Last week, I brought to your attention the top first base prospects heading into the 2018 season. If 2018 is anything like last year, a few prospects will not only help your fantasy team throughout the season, but also help make a deep push into the playoffs. This week, I will be breaking down the second base position. Second base has always had bright spots such as Bret Boone, Chase Utley, Dustin Pedroia, and perennial All-Star Jose Altuve. Second base has become a position where players provide plenty of pop to fantasy rosters. Most notably, we’ve seen huge seasons from Robinson Cano, Daniel Murphy, Ian Kinsler, and the aforementioned Jose Altuve. Now, you may ask yourself, but who’s next? Well, you’re in store for this week’s installment of second base prospects in “That’s Amore!” Minor League Maestros: Second Basemen 2018.
Scott Kingery – Philadelphia Phillies
Minors: .304/.359/.530/26 HR/65 RBI
Soctt Kingery was on a tear in 2017. We saw him improve on five 2016 home runs with 26 in 2017. He’s projected to hit at the top-of-the-order, and brings the perfect approach with a quick, short swing. He draws walks, works the count, and only had 109 strikeouts in 543 at-bats. While a strikeout rate of 20% is a bit higher than the 16.9% of 2017, the percentage wasn’t a drastic increase compared to the uptick in power Kingery provided. What makes Kingery even more appealing was the fact that he was able to come close to the 30 stolen bases from 2016 with 29 in 2017. This will only help the projected lead-off batter that makes a living shooting line drives into the gaps. In an era where it’s very difficult to find a true lead off batter, Kingery is sure to provide the Phillies with a much needed leadoff man. Kingery is a player to target in the later rounds of drafts, and 90+ runs per season isn’t out of the question.
Luis Urias – San Diego Padres
Minors: .296/.398/.380/3 HR/38 RBI
Urias took a slight step backward in 2017 after slashing .333/.404/.446 in 2016. However, Urias spent all of 2017 in AA-San Antonio, and split time between second base and shortstop. While Urias could handle playing shortstop, he’s projected as an above-average second baseman with plenty of upside due in part to his strong throwing arm, quick feet, and solid hands. At the plate, Urias consistently drives the ball the other way, and at 20 years-old he has plenty of time to develop his natural raw power. Like Scott Kingery, Urias is projected to hit at the top-of-the-order, and can easily help the likes of Wil Myers and newly acquired Eric Hosmer drive in their fair share of runs. Urias continues to play to his strength, and like last season I draw comparisons to that of Eduardo Nunez. Both Nunez and Urias are true athletes that can play all over the diamond, and as I’ve mentioned numerous times athletes have become the most desirable players across baseball.
Travis Demeritte – Atlanta Braves
Minors: .231/.306/.402/15 HR/45 RBI
Demeritte still cracks my list of top second base prospects, even after a taking a step back, in production, compared to 2016. 2017 was his first season in Double-A, but there is plenty to like about Demeritte’s game. The average (.231) and home runs (15) were down from 2016 that saw him hit .266 with 28 home runs, but he was able to lower his strikeouts by 40. With Dansby Swanson regressing from 2016, and Ozzie Albies looking to take a leap, the time is now for Demeritte to start off hot in 2018. Still, if Swanson does rebound, and Albies locks down second base for the foreseeable future, Demeritte could still find a job at the hot corner. There’s no denying Demeritte’s power, and the great backspin he generates. His plus throwing arm could potentially give the Braves three players, across the infield, with electric arms. It’s only a matter of time before it clicks, and when it does, Demeritte could become a household name for a Braves team that is looking to once again compete for the National League East.
Keston Hiura – Milwaukee Brewers
Minors: .371/.422/.611/4 HR/33 RBI
The ninth overall pick in last year’s draft, Hiura impressed in his short time playing professional baseball. Arguably the top collegiate hitter (.442 average) entering the 2017 draft, the Brewers made an emphasis in helping replenish their middle infield prospects. Hiura possesses a short, compact stroke, and his great bat speed allows him to barrel up the ball with great precision. While he’s not the fastest runner on the bases, he possesses great baseball IQ and is a solid base runner making few mental errors. Defensively, Hiura is an average defender, but projections could see him eventually making the move to left field. The only question mark for Hiura is a right elbow injury that could eventually require surgery. As of now, the ailing elbow hasn’t been an issue, and expect Hiura to build off his inaugural 2016 season.
Isan Diaz – Miami Marlins
Minors: .222/.334/.376/13 HR/54 RBI
Diaz was part of the return the Marlins received after sending Christian Yelich to the Brewers. After monster 2015 and 2016 seasons, Diaz took a slight dip in production during the 2017 season. His power numbers struggled, but he still showed the ability to provide raw power to all parts of the field. Hitting from the left-side of the plate, and providing enormous amounts of power with an upper-cut swing, watching Diaz hit reminds me a lot of Javier Baez. Although Diaz showed an aggressive approach during 2017, he was able to increase his walk rate from 14.2% to 16.1%. Diaz made a smooth transition to second base after spending the first-part of his minor league career at shortstop. Assuming he sticks at second, Diaz could become one of the better power-hitting second basemen in the game while providing the Marlins with their best power-hitting second basemen since Dan Uggla. Just like Uggla, strikeouts will be a concern as Diaz ended the 2017 season with a strikeout percentage of 31.5%. Still, there’s a lot to like about the slugging second baseman.
Max Schrock – St. Louis Cardinals
Minors: .321/.379/.422/7 HR/46 RBI
Schrock has hit just about everywhere in the lineup. Part of the deal that sent Stephen Piscotty to the Oakland A’s, Schrock could see himself with the Cardinals this season if Kolten Wong were to suffer an injury, or see a dip in production. Schrock brings a great eye to the batter’s box, and walked 34 times, compared to only 42 strikeouts, in 417 at-bats. Given his 5’8″ 180lb frame, Schrock does possess some pop, and 15+ home runs isn’t out of the question. While he doesn’t possess the arm strength as the others on this list, Schrock’s ability at the plate will keep him in the lineup. I’m not suggesting, by any means, that he will be a future All-Star, but Schrock could help in the runs scored department, as well as on-base percentage.
Shed Long – Cincinnati Reds
Minors: .281/.358/.477/16 HR/50 RBI
Drafted in the 12th round of the 2013 draft, Long has gotten better and better during every stop in minor league baseball. A switch-hitter, Long hits better from the left-side, and has a surprising amount of power standing at only 5’8″ 184lbs. Long hits to all parts of the field, and possesses better-than-average base running speed. Assuming he’s able to manage the field defensively, his offensive ability is what will make him a Major League-ready ball player. Playing in Cincinnati should help his power numbers, and Long could prove to be a lower-end power supply from the second base position. If Scooter Gennett’s 2017 season was a fluke, and Jose Peraza continues to struggle against Major League pitching, the Reds could decide to look elsewhere and decide to give Long his shot in Major League Baseball. Don’t let his size full you, Long provides great power, above-average speed, and could turn into a waiver wire gem, and one you’ve never heard of, as early as the 2018 season.
Garrett Hampson – Colorado Rockies
Minors: .326/.387/.462/8 HR/70 RBI
The Rockies possess one of the more intriguing farm systems in terms of prospects in the middle infield. While we all anxiously get ready for the apparent heir to the shortstop position in Brendan Rodgers, Garrett Hampson is a name to immediately keep an eye on. He led the minors with 113 runs scored, and swiped 51 bases in 65 attempts. HIs phenomenal speed sets him apart from the field, and he’s made a living hitting the ball on the ground and legging out base hits. He has a knack for hitting line drives, and while he may not possess great amount of power, he immediately becomes fantasy relevant for the ability to take the extra base on what most players would consider a routine base hit. He has a quick, compact swing and has made the necessary adjustments to keep the ball linear rather than popping the ball up. His speed is a given, but Hampson is a plus defender, and numerous experts suggest his defense is on-par with those competing for Gold Gloves.
Eliezer Alvarez – St. Louis Cardinals
Minors: .248/.318/.390/5 HR/28 RBI
Unless you follow the Cardinals organization closely, you may find yourself asking who is Eliezer Alvarez? Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, the Cardinals liked what they saw out of the then 17 year-old. There’s no secret that the Cardinals have a history of finding talent, and the career-.285 hitter continues to make progress at all stops in the minor leagues. 2017 was the 22 year-old’s first stop in Double-A baseball. Alvarez has the talent to play either middle-infield position, but projects better at second base. After a dismal 2016 season committing 27 errors, Alvarez was able to lower the number to 16 in 2017. Still, Alvarez is a work in progress, but the Cardinals are always patient developing talent, and Alvarez will have every opportunity to prove he’s ready to make the leap to the Big League roster. Alvarez is a player to monitor, and if he does make the necessary leaps, he could be in St. Louis earlier than my projection of 2019-2020.
Nick Solak – New York Yankees
Minors: .297/.384/.452/12 HR/53 RBI
Another Louisville product with plus hitting ability, and above-average speed Solak has excelled hitting for average. Another righty with a quick, compact speed, the Yankees prospect has shown the ability to continually hit for the gaps. In two years of minor league ball, Solak has shown the ability to improve on his long ball numbers, and his speed has allowed him to get on base frequently. He provides superior defense, but lacks the strong arm we’ve been accustom to from modern-day second basemen. While the Yankees could break camp with Ronald Torreyes as their starting second baseman, Solak could prove to be an upgrade while providing great speed that could only help this powerful lineup drive in more runs. It’s scary to think a lineup that will feature Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Gary Sanchez could get a boost to score even more runs.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Thursday February 22nd, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #100 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Our guest this week is John Gozzi. John is new to the MLFS baseball writing staff in 2018 and His articles publish every Saturday morning at 7am. He is also the co-host of our Sunday show along with Brian Roach Jr, which airs live from [7:30]-9pm EST every week.
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