In the majors, many second baseman are former shortstops who lacked sufficient range or arm strength to stay there long term, while others are put at second base due to organizational need. Many of the players lack elite upside, but have the potential to be solid everyday players.
The rankings are broken into three parts: the top 10 prospects in order, the next five prospects in alphabetical order and some prospects who could provide some fantasy value in 2015 but are not among the top 15. As always, these rankings are done with fantasy baseball in mind, generally focusing on a standard 5x5 league, but other statistics (e.g., OBP) are considered.
Top 10 Prospects:
1. Jose Peraza, Atlanta Braves
Highest Level: AA Mississippi (Southern League)
2014 Statistics: .342/.365/.454 with 1 HR (66 games, High-A Lynchburg); .335/.363/.422 with 1 HR (44 games, AA Mississippi)
A great defensive shortstop, Peraza was shifted to second base after the Braves signed Andrelton Simmons to a long-term extension. Peraza started 2014 on a hot streak and never seemed to cool off, setting personal highs in nearly every offensive category while stealing 60 bases for the second consecutive season. He has a mature, contact-oriented approach at the plate, and projects to hit .300 with 2-4 HR and 40+ stolen bases at his peak while playing gold glove-caliber defense.
2. Micah Johnson, Chicago White Sox
Highest Level: AAA Charlotte (International League)
2014 Statistics: .329/.414/.466 with 3 HR (37 games, AA Birmingham); .275/.314/.370 with 2 HR (65 games, AAA Charlotte)
Johnson started 2014 on fire, hitting .364/.457/.535 with 3 HR in April, earning a promotion to AAA in early May. He missed two weeks in early May/late June with a hamstring strain, then his season ended in mid-August when he re-aggravated his injury. Johnson’s contact-heavy approach could lead to a .290 average at his peak, but he is unlikely to hit more than a handful of home runs and could struggle to put up more than 20 extra base hits despite speed that should allow him to swipe 30 bases on an annual basis. He could be the White Sox’s starting second baseman coming out of spring training.
3. Alen Hanson, Pittsburgh Pirates
Highest Level: AA Altoona (Eastern League)
2014 Statistics: .280/.326/.442 with 11 HR (118 games, AA Altoona)
Hanson returned to Altoona in 2014, starting slowly, but put up a .292/.339/.470 line from May 11 through the end of the season. More notably, Hanson was permanently moved to second base in August, where his defensive limitations will not be an issue. At his peak, he projects as a .300 hitter with 2-4 home runs who steals 30+ bases.
4. Forrest Wall, Colorado Rockies
Highest Level: Rookie Level Grand Junction (Pioneer League)
2014 Statistics: .318 /.416/.490 with 3 HR (41 games, Rookie Level Grand Junction)
Wall, the 35th overall pick in the 2014 draft, had a solid debut in the offense-friendly Pioneer League. He lacks elite upside, but has a knack for solid contact, and projects to hit .300 with 15+ HR and 30+ stolen bases at his peak. He is limited to second base due to a weak throwing arm, but could be moved to center field to take advantage of his speed and instincts.
5. Devon Travis, Toronto Blue Jays
Highest Level: AA Erie (Eastern League)
2014 Statistics: .298/.358/.460 with 10 HR (100 games, AA Erie)
In mid-November, the Tigers traded Travis to Toronto for Anthony Gose. Travis went from being blocked by Ian Kinsler to being blocked by Maicer Izturis, which could allow Travis to become the starting second baseman in Toronto before Canada Day. He missed the first five weeks of the season with a strained pectoral muscle, but returned to have a solid but not spectacular season. He projects as a .280 hitter with 15+ stolen bases and a handful of home runs.
6. Dilson Herrera, New York Mets
Highest Level: New York (National League)
2014 Statistics: .307/.355/.410 with 3 HR (67 games, High-A St. Lucie); .340/.406/.560 with 10 HR (61 games, AA Binghamton); .220/.303/.407 with 3 HR (18 games, New York)
Herrera, acquired from the Pirates in 2013 as part of the Marlon Byrd trade, had a great year in 2014. After a good start in St. Lucie, Herrera caught fire in Binghamton, leading to a cup of coffee in Queens. He projects as a .300 hitter with 10-15 home runs, 25+ doubles and 10+ stolen bases. He is unlikely to open the season with the Mets, but should take over at the keystone once Daniel Murphy becomes a free agent after 2015.
7. Ryan Brett, Tampa Bay Rays
Highest Level: AA Montgomery (Southern League)
2014 Statistics: .303/.346/.448 with 8 HR (107 games, AA Montgomery)
Brett has come far since being suspended 50 games for taking Adderall in August 2012, hitting over .300 in consecutive seasons as he advanced from High-A to AA. Brett lacks impact talent, but has the ability to be a solid defensive second baseman while hitting .280 with 30 stolen bases at his peak. He is behind Nick Franklin, Tim Beckham and Hak-Ju Lee, but is the most offensively talented of the bunch and could force himself into the starting lineup in Tampa Bay before the end of 2015, especially now that Ben Zobrist is in Oakland.
8. Sean Coyle, Boston Red Sox
Highest Level: AA Portland (Eastern League)
2014 Statistics: .295/.371/.512 with 16 HR (96 games, AA Portland)
Coyle is the high-energy, hard-working player that will endear himself to any fan base, but he has struggled to play a full season over the last two seasons due to nagging injuries that are often the product of many players who are described as “grinders.” He is behind both Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts on the second base depth chart, and is similarly blocked at third base (where he played 18 games in 2014). As such, he is more likely organizational depth or a trade chip than a future starting second baseman for the Red Sox. His peak potential is hitting .280 with 20 home runs.
9. Josh Morgan, Texas Rangers
Highest Level: Short Season-A Spokane (Northwest League)
2014 Statistics: .336 /.468/.372 with 0 HR (33 games, Rookie AZL Rangers); 303/.392/.315 with 0 HR (23 games, Short Season-A Spokane)
Morgan employs a quick swing and good speed to hit for a high average, but his below-average power could limit his ceiling. He also has a good approach at the plate, walking 29 times and striking out 23 times in 56 games across two levels. Morgan’s polish and approach could put him on the fast track to the major leagues, but the Rangers have a clogged middle infield at the major league level, with Andrus and Odor slotted to start, as well as Travis Demeritte, Luis Sardinas, Hanser Alberto and Jurickson Profar waiting in the wings.
10. Travis Demeritte, Texas Rangers
Highest Level: Low-A Hickory (South Atlantic League)
2014 Statistics: .211/.310/.450 with 25 HR (118 games, Low-A Hickory)
In many ways, Demeritte is the opposite type of prospect as Josh Morgan. Demeritte is loaded with power, as shown by his 25 HR in 2014, but Travis struggles with pitch selection and is prone to chasing pitches out of the strike zone, as shown by 171 strikeouts in 2014. He has the potential to hit 20+ home runs while hitting .280, but will need to make large strides in his approach to reach his ceiling. He may end up at third base, and has played roughly 17% of his games at the hot corner.
Next Five (Alphabetical Order):
Domingo Leyba, Arizona Diamondbacks (.264/.303/.375 with 1 HR in 37 games with Short Season-A Connecticut; .397/.431/.483 with 1 HR in 30 games with Low-A West Michigan). Leyba is without a standout talent, but he has good fundamentals and has good pitch recognition, especially for a 19 year old. The Tigers traded him to the Diamondbacks in the deal that sent Didi Gregorius to the Yankees.
Trace Loehr, Oakland A’s (2014 draft, 6th round, 27th pick). Currently a shortstop, but profiles better at second base due to average range and arm strength. Projects as a .290 hitter with 10 home runs at his peak.
Wendell Rijo, Boston Red Sox (.254/.348/.416 with 9 HR in 111 games for Low-A Greenville). Similar to Sean Coyle, Rijo is beyond blocked within the Red Sox organization, but he is much further away, having spent the season with Low-A Greenville. Projects as a .300 hitter, but power is more gap than over-the-fence.
Cory Spangenberg, San Diego Padres (.331/.365/.470 with 2 HR in 66 games for AA San Antonio; .290/.313/.452 with 2 HR in 20 games for Padres). Solid major league debut in 2014 for the former 10th overall pick after a few years of sub-standard production and injury woes. Blocked by Gyorko and Solarte, and will only return to San Diego if he can get consistent at bats, as Clint Barmes is a solid backup middle infielder.
Kean Wong, Tampa Bay Rays (.306/.347/.370 with 2 HR in 106 games for Low-A Bowling Green). Younger brother of Cardinals’ second baseman Kolten Wong, Kean is more of the same. Projects as a .300 hitter with gap power and 20+ stolen bases. Wong is blocked by prospects higher in the minor leagues, but will likely be brought along slowly, as is the normal process in Tampa.
2015 Fantasy Value (Alphabetical Order):
Alex Guerrero, Los Angeles Dodgers. Blocked by Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick in LA, but has the talent to be solid second baseman at the major league level. Went 1-for-13 during his time in the majors, but hit well in AAA despite missing time due to an injury suffered when a teammate bit his ear.
Taylor Lindsey, San Diego Padres. Lindsey struggled in AAA in 2014, but could see time in San Diego in 2014 at second base or third base. Lacks elite talent.
Jose Pirela, New York Yankees. Looked like a good candidate to start at second base in the Bronx until the Yankees signed Stephen Drew, though he could still face LHP as part of a platoon. Always seems to put the bat on the ball, could hit .300 with minimal power and a handful of stolen bases.
Carlos Sanchez, Chicago White Sox. Something of a last man standing at the keystone for the White Sox, Sanchez projects to be the starting second baseman. The signing of Emilio Bonifacio puts pressure on Sanchez to hit in spring training to keep his position. A strong defender, questions remain about his bat.
Robert Refsnyder, New York Yankees. A breakout star in the high minor leagues, hitting .318/.387/.497 between AA and AAA, the former 5th round pick firmly entrenched himself on the prospect map. Blocked in the Bronx, he has the potential to hit .280 with 25+ doubles while turning into a bleacher creature favorite for his high baseball-IQ and hard work.