January 20, 2015
Get to Know
Second Base Prospects
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While there are a surplus of viable 2015 options when it comes to prospects at the keystone, few offer the blend of immediacy that was seen in last year’s list, populated with the likes of Kolten Wong and Arismendy Alcantara. We also saw names like Mookie Betts, Rougned Odor, and Dilson Herrera pop up from the “2015 and Beyond” section and make contributions to the 2014 fantasy landscape. The graduation of many prospects to the upper minors has left the “2016 and Beyond” section a bit threadbare, but part of that is also due to second base remaining a last refuge of sorts for middle infield prospects. While it can seem like a position of weakness, keep in mind that shortstop prospects who can’t stick will transition over to second, adding some depth as we roll along.
Jose Peraza, Braves
Perhaps the winner of the yearly “undervalued-to-overvalued contest,” Peraza has been a name flying up draft boards. Partially because he proved himself over 195 Double-A plate appearances, and partially because the Braves made Alberto Callaspo the only thing standing in the way of a starting gig. He’s got speed to burn and should hit for a solid average. He’ll be able to add runs to his contributions when he’s hitting atop a decent lineup, but it’s unclear when that will be in Atlanta. He’s not one for walking, and the assumption is that won’t change much as major league pitchers will challenge players they don’t think can punish them. He’s a nice asset if you need speed, but plenty will overrate him based on opportunity and immediacy.
Micah Johnson, White Sox
Another in the speed/batting average/immediacy mold, Johnson tore up Double-A before struggling a bit in Charlotte. At 24 years old, the White Sox won’t be afraid to push him if he comes out hitting, but his ceiling is relatively limited. He’s fine as a speed option in fantasy, but little else should be expected. He is probably not worth adding until there’s a rumor he’s about to get called up.
Devon Travis, Blue Jays
The big piece in the deal that sent Anthony Gose to Detroit, Travis first became a name when he landed on the back end of Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects list last year. He followed that up with an injury-shortened, quality season at Double-A, though it should be noted that at 23, he was a bit old for the level. Travis suffered injuries towards the start and end of the year, but put up 100 games of a .298/.358/.460 slash line with 16 stolen bases in the process. There’s significant doubt on if he’ll be even a second-division starter, but if he does get playing time, fantasy owners can expect him not to hurt anywhere, but not to be of any particular help either. He’s best used as a band-aid player in fantasy, and perhaps in real life too.
Dilson Herrera, Mets
While he struggled in an 18-game major league stint, Herrera shredded two different levels of the minors in 2014. He posted a combined .323/.379/.479 slash line and was actually better at Double-A, more than doubling his ISO from High-A, and walking almost twice as often. A pure hitter, Herrera’s power is likely to be more of the average variety, and while he runs well, he’s likely to be a low double-digit stealer than anything else. At maturity, Herrera should hit for average while contributing at least small amount in stolen bases and home runs.
Robert Refsnyder, Yankees
Largely unknown prior to 2014, Refsnyder burst into our collective consciousness thanks to loud numbers and Yankee fans alike. He split his season between Double- and Triple-A, hitting a combined .318/.387/.497, hitting for more average and power at the lower level, but walking significantly more in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He’ll have an opportunity to play in the Bronx in 2015, especially with Prado shipped out of town, but expectations should be tempered. Already 23, Refsnyder has been beating up on younger competition for the majority of his major league career, and scouts are skeptical his production is for real. That doesn’t mean it’s not, but that a wait-and-see approach is likely warranted, before buying in on the hype.
Taylor Lindsey, Padres
Not even fast enough to earn a Taylor Swift joke, sigh.
Odubel Herrera, Phillies
The Rule 5 pick has a chance to grab some playing time on the finally-rebuilding Phillies. He’s got real tools and put up a .321/.373/.402 slash line in Double-A Frisco last year, before an impressive winter league campaign. He can also bat flip like a champ (you’re going to want your volume low). As evidenced by his slugging percentage, Herrera isn’t a future home run king, but he’ll help out in stolen bases and hit well enough. He’ll likely go extremely cheap on draft day, but if he can get the playing time, he should produce.
Joe Wendle, Athletics
Another hit-tool-first player, Wendle struggled in 87 games at Double-A, slashing .253/.311/.414 around a broken hamate bone suffered in June. His makeup is off the charts, so there’s every reason to believe that Wendle will get the most out of his ability, but unfortunately that ability, paired with his home park, leaves something to be desired in a fantasy context. He could see the majors this year as he’ll be 25 in April.
Others: Sean Coyle, Red Sox; Cory Spangenberg, Padres; Jorge Polanco, Twins; Ryan Brett, Rays; Luis Sardinas, Rangers; Alex Guerrero, Dodgers; Christian Colon, Royals; Carlos Sanchez, White Sox; Ronny Rodriguez, Indians
2016 and Beyond
Forrest Wall, Rockies
A personal favorite in terms of fantasy prospects out of the draft, the smooth-hitting Wall landed in the best possible place when he was selected by the Rockies. There are medical concerns galore with Wall, but if he can stay on the field, he’s going to produce, just as he did in the Pioneer League, slashing .318/.416/.490, and swiped 18 bases in 41-games. At present, Wall is the highest-upside second base prospect in the fantasy game.
Chris Bostick, Nationals
A splish of an acquisition by a GM known for splashes, Bostick could be the Nationals long-term answer at the keystone. He’s a second-division prospect, perhaps a role 55 at best, but he has the ability to contribute across the board, even if those contributions lack impact. He pilfered 24 bags last year, but needs to improve on his technique, as he was caught 11 times.
Travis Demeritte, Rangers
The 2013 first-round pick showed himself to be a three-true-outcomes player, something of a rarity at the position. He swatted 25 home runs and compiled a 10.7 percent walk rate, while striking out a staggering 36.7 percent of the time. His .211/.310/.450 slash line in Low-A isn’t going to inspire too many buyers, but there’s potential to be had here if you can live with the swing-and-miss. The Rangers have had success with high-strikeout prospects, as Lewis Brinson dropped his strikeout rate from 38 percent in 2013, to 25 percent last season, and Joey Gallo had chopped nine percentage points of his rate prior to a promotion to Double-A. They’ll hope that Demeritte can make the same type of adjustments going forward.
Others: Tony Kemp, Astros; Tony Renda, Nationals; Domingo Leyba, Diamondbacks; Avery Romero, Marlins; Hernan Perez, Tigers; Alex Yarbrough, Angels; Wendell Rijo, Red Sox; Gosuke Katoh, Yankees
We Hardley Knew Ye
Angelo Gumbs, Yankees
Dorssys Paulino, Indians
Cord Phelps, Orioles
Craig Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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