The 2016 second baseman rankings are broken into two parts: the top 10 prospects in order and the next 10 prospects in alphabetical order. As always, these rankings are done from a scouting perspective but with fantasy baseball in mind, generally focusing on standard 5x5 league categories – though other statistics (e.g., OBP) are considered – and long-term, dynasty-league value.
The Top 10:
1. Yoan Moncada, Boston Red Sox (High-A Salem Red Sox)
2016 Stats: 17 G, .344/.463/.469, 15 R, 6 XBH (0 HR), 8 RBI, 13 SB, 14 BB, 19 K
The Red Sox captured headlines with their signing of Moncada in March 2015, when the club gave the then-19-year-old infielder a record $31.5 million bonus -- $63 million including the steep penalty tax for eclipsing their international spending limit. He struggled during the first month of his professional debut in the South Atlantic League last year but thrived the rest of the way, hitting .310/.415/.500 with 25 extra-base hits and 45 steals over his final 56 games. The 20-year-old is a dynamic offensive talent whose combination of elite bat speed (from both sides of the plate) and plus-plus speed could make him a fantasy rock star. That being said, he’s unlikely to arrive in the big leagues before the 2017 season.
Impact categories: R, SB, AVG, OBP
2. Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs (High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans)
2016 Stats: 19 G, .309/.440/.529, 11 R, 8 XBH (3 HR), 15 RBI, 3 SB, 15 BB, 20 K
Happ shot up draft boards last spring at the University of Cincinnati, hitting .369 with 14 home runs and ranking among the NCAA Division I leaders in both on-base (.492) and slugging percentage (.672). The Cubs ultimately landed the 21-year-old with the No. 9 overall pick, and he went on to hit .259/.356/.466 with 17 doubles and nine home runs in 67 games while reaching Low-A South Bend in his professional debut. An advanced switch-hitter with a mature approach and plus bat speed from both sides of the plate, Happ projects for plus hitting talent and average power, and he’s fast enough to post double-digit stolen bases in a given season. He played mostly right field for the Bearcats and saw time at all three outfield spots during his pro debut, but the Cubs moved him back to second base (his primary position in college) in during fall instruction league. Though he has gains to make defensively, Happ has the makings of a top-tier fantasy second baseman if he can remain at the position.
Impact categories: R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, OBP
3. Jose Peraza, 2B/SS/OF, Cincinnati Reds (Triple-A Louisville Bats)
2016 Stats: 16 G, .288/.338/.348, 15 R, 3 XBH (0 HR), 3 RBI, 2 SB, 5 BB, 12 K
The 2015 season was a busy one for Peraza. The Braves dealt him to the Dodgers at the Trade Deadline as part of a massive, three-team deal built around Hector Olivera, and the Venezuela native made his Major League debut nearly two weeks later. The offseason saw Peraza traded once again when the Dodgers shipped him to the Reds in another three-team blockbuster, this time involving Todd Frazier. Peraza’s outstanding bat-to-ball skills allow him to put the ball in play consistently – he’s also an excellent bunter – and he utilizes his plus speed to pile up infield hits. He notched at least 60 steals in each of his two previous campaigns but swiped only 33 in 2015 as he bounced between organizations and battled a hamstring injury late in the season. Peraza, 21, saw some time in center field with the Dodgers but has a clearer path at second base with the Reds, who could conceivably trade veteran Brandon Phillips at some point in 2016.
Impact categories: R, SB, AVG
4. Forrest Wall, Colorado Rockies (High-A Modesto Nuts)
2016 Stats: 16 G, .286/.363/.443, 7 R, 6 XBH (2 HR), 17 RBI, 4 SB, 7 BB, 18 K
After an eye-opening professional debut in 2014, Wall’s combination of power and speed translated as expected last season in the South Atlantic League, where he hit seven home runs, 10 triples, 16 doubles and swiped 23 bags for Low-A Asheville. He also had balanced home and road splits despite playing in a home park that heavily favors left-handed hitters. Wall suffered a knee injury in late June and as a result spent more than a month on the disabled list, but he returned to finish the season on a positive note, hitting .338 with 15 extra-base hits over his final 34 games. The 20-year-old remains years away from making an impact with the Rockies, but he has the potential to develop into across-the-board fantasy contributor – one who benefits from playing half of his games at Coors Field.
Impact categories: R, SB, AVG
5. Alen Hanson, Pittsburgh Pirates (Triple-A Indianapolis Indians)
2016 Stats: 13 G, .368/.400/.491, 7 R, 3 XBH (1 HR), 6 RBI, 5 SB, 3 BB, 18 K
Hanson’s power continued to decline with a move up to Triple-A in 2015, but he still showed his fantasy potential by accruing 35 extra-base hits and stealing 35 bases in 117 games. While the 23-year-old isn’t selective enough to hit for average or get on base at a favorable clip at the highest level, he does have the talent to be a solid fantasy contributor at the keystone. Unfortunately for his owners, it likely will take an injury to Josh Harrison for Hanson to see significant playing time in 2016.
