It’s rare that you come across an impact second base prospect. They’re usually guys that don’t have the range for short or the arm for third or they just don’t hit as much as you’d like. What do you picture when you think of a second baseman? A smallish guy, usually pretty dirty, making a quick throw to first? Kinda looks like David Eckstein, right? You don’t picture them smashing bombs, because second basemen generally don’t. Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia are the outliers at second, and any production you get from the position can almost be viewed as a bonus.
That’s why these players are interesting. It takes not too much to be a viable fantasy second baseman, and a few of the players below could easily blow past that not too much threshold in 2014. Yes, 2014 — that’s the only season these rankings are taking into consideration. Rougned Odor and Mookie Betts aren’t listed below, because they’re not cracking an MLB roster next year. Let’s take a gander at a few fellas that likely will.
1. Wilmer Flores — 2B/3B, NYM (AAA: .321/.357/.531 in 463 PAs | MLB: .211/.248/.295 in 101 PAs)
Calling Wilmer Flores a second basemen is generous, like tithing 10 percent or donating the old LeSabre to Kars 4 Kids. Yes, Wilmer physically played second base for most of last season, and his other position is manned by David Wright, but he’s a massive defensively liability. He’s slow and large and doesn’t project to get faster or smaller anytime soon. The Mets pitching staff won’t be happy he’s at second as ground ball after ground ball scoots on by him, but it’s good for us fantasy baseballers, because his bat looks legit. Flores feels like he’s been around forever, but he’ll play most of next season at 22, and it’s likely he’ll break camp with the big league club. Given 600 PAs, he’ll probably hit around .260 with 10 homers and 20 doubles. That’s playable at second. He doesn’t take many walks, so be leery in OBP leagues. The Mets are pretty bad, so the runs and RBI can’t be counted on, and Wilmer is glacial for a second baseman, so there won’t be steals here.
Draft Advice: Wilmer’s transition to MLB could be tricky — he’s still very young and there’s a wide range of outcomes for him next year. He’s unlikely to be a top 10 second baseman, but that’s still possible. Look for him after the 20th round in standard leagues.
2. Alexander Guerrero — 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers | Cuba: .290/.402/.576 in 328 PAs)
I’m putting Guerrero here because he’s getting paid a lot of money, and it looks like he’s got the inside track at starting at second for the Dodgers next year. The thing about the Dodgers is that even if you’re getting paid a lot of money by them, it doesn’t mean you’re going to start. It helps to have a self-refilling Scroogevault somewhere in the valley. But Guerrero’s numbers in Cuba were damn impressive, even if we don’t really know what they mean or how they translate to MLB. In 2012 he hit 21 home runs in 328 PAs and walked more than he struck out. Obviously, if the power and OBP skills translate to MLB, he’s a top 5 fantasy second baseman and an elite talent. The numbers are great, but the scouting consensus is much more guarded regarding his offensive talent. Basically, we don’t know what we’re going to get from him. He’s a wildcard.
Draft Advice: Someone’s going to overdraft him in your league, probably in the 10th or 12th round. Could he merit that? Sure. Could he be a utility infielder? Yup. He’s a wildcard. I just said that up there. I’d look to snag him after the 20th round in standard leagues.
3. Kolten Wong — 2B, St. Louis Cardinals (AAA: .303/.369/.466 in 463 PAs | MLB: .153/.194/.169 in 62 PAs)
I’m rooting for Wong to have a good career, just so he’s not remembered as the guy who got picked off to end a World Series game for the rest of his life. As I wrote that I realized, even if he turns into Joe Morgan, Wong will still be remembered as that guy. That’s the fate of World Series blunderers. But the good news for Wong is that David Freese just got dealt for Peter Bourjos, which will domino him into the starting second base job in St. Louis next year. Chin up, Kolten — the Cards have faith in you. And for good reason, as he’s steadily improved as he’s gone up the organizational ladder. Wong will take a walk, doesn’t strike out much, stole 20 bags while only being thrown out once, and he’s got decent pop, hitting 10 homers and 21 doubles in Triple-A last season.
Draft Advice: Wong will move up draft boards after the Freese trade, as he has the potential to hit .280 with 10 home runs and 20 steals in a deep Cardinal lineup. I don’t think he has the ceiling of either of the players ahead of him, but he’s more likely to produce next season. He’s a late round draft target in standard leagues.
4. Jonatahan Schoop — 2B, Baltimore Oriolkes (Rk/A+/AAA: .278/.330/.460 in 336 PAs | MLB: 286/.333/.500 in 15 PAs)
This isn’t relevant, fantasy or otherwise, but I was really disappointed when I learned that Schoop is pronounced like the mouthwash and not like the Salt n’ Pepa song. Schoop’s season was a bit of a disappointment as well, as he was injured for a good portion of the year and then didn’t handle the transition to Triple-A very well, as he OPS’d .697 in 70 games at the level. The one positive takeaway from last season is that he hit for more power. Schoop is the second baseman of the future in Charm City, but the question is how far away is that future? I think the earliest timetable is this year’s All Star Game, and he’ll need to make serious strides in his offensive game to warrant that call up. That, and he’ll need to stay healthy.
Draft Advice: Schoop shouldn’t be drafted, but if he gets promoted his power could be useful in deep leagues.
5. Cesar Hernandez — 2B/OF, Philadelphia Phillies (AA/AAA: .314/.378/.406 in 453 PAs | MLB: .289/.344/.331 in 131 PAs)
There’s a bit of a chasm in 2014 potential value between the top three players and the last two on this list. Hernandez has great fantasy potential based on just the 33 bags he stole in the minors last year. Anyone with second base eligibility that’s stealing close to 30 bases has a fantasy role. Hernandez’s issue is playing time – his will be sporadic at best. Utley is entrenched at second and the Phillies like Kevin Frandsen for some reason as his backup. Hernandez will probably scrape together 250 PAs playing three or four positions, steal 10-12 bases and hit an empty .270.
Draft Advice: If you’re in a dynasty league with 25 man rosters, Hernandez is a viable play. He’s a complete non-factor in all standard scoring leagues.
The Last Cut: Eddie Rosario — 2B, Minnesota Twins
Eddie, Eddie, Eddie. I wrote you up and had you fourth on the list, and then you went ahead and got suspended for 50 games. You still might make the bigs next year, but probably not until rosters expand in September. I’m disappointed in you, Eddie. We all are. You’ve got all the talent to be an elite fantasy second baseman, but it doesn’t matter if you can’t keep you nose clean and get on the field.
Christian Colon, Kansas City Royals
Delino Deshields Jr., Houston Astros
Taylor Lindsey, Los Angeles Angels