April 27, 2017
Guarding The Lines
Dr. Strangeglove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Second Base Prospects
When watching the minors in person, occasionally a position player really pops out at you in a way you don’t quite expect. These are often enough the guys you end up writing a glowing report about after confirming your initial impressions. They aren’t always the top prospects on the team, just guys that make a strong positive initial impression. Last year, guys that stood out for me like this included Andrew Benintendi and Tyler Wade. The first guy that fit the bill for me this year is Daniel Brito, a 2014 six-figure July 2 prospect in the Phillies system. He’s an A-ball second baseman. I usually don’t like A-ball second basemen.
I try to live by the following mantra when talking about live looks: you have to write what you see. So let’s talk about some things I saw. The ball jumps off Brito’s bat. He’s got a real projectable body, and a sweet lefty swing with strong bat speed that, put together, might generate significant power in the not-too-distant future. His approach is unusually advanced given he’s an international prospect that just turned 19 a few months ago. He’s not a true burner down the lines but he shows off athleticism on the basepaths. He’s perfectly fine at second base, with more than enough to remain at the position all the way up and the potential to try other spots like center as well. It’s an interesting package, one that has a lot of upside if that power comes into play, but still projects as a quality MLB player even as-is.
Second base is a strange position developmentally. With some limited exceptions (contrarians love to bring up Jose Altuve), most good modern major-league second basemen came from somewhere else. They’re shortstop prospects who fell a grade of arm or glove short, or third base or outfield prospects that their team tried to stretch. Nearly everyone you’d think of as a prototypical second baseman started somewhere else. Dustin Pedroia, the most second baseman to ever second base, was primarily a shortstop as late as Triple-A and even got in a half-dozen major-league games there. At the A-ball level, you rarely see impact, projectable talent at second, and whenever someone interesting shows up, the question “why is this guy playing second” usually leads to an answer that makes the prospect much less interesting.