Impact categories: R, RBI, SB
6. Willie Calhoun, Los Angeles Dodgers (Double-A Tulsa Drillers)
2016 Stats: 18 G, .235/.268/.368, 9 R, 5 XBH (2 HR), 7 RBI, 3 BB, 9 K
After being selected in the fourth round last June, Calhoun proceeded to hit .316 with a .909 OPS and 11 home runs in 73 games across three levels, finishing the year at High-A Rancho Cucamonga. As a result of his immediate success, the Dodgers sent him straight to Double-A Tulsa for his first full professional season. The 21-year-old’s pull-happy approach is likely to be exposed in the Texas League; but based on his track record, there’s reason to believe that Calhoun will make the necessary adjustments at the Double-A as he continues his rapid ascension toward the Major Leagues.
Impact categories: HR, RBI, AVG, OBP
7. Wilmer Difo, Washington Nationals (Double-A Harrisburg Senators)
2016 Stats: 17 G, .200/.333/.250, 8 R, 3 XBH (0 HR), 3 RBI, 6 SB, 12 BB, 7 K
After a breakout performance at Low-A Hagerstown in 2014, Difo’s power numbers came back to earth last season at Double-A Harrisburg, for whom he hit just two home runs in 87 games. More concerning was the regression in his approach, as he posted a 3.1 percent walk rate after he had walked at a 6.1-percent clip the previous year. If he can show more patience at the plate moving forward -- which he has so far in 2016 -- and apply his impressive hitting talent and speed more consistently, there’s little doubt that Difo will rank toward the top of this list. He’s played shortstop primarily this season for the Senators, but with Trea Turner set to man the position in Washington for the foreseeable future, all signs point to Difo eventually shifting to second base full time.
Impact categories: R, SB
8. Jorge Polanco, SS/2B, Minnesota Twins (MLB)
2016 Stats (AAA): 11 G, .316/.357/.553, 4 R, 4 XBH (1 HR), 2 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K
A .288/.348/.404 career hitter over parts of seven minor league seasons, Polanco, 22, stands out the most from his pure hitting ability from both sides of the plate. He possesses the speed to make an impact on the base paths but also has yet to make strides as a basestealer, a notion supported by his 55 stolen bases in 96 attempts (57.3 percent) for his career. With Brian Dozier signed through 2018 and Eduardo Escobar handling shortstop for the time being, Polanco is without a clear path to playing time in Minnesota. But with regular playing time, however, he has the potential to be an average contributor in multiple categories.
Impact categories: R, AVG
9. Robert Refsnyder, New York Yankees (Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)
2016 Stats: 16 G, .190/.257/.238, 5 R, 2 XBH (0 HR), 5 RBI, 4 SB, 6 BB, 6 K
Refsnyder received his first taste of the big leagues in 2015, when he hit .302 with two home runs in 16 games for the Yankees. The 25-year-old lacks standout talent and doesn’t offer much fantasy value in terms of counting stats, but his defensive versatility -- he’s started more games at third base than second so far in 2016 -- could lead to more at-bats and make him a solid contributor in a reserve role.
Impact categories: AVG, OBP
10. Scott Kingery, Philadelphia Phillies (High-A Clearwater Threshers)
2016 Stats: 18 G, .296/.390/.408, 15 R, 7 XBH (0 HR), 1 RBI, 5 SB, 10 BB, 9 K
Kingery hit .392/.423/.561 with a seven percent strikeout rate last spring at the University of Arizona, prompting the Phillies to take him 48th overall in the 2015 draft. What the 21-year-old lacks in the way of power he makes up for with his pure hitting ability and speed, the combination of which could make him an everyday player for the Phillies in the coming years. He’s off to a strong start in his first full professional season in spite of an aggressive Opening Day assignment to the High-A Florida State League.
Impact categories: R, SB, AVG
The Next 10 (Alphabetical Order):
Ryan Brett, Tampa Bay Rays (Triple-A Durham Bulls)
Travis Demeritte, Texas Rangers (High-A High Desert Mavericks)
Andy Ibanez, Texas Rangers (Low-A Hickory Crawdads)
Micah Johnson, Los Angeles Dodgers (Triple-A Oklahoma City – DL)
Tony Kemp, Houston Astros (Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies)
Brandon Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays (Low-A Bowling Green Hot Rods)
Mark Mathias, Cleveland Indians (High-A Lynchburg Hillcats)
Joe Wendle, Oakland Athletics (Triple-A Nashville Sounds)
Jamie Westbrook, Arizona Diamondbacks (Double-A Mobile Bears)
Kean Wong, Tampa Bay Rays (Double-A Montgomery Biscuits)