Farm Futures: Second Base Tiers

Farm Futures: Second Base Tiers

This article is part of our Farm Futures series.

Second base is like the land of misfit toys. These players are not good enough with the glove to play shortstop, and they may not be good enough hitters (or have a good enough arm) to profile at third base. The defensive shift can often cover up for players who lack lateral quickness at the keystone, but with that, the bar to clear to be an average offensive producer at the position continues to rise. Most teams have several players on the farm who have a chance to be competent big-league second baseman, and that internal competition also ups the bar. It is not quite like first base in terms of the pressure on players to produce offensively, but in many cases, when these players fail to live up to offensive expectations, there is nowhere for them to go but to a utility role.

Here are the 2019 second base prospect tiers:

TIER ONE

1. Keston Hiura, Brewers

Hiura and the top player in the second tier are only two spots apart on the top 400, so you might ask why they are in separate tiers. It is because there is a pretty big gap between Hiura (14th overall) and Yordan Alvarez (15th overall). There are 14 prospects in baseball that qualify as signature players to headline a dynasty-league farm system, and Hiura is one of them. He should be a four-category force (he won't run much) and will be up sometime this summer.

TIER TWO

2. Luis Urias

Second base is like the land of misfit toys. These players are not good enough with the glove to play shortstop, and they may not be good enough hitters (or have a good enough arm) to profile at third base. The defensive shift can often cover up for players who lack lateral quickness at the keystone, but with that, the bar to clear to be an average offensive producer at the position continues to rise. Most teams have several players on the farm who have a chance to be competent big-league second baseman, and that internal competition also ups the bar. It is not quite like first base in terms of the pressure on players to produce offensively, but in many cases, when these players fail to live up to offensive expectations, there is nowhere for them to go but to a utility role.

Here are the 2019 second base prospect tiers:

TIER ONE

1. Keston Hiura, Brewers

Hiura and the top player in the second tier are only two spots apart on the top 400, so you might ask why they are in separate tiers. It is because there is a pretty big gap between Hiura (14th overall) and Yordan Alvarez (15th overall). There are 14 prospects in baseball that qualify as signature players to headline a dynasty-league farm system, and Hiura is one of them. He should be a four-category force (he won't run much) and will be up sometime this summer.

TIER TWO

2. Luis Urias, Padres
3. Luis Garcia, Nationals
4. Garrett Hampson, Rockies
5. Vidal Brujan, Rays

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder in this tier. Urias and Hampson are big-league ready. Brujan posted eye-popping numbers in his breakout 2018 campaign. Garcia is the most advanced 18-year-old middle infielder I can recall. With the exception of Brujan, all of these guys could randomly qualify at shortstop in a given year, but they all fit best at the keystone. I think Brujan is the last of these four to reach the majors and he is behind roughly four or five guys on the organizational depth chart, but if he keeps hitting like he did in 2018, it won't matter.

TIER THREE

6. Andres Gimenez, Mets
7. Gavin Lux, Dodgers
8. Brendan Rodgers, Rockies
9. Nick Madrigal, White Sox
10. Tyler Freeman, Indians

Everyone in this tier could technically end up at shortstop, but I'm betting on all of them ending up at second base when it's all said and done. Gimenez and Lux are very similar in terms of fantasy-relevant tools (solid hitters, modest pop, above-average speed). Rodgers will be completely reliant on Coors Field to push his batting average into a respectable range, and right now he is the odd man out in that infield. Madrigal and Freeman are pretty similar, in that they are on the short list of best hit tools in the minors. While they will both contribute double-digit steals, Madrigal has more upside in that category but Freeman is a better bet to develop 15-plus homer pop.

TIER FOUR

11. Brayan Rocchio, Indians
12. Nico Hoerner, Cubs
13. Nick Solak, Rays
14. Jeter Downs, Dodgers
15. Luis Rengifo, Angels
16. Esteury Ruiz, Padres

Everyone in this tier could log a 20-steal season in the big leagues. There are varying degrees of hit tools here, ranging from Rocchio and Hoerner, who could be .300 hitters, to Ruiz, who I don't envision developing into more than a .255 or .260 hitter. Rocchio and Rengifo have the least raw power in this tier, likely topping out around 12-15 long balls in a season.

TIER FIVE

17. Brandon Lowe, Rays
18. Jahmai Jones, Angels
19. Eli White, Rangers
20. Nicky Lopez, Royals
21. Tucupita Marcano, Padres
22. Cavan Biggio, Blue Jays
23. Isan Diaz, Marlins
24. Kevin Kramer, Pirates

Now we're into the range of guys I'm not overly confident in. They certainly could all develop into everyday second basemen, but on a case-by-case basis, the smart money is on betting that each player either settles in as utility infielder/outfielder or something less than that. Most of these guys are pretty close to big-league ready, with the exception of Marcano, who is several years away.

TIER SIX

25. Jose Miranda, Twins
26. Luis Santana, Astros
27. Richard Palacios, Indians
28. Ramon Urias, Cardinals
29. Yunior Severino, Twins
30. Shed Long, Mariners

In Tier Five, those low-ceiling players were mostly all close to the majors. In Tier Six, however, we have a bunch of high-risk guys, many of whom are at least a couple years away from the big leagues.

Honorable Mentions: Jarren Duran (BOS), Raynel Delgado (CLE), Eddy Diaz (COL), Mauricio Dubon (MIL), Aaron Bracho (CLE), Terrin Vavra (COL), Jacob Amaya (LAD), Tyler Frank (TB), Andy Young (ARI), Otto Lopez (TOR), Livan Soto (LAA), Marcos Brito (OAK), Jonathan Arauz (HOU), Eliezer Alvarez (TEX), Jayce Easley (TEX), Laz Rivera (CWS), Jose Fermin (CLE), Kody Clemens (DET), Michael Helman (MIN), Luis Arraez (MIN), Alberto Figuereo (TB), Gionti Turner (TB), Tommy Edman (STL), Leonardo Jimenez (TOR), Samad Taylor (TOR), Esteban Quiroz (SD), Ji-Hwan Bae (PIT), Daniel Brito (PHI), Christopher Torres (MIA), Nicolas Torres (PHI), Stephen Alemais (PIT), Yasel Antuna (WAS)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Anderson
James Anderson is RotoWire's Lead Prospect Analyst, Assistant Baseball Editor, and co-host of Farm Fridays on Sirius/XM radio and the RotoWire Prospect Podcast.
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