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Best long-term 2B: Albies, Madrigal or Urias?

October 18, 2018

I'm writing this with one eye on an Arizona Fall League game between the Glendale Desert Dogs and the Scottsdale Scorpions, and the other on Game Four of the American League Championship Series, so let's get straight to your questions . . .

I'm writing this with one eye on an Arizona Fall League game between the Glendale Desert Dogs and the Scottsdale Scorpions, and the other on Game Four of the American League Championship Series, so let's get straight to your questions . . .

There are a lot of interesting short young second basemen these days. Albies hit 24 homers in his first full season in the big leagues with the Braves this year. Urias (Padres), Keston Hiura (Brewers) and Madrigal (White Sox) are MLB Pipeline's top three second-base prospects.
I'll take Albies among that group because he has the best power/speed combination and is the best defender. He's also capable of handling shortstop if needed. For more on this question, check out the video at the top of this column.

Jonathan Mayo gave his take on a slightly different version of this question in last week's MLB Pipeline Inbox. My answer to this one is that Astros right-hander J.B. Bukasukas should make the biggest leap next year among AFL players not on our Top 100 Prospects list. He hit 98 mph while striking out five and permitting just an unearned run in 3 1/3 innings in his first Fall League start last Thursday.
The 15th overall pick in the 2017 Draft out of North Carolina, Bukauskas endured an odd first full year in pro ball. A Spring Training auto accident led to back problems which resulted in him making just three appearances in the first three months of the season. When he returned, he showed a fastball and slider that are plus-plus pitches at their best and recorded a 2.14 ERA with 71 strikeouts in 59 innings at five levels.
Now that he's healthy, Bukauskas could advance rapidly. It's still uncertain whether he'll be a starter or reