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Prospect Positional: 2B

by Matthew Foreman
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

This week’s Prospect Positional will cover second baseman, a position in which there have been three graduations, one position switch in (and another position switch out), and the prospect whose prospect status has increased the most in all of baseball.

 

Note: All statistics are current through Sunday, May 11.

 

Updated top-12

 

Updated Pre-Season Name MLB Team MiLB Team
1 3 Mookie Betts Red Sox Portland (AA)
2 1 Kolten Wong Cardinals Memphis (AAA)
3 2 Alex Guerrero Dodgers Albuquerque (AAA)
4 N/R Jose Peraza Braves Lynchburg (High-A)
5 N/R Jorge Polanco Twins Fort Myers (High-A)
6 N/R Micah Johnson White Sox Birmingham (AA)
7 10 Arismendy Alcantara Cubs Iowa (AAA)
8 8 Delino DeShields Astros Corpus Christi (AA)
9 N/R Tommy La Stella Braves Gwinnett (AAA)
10 4 Alen Hanson Pirates Altoona (AA)
11 11 Dilson Herrera Mets St. Lucie (High-A)
12 12 Cory Spangenberg Padres San Antonio (AA)

 

Graduates

 

Rank Name MLB Team MiLB Team
5 Wilmer Flores Mets N/A
6 Dorssys Paulino Indians Lake County (Low-A)
7 Jonathan Schoop Orioles N/A
9 Rougned Odor Rangers N/A

 

Late last week, the Mets front office finally got sick and tired of watching Ruben Tejada and Omar Quintanilla play below-average defense and not hit, and called up Wilmer Flores.  At best, Flores will be a replacement-level defenseman, but he could hit .280 with 10 home runs and 20 doubles over the last five months of the season.

 

Dorssys Paulino was moved to the shortstop list because the Indians appear committed to keeping him at shortstop until absolutely necessary.  He was discussed in the Prospect Positional: Shortstops column that came out last week.

 

Jonathan Schoop has not hit for a high average, and is allergic to walks, but he has shown some decent power while playing third base in place of Manny Machado before taking over at second base.  He may never hit above .275, but he has shown some pop and plays a decent second base.

 

Through April 28, Rougned Odor was hitting .221/.257/.326.  Over his next eight games, he hit .441/.472/.794 with one double, one triple, and three home runs.  He was promoted to the major leagues, likely filling in until Jurickson Profar returns in June.  He could be worth a pickup if you need a second baseman, but will be sent down once Profar is activated.

 

Small sample size

 

Updated Pre-Season Name MLB Team MiLB Team
8 8 Delino DeShields Astros Corpus Christi (AA)
12 12 Cory Spangenberg Padres San Antonio (AA)

 

Delino DeShields was hitting .259/.385/.426 for Double-A Corpus Christi when he was hit in the face by a pitch in mid-April.  He suffered a non-displaced fracture of his right cheekbone.  He returned last week and went 6-for-13 with a walk and two home runs in his first three games back.  His hot return has pushed his season line to .299/.405/.522.  If he can keep his OBP near .400 and slug higher than .450, he could see time in Houston in 2015.

 

Cory Spangenberg placed on the disabled list due to concussion-like symptoms after being hit in the head with a baseball that was thrown during batting practice.  He was hitting just .271/.300/.354     with Double-A San Antonio. Spangenberg was drafted tenth overall in the 2011 draft (between Javier Baez and George Springer), and has struggled to live up to his lofty draft position since hitting .316/.419/.418 across two levels in 2011.

 

Superb performance

 

Updated Pre-Season Name MLB Team MiLB Team
1 3 Mookie Betts Red Sox Portland (AA)
3 2 Alex Guerrero Dodgers Albuquerque (AAA)
4 N/R Jose Peraza Braves Lynchburg (High-A)
5 N/R Jorge Polanco Twins Fort Myers (High-A)
6 N/R Micah Johnson White Sox Birmingham (AA)
9 N/R Tommy La Stella Braves Gwinnett (AAA)

 

Though his batting average has fallen to .396 and he’s slugging “only” .597, hyperbole is more than appropriate to discuss Mookie Betts’ 2014 season.  He’s leading the Eastern League in batting average, tied for fifth in on base percentage, and fourth in slugging percentage.  Though Dustin Pedroia blocks him in Boston, there is talk of giving him time at shortstop, center field, and left field in order to turn him into a top of the order version of Ben Zobrist.

 

After a few games in Australia with the Dodgers, Alex Guerrero has been making pitchers in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League look silly, as he has put up a .341/.398/.588 line.  For most teams, the 27-year old Cuban defector would be up in the major leagues, but Dee Gordon is hitting an unexpected .331/.364/.441 with a league-leading 24 stolen bases.  If Gordon falters, Guerrero could get promoted, otherwise he’ll keep raking in the PCL.

 

When Andrelton Simmons agreed to a long-term extension, the Braves moved Jose Peraza from shortstop to second base, where he has continued to hit for a high average, play good defense, and steal bases.  His season line of .327/.348/.395 could be similar to his eventual line in the major leagues.  He is unlikely to reach the major leagues until late 2015 or 2016, but he could be the long-term replacement for Dan Uggla.

 

Jorge Polanco is something of a forgotten man in the Twins farm system that contains Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and a lot of pitchers.  He has the talent to hit .300 with 10-15 home runs in the major leagues, is putting up a .304/.379/.415 line and is showing off his batting eye and ability to make consistent contact with16 walks and 14 strikeouts in 153 plate appearances.  The Twins tend to move their prospects slowly, so it is unlikely that he will reach the majors before the end of 2015, with 2016 being more likely.

 

Micah Johnson has done one thing since the White Sox drafted him in 2012 out of Indiana: hit.  He hit .312/.373/.451 across three levels in 2013, and is hitting .329/.414/.466 in Double-A in 2014.  He lacks the power to hit more than 5 home runs in a season, but he could hit .280 with 20-plus doubles, five-plus triples, and 30-plus stolen bases.

 

The struggles of Dan Uggla have led to much speculation that Tommy La Stella could be called up to replace him at the keystone in Atlanta.  Through May 1, La Stella was hitting .330/.390/.352, but has hit only .200/.359/.267 since.  With Ramiro Pena making starts, it looks like the Braves do not have as much confidence in La Stella as thought.  If La Stella comes up, he could be worth a flier, but don’t mortgage the farm over him.

 

Holding serve

 

Updated Pre-Season Name MLB Team MiLB Team
7 10 Arismendy Alcantara Cubs Iowa (AAA)
10 4 Alen Hanson Pirates Altoona (AA)
11 11 Dilson Herrera Mets St. Lucie (High-A)

 

Arismendy Alcantara’s .271/.289/.465 line in 2014 is eerily similar to his career .279/.331/.420 line.  Though his walk rate is down, he is showing slightly more power against more advanced pitching.  He is without an elite skill, but he could hit .280 with 25 doubles and 30-plus stolen bases.

 

Alen Hanson hit .309/.381/.528 as a 19-year old in Low-A in 2012.  In 2013, he had a solid showing in High-A, which ended with some struggles in Double-A.  His struggles in Double-A have continued in 2014, as he is hitting just .254/.292/.396.  He is 21 and is more than 3.5 years younger than the average player in Double-A, so he will be given time to see if he can turn it around.  His ranking drop is a product of other prospects performing better, not any real change in his ceiling.

 

Acquired from the Pirates as part of the Marlon Byrd trade, Dilson Herrera has played very well as a member of the Mets organization.  He has taken a stride forward in 2014, hitting .297/.347/.361 while decreasing his strikeout rate from 23% to 14%.  He projects as a .300 hitter with 10-plus home runs and 25 doubles, which is a solid second tier second baseman.

 

Struggling

 

Updated Pre-Season Name MLB Team MiLB Team
2 1 Kolten Wong Cardinals Memphis (AAA)

 

After struggling in his introduction to major league pitchers in September 2013, Kolten Wong was given the starting second base position in St. Louis to start 2014.  He struggled further, hitting just .225/.276/.268 in 20 games, and was demoted to Triple-A Memphis, where he is hitting .327/.373/.436.  The Cardinals have received exceedingly little production out of Mark Ellis, Greg Garcia and Daniel Descalso, which could lead to Wong’s getting another extended chance later this summer.

 

On the Bubble (listed alphabetically)

 

Updated Pre-Season Name MLB Team MiLB Team
Bubble N/R Wendell Rijo Boston Red Sox Greenville (Low-A)
Bubble N/R Devon Travis Detroit Tigers Erie (AA)
Bubble N/R Kean Wong Rays Bowling Green (Low-A)

 

Wendell Rijo has the same problem as Mookie Betts – he’s blocked by Dustin Pedroia – but he’s also blocked by Mookie Betts.  He has the potential to be a .300 hitter with 30-plus doubles and good defense, but lacks the speed to steal a lot of bases.  He is at least three full seasons away from being a factor in Boston.

 

Devon Travis strained his pectoral muscle in early April, and has appeared in only four games in 2014.  He projects as a good defensive second baseman who hits around .280 with some stolen bases and the power to hit 20-plus doubles.

 

Kean Wong, the younger brother of Cardinals prospect second baseman Kolten, is a remarkably similar player.  He was a fourth round pick in 2013, and is hitting .339/.377/.417 for Bowling Green of the Low-A Midwest League, where he is the sixth youngest player on an opening day roster.  Wong has a quick, compact swing that will generate many line drives, which, coupled with his advanced approach, could turn him into a .300 hitter with 25 doubles and a handful of home runs.

Matthew Foreman
Matthew Foreman is a baseball prospect writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter.