top of the White Sox lineup. Turning 22-years old in March, he could be fast-tracked and arrive in the Majors in short order.
4) Vidal Brujan –Grade – B
While Brandon Lowe may get all of the attention, since he’s already made his MLB debut, Brujan may ultimately have the highest upside after hitting .320 with 9 HR and 55 SB splitting time between Single-A and High-A. His best assets are obviously his speed and his strong approach, as he walked (63) nearly as much as he struck out (68), and his ability to make consistent contact (6.6% SwStr%). Obviously being listed at 5’9” and 155 lbs. is going to bring questions, but by the looks of things he should develop into a strong top of the lineup threat who could steal bases in bunches.
5) Isan Diaz – Grade
Acquired from Milwaukee as part of the Christian Yelich trade, Diaz split 2018 between Double-A (294 AB) and Triple-A (137 AB), hitting .232 with 13 HR and 14 SB. Before touching the average, keep in mind that he had just 431 AB so he appeared to bring 15/15 upside or better (especially having added 23 doubles and 5 triples). That’s definitely intriguing, once he proves that he can make consistent contact. While the strikeout rate was elevated once again last season (26.7% at Double-A, 29.0% at Triple-A), just look at his SwStr% and the trend over the past few seasons:
- 2016 – 10.8%
- 2017 – 11.6%
- 2018 – 9.8%
The number did jump to 11.6% at Triple-A last season, so there is reason to watch closely. It was only 155 PA and he showed a little bit of growth and development. That’s not to say that there aren’t questions, but if the strikeouts drop he could easily settle in as a .260+ hitter with 15/15 ability.
6) Brandon Lowe – Grade – B-
He saw time at Double and Triple-A, as well as getting his first taste of the Majors (148 PA), totaling 28 HR along the way. The question is whether or not he can consistently make contact, with a 12.7% SwStr% in the minors jumping to 17.6% in the Majors. It’s not necessarily a poor eye, as he posted a 29.1% O-Swing% in the Majors and had a 12.8% walk rate in the minors. He needs to get a little bit less aggressive to cut down on the strikeouts, but with the power, walk rate (and that makes him a much stronger option in OBP formats) and the ability to chip in a few stolen bases, and there’s a lot to like. The potential strikeout issues do limit his grade, at least a little bit, but you could argue him as a B type prospect.
7) Mauricio Dubon – Grade – B-
Dubon appeared to be on his way to a full breakout in 2018 before a knee injury ended his season in May. Obviously there’s risk, especially with speed being his strongest skill, but there’s also tremendous upside.
8) Cavan Biggio – Grade – B-When you see a bloated 26.3% strikeout rate you likely see it as a significant red flag and something that’s going to drag him down the rankings. However it’s more of a case where he’s too patient at the plate, as evidenced by these numbers from Double-A last season:
- Walk Rate – 17.8%
- SwStr% – 9.9%
Biggio needs to learn to get his pitch and be more aggressive, and that’s something that can be taught. While he doesn’t have big speed (despite 20 SB last season) he does have power (23 doubles, 5 triples and 26 HR) and that could play even more once he learns to take advantage of his pitch. While others are down on him, don’t be surprised if a strong start changes the narrative.
Solak – Grade – B-
It’s easy to lose Solak among the depth of the Rays’ system (especially at second base, being the third prospect to land in the Top 10 among second base prospects). Spending the year at Double-A Solak hit .282 with 19 HR and 21 SB, showing an ability to draw a walk (12.0%) and making consistent contact (8.6% SwStr%). A former second round draft pick of the New York Yankees, that’s a similar skillset he showed in 2017 at High-A (10 HR/13 SB to go along with a 13.1% walk rate over 406 PA). He’ll play 2019 at 24-years old, so you can argue that he’s an “older” prospect, but that’s not enough of a red flag to drag him down. The upside across the board is intriguing and his opportunity could come at some point this season.
10) Luis Urias – Grade – B-
He has a strong control of the strike zone, hitting .296 at Triple-A with a 12.6% walk rate over 533 PA. It currently doesn’t come with much power (8 HR) or speed (2 SB), meaning he is the type of player who likely will be far more valuable to his real team as opposed to your fantasy squad.
11) Kevin Smith – Grade – B-
When a player puts up 25 HR and 29 SB between Single-A and High-A it’s easy to get excited. Throw in adding 31 doubles and 6 triples, backing up the power, and things look that much better. A 12.7% SwStr% is a red flag, and something that needs to be monitored closely. It’s possible that he started to focus on his power a bit too much, at the expense of his contact, and seeing him dial it back a little bit could happen. Of course would anyone complain about a 20/20 player with a solid average?
12) Jeter Downs – Grade – B-
Downs was acquired from Cincinnati as part of the trade sending Alex Wood and Yaisel Puig out of Los Angeles. He played the bulk of the season at 19-years old at Single-A, so there’s no question that there’s room to improve upon his 11.6% SwStr% (leading to a 19.7% strikeout rate). As long as that number doesn’t rise too much, there’s obvious upside in his power (13 HR) and there’s some speed (37 SB in 47 attempts, though he’s not considered a true burner). It’s easy to get excited, but the strikeout rate and potential to be more of a 15/15 type player does show a little bit of risk.
13) Jahmai Jones – Grade – B-
Jones split time between High-A and Double-A, where he showed intriguing power (10 HR) and speed (24) as well as an ability to draw a walk (12.0%). Strikeouts are an obvious concern, despite his 20.4% strikeout rate, as he swung and missed far too much. Overall he posted a 12.3% SwStr%, and it rose slightly to 12.6% upon reaching Double-A. Couple that with an uninspiring 15.9% line drive rate and the potential to get a little to pull happy (47.8% at Double-A) and it’s fair to be concerned that he’s going to hit a wall at the highest levels.
Marcano – Grade – C+
There is no questioning the speed of the 19-year old (he played 2018 as an 18-year old), and playing at Rookie Ball (160 PA) he showed a great approach (6.3% strikeout rate, 16.3% walk rate). His overall 5.3% SwStr% (he had 77 PA at Low-A) is highly promising, though there are going to be questions regarding his power (5 doubles, 3 triples, 1 HR overall). With his approach and the ability to routinely steal 30 bases there will be value, but if he could develop even 10 HR power the upside will be even more intriguing.
15) Nick Gordon – Grade – C+
Gordon’s name generally carries value, at least perceived value. Playing between Double and Triple-A last season he hit just .248 with 7 HR and 20 SB, as his lack of walk rate (5.8%) is a red flag and he doesn’t have the speed that his brother (Dee Gordon) carries. Without power we are looking more at a 10/10 type player, and one that may not carry much more than a .260ish average. There’s potential value, but it’s not as high as we’d like to believe.
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, MILB.com, Baseball Reference
Make sure to check out all of our 2019 Top 10 Prospect Lists: