Last week, I broke down the top first base prospects heading into 2019. There was feedback regarding the Rays’ Nate Lowe, and I felt he was a player that should’ve been on the list. There’s no doubt he’s going to get the call this season, and it’s hard to leave a guy that slashed .330/.416/.568 with 27 home runs and 100 RBI of the list. So, here’s to you, Reddit Universe.
This week, I want to shift our attention to second base. There’s no denying the second base position holds some solid prospects, and a few should be making an impact in 2019. This next wave of prospects could see a few with 20 home run, and 20 stolen base potential. This type of potential plays big for fantasy owners, especially those in keeper/dynasty league, and this week I’ll give a rundown of ten we should start keeping an eye on. This week, I bring you “That’s Amore!” Minor League Maestros: Second Basemen 2019.
Keston Hiura – Milwaukee Brewers
Minors: .293/.357/.464/13 HR/43 RBI/15 SB
I’ve seen Hiura ranked one or two throughout numerous outlets, but he’s arguably my top second base prospect. He was on the top collegiate (Cal Irvine) hitters coming out of the 2017 draft, and had a successful minor league debut featuring in the Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game. His short, direct swing brings great bat speed with the ability to hit to all parts of the field. He projects as a top-of-the-order hitter, and while he isn’t headed for 30+ steals a season, he doesn’t have above-average speed and gets solid reads off pitchers. He’s a smart base runner, and this could allow him to reach 15-20 stolen bases annually. Defense has been a concern. While he possesses solid foot work, he doesn’t possess the strongest of arms, which could lead him moving to left field. Still, there’s a lot to like in the smooth-hitting second basemen, and if Hernan Perez doesn’t produce for the 2018 NL Central Champs, it’s only a matter of time before Milwaukee calls Hiura to the Majors. Given the lineup the Brewers feature, Hiura would make the perfect addition to the top of their order.
Gavin Lux – Los Angeles Dodgers
Minors: .324/.399/.514/15 HR/57 RBI
The Dodgers are ready to win now, and they’ve come awfully close. They are getting Corey Seager back from season-ending Tommy John Surgery, and this locks up the shortstop position. While many experts list Lux on their shortstop ranking list, I can’t see Lux playing shortstop for the Dodgers. With Justin Turner solidifying third base, the only way Lux plays shortstop for the Dodgers is if Seager were to move to third, but see the beginning on this comment. That leaves second base, and being blocked by Max Muncy. Muncy spent most of 2018 at first, but with the club signing AJ Pollock, this gives them a true center fielder while allowing Cody Bellinger to play his natural position of first base. Still, there is a lot that can happen, and I don’t see any change Lux breaking Spring Training with the Big League club, but if an unforeseen injury occurs, he could be the first minor leaguer called up. What can we expect from Lux? The left-handed hitter started to use his legs more, and the power increased in 2018. He’s able to get loft under the ball, and this could translate well in the Majors allowing him to hit for 20+ home runs per season. He carries great speed, and could easily be a perennial 20/20 player. An opening at the Major League level will ultimately lead to Lux getting the call. As I mentioned earlier, with Corey Seager looking to play shortstop for the foreseeable future, I truly believe Lux will be a second baseman should he reach the Majors as a Dodger.
Luis Urias – San Diego Padres
Minors: .296/.398/.447/8 HR/45 RBI
Following suit with many other second base prospects, Urias has the ability to play shortstop as well. Spending all of 2018 at Triple-A El Paso, Urias had a solid season slasing .296/.398/.447. There’s no denying Urias’ advanced approach at the plate, and the ability to hit the ball to every part of the field. His great eye has allowed him do draw desirable amounts of walks while keeping his strikeouts at bay. There’s no questioning Urias hitting will translate to the Majors, and he’s primed to open this season hitting atop the Padres batting order. With the Padres signing Ian Kinsler to a two-year deal, Urias is likely to open 2019 as the starting shortstop. With shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. shortly behind, he could easily fill the void at third base and allow the Padres to feature an infield featuring Tatis at third, Urias at shortstop, Kinsler at second, and Eric Hosmer at first.
Nick Madrigal – Chicago White Sox
Minors: .303/.353/.348/0 HR/16 RBI
Following suit with other top collegiate bats, I suspect Madrigal will move fast through the White Sox system. Their system is load from top-to-bottom, and Madrigal should help atop the order for a White Sox minor league system that features some of the best power-hitting prospects in the game. The 2018 College World Series champion is arguably one of the best college bats that came out of the 2018 draft. His plus-approach, and great speed, makes him a desirable option at second base. While he won’t carry much power (think 5-10 home runs person season with an outlier of 15 home runs), he’s going to hit for high average and steal a high number of bases. His speed, average, and on-base percentage will make him highly desirably in fantasy leagues. The potential will be there for a perennial .315-.325 average with 30+ stolen bases. Add in his Gold Glove-caliber defense, and he will make a fantastic player for the up-and-coming White Sox.
Isan Diaz – Miami Marlins
Minors: .232/.340/.399/13 HR/56 RBI
Diaz possesses great raw power to all part of the field. His plus bat speed is evident as well as his violent upper-cut swing. When you watch tape of Diaz, you automatically think of Javier Baez from the left-side of the batter’s box. A lot like Baez, Diaz has had issues with swing-and-misses as well as strikeouts. His 26.6 K% will need to be lowered, but he did show signs of patience walking at a career-best rate of 13.6%. Still, the potential is there for a solid left-handed hitting power hitter at the second base position. The Marlins aren’t going anywhere soon, and with a minor league system that needs a lot of work, Diaz should get the call at some point in 2019. Starlin Castro is the last remaining player with value, and as soon as he’s moved, Diaz should be called up. If you can stomach the strikeouts, and growing pains, Diaz could pay dividends down the road with a bat that should easily reach 25-30 home runs.
Garrett Hampson – Colorado Rockies
Minors: .311/.382/.462/10 HR/40 RBI/36 SB
It remains to be seen if Hampson will break Spring Training as the Rockies starting second baseman. They signed free agent Daniel Murphy to a two-year, $24mil deal, and at this point if Murphy’s career he’s best suited for first base. The Rockies have a decision to make, and it makes more sense shifting Ian Desmond to first, David Dahl to right, Murphy to first, and opening up second base. There will be competition between Hampson and Brendan Rodgers for the second base gig. However, the Rockies won’t be in a hurry to start Rodgers’ clock, and it makes more sense for Hampson to open the season at second base. The former Cal State Long Beach standout, owns a career-.300 average in the minors. While the power hasn’t come to fruition, there’s no doubt in my mind the 24-year old could reach 20+ home runs. He has a solid approach at the plate, and his ability to barrel balls allows for line drives, as well as base hits through the holes in the infield. Reaching 36 stoles bases this past season, there’s much to be desired in Hamspon’s speed. If he wins the job, and holds onto it all season long, there’s no reason to believe he can’t reach the 20/20 plateau in his first full season. Again, he’s never hit for power, but he’s playing his home games in Denver.
Jahmai Jones – Los Angeles Angels
Minors: .239/.337/.380/10 HR/55 RBI/24 SB
If you asked me who is the top Angel prospect I’d answer with outfield Jo Adell. If you asked me which non-pitching prospect will get the call first in 2019 I’d answer with Jahmai Jones. His athleticism and skills make him highly desirable, and you have to believe in the athleticism of a player whose brothers play in the NFL. While he’s poised to start Spring Training the minors, Jones brings a quick swing that should allow him to not only reach base, but rack up the steals. While he’s still learning to be consistent at the plate, he’s already managed a double-digit home run season before turning 21 years-old, and is coming off a third-straight season with 20+ stolen bases. What remains to be seen is where he projects in the Angels lineup. He’s not to the point where he gets on-base consistently enough to hit at the top of the order, so he’s looking to hit towards the bottom currently. What makes him even more valuable to the Angels is the fact he can play center field as well as second. Only David Fletcher and utility man Tommy LaStella are in the way over Jones’ arrival. Assuming Fletcher fizzles out, as he strikes me as nothing more than a platoon player, and LaStella stays in the utility role, we could see Jones called up early into the summer. Let’s face it, we all find ourselves hunting for stolen bases throughout the season. Jones could be the perfect addition to a fantasy lineup lacking speed.
Cavan Biggio – Toronto Blue Jays
Minors: .252/.388/.499/26 HR/99 RBI/20 SB
Let’s face it, the Blue Jays have gone the route of drafting the sons of former Major Leaguers, and two being Hall of Famers. The crazy part is, they can all play. While Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has nearly all the attention of fantasy prospects heading into this season, Biggio could reach the Majors before Guerrero Jr. With Biggo, we get one of the best plate disciplines in the minors. While his .252 average doesn’t raise eyebrows, his .388 OBP does, and this is large in part to the 100 walks he drew in 449 at-bats. While he did have a 32 K% is of concern, it’s hard to argue the discipline isn’t there with his walk total. 2018 was arguably his best season in the minors, and the fact he stole 20 bases makes his athleticism evident. The Blue Jays have had him split time at second, third, first, and both corner outfield spots. When the Blue Jays have a spot for him, he will get called up, and I have a feeling he could turn some heads with his advanced approach at the plate. Keep an eye on him, because he could be one of the sneakier prospect adds during the 2019 season.
Nick Solak – Tampa Bay Rays
Minors: .282/.384/.450/19 HR/76 RBI/21 SB
The 24 year-old Solak finds himself with more breathing room after being dealt by the Yankees. The Yankees have numerous prospects with not enough open positions with the Major League club. Fast-forward to the Rays, and Solak finds himself with a shot to finally reach the Majors in 2019. The fact he can play third base too gives him another option at the Major League level. His line-drive approach, and consistency, gives the Rays a much needed consistent bat. The power came in 2019, and if this translates to the Majors, he could be a solid middle-to-late round draft pick in years to come. While his arm is below-average, the Rays have started getting him time in the outfield which only adds to the possibility of Solak finding himself in Tampa early into the 2019 season. On paper the Rays don’t possess many fantasy options, but they are going to compete, and they are going to need to play solid defense and keep games close. When Solak does get to Tampa, I suspect he could be a solid source of runs, and if he can reach 20 home runs, he could become a viable waiver wire addition.
Nick Gordon – Minnesota Twins
Minors: .248/.298/.355/7 HR/49 RBI/ 20 SB
Now is the time for Gordon to show he’s ready for the Majors. He’s been on the list of top middle infield prospects the past few seasons, and he was primed to make his debut in 2018, but a lackluster season directly impacted him staying in the minors. He’s shown the ability to hit, but the power has never been part of his forte. Not as fast as his brother Dee, Nick has shown the ability to swipe bases, and he will need to continue doing so if he wants to be an everyday player at the next level. He’s shown the ability to continually hit line drives from the left-side of the plate, and as I previously mentioned, he does carry solid speed, and this could easily make him a 30 stolen base player. Again, he will need to hit consistently at the Major League level if he’s to be an everyday player. .273/.328/.376 doesn’t exactly jump off the page, but there is a lot to like about Gordon. He’s a solid defender, consistently makes contact, and he carries speed on the base paths. There are a few scenarios that could see Gordon reach the Majors sooner rather than later. First, Jonathan Schoop signed a one-year deal with the Twins. Obviously, injuries to a number of players could see Gordon get the call, but should Schoop catch fire, and be moved, this opens up second base for Gordon. Second, Miguel Sano has struggled mightily since he busted onto the scene in 2015. Holes in his swing have become evident, and with control through 2022, a team like San Diego could take on a project like Sano to fill a much-needed hole at third base. This would allow Minnesota to shift Schoop to third and call Gordon to play second. Again, Gordon has played both middle infield spots in the minors, but with Royce Lewis their shortstop of the future, it’s going to be second base or outfield if Gordon is to play for the Major League club.
Rookie Eligibility: No more than 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched and less than 45 days on the active MLB roster
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore on Thursday February 14th, 2019 from 8pm – 9:45pm EST for the Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show. Call in number is 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. Our topic for tonight will be the A.L. Central.
Be sure to check out our Sunday night show February 17th from 8pm to 9:30pm EST. They will cover the N.L. Central.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday February 17th, 2019 from 8-9:45pm EST for episode #138 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. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. This week we will break down the N.L. Central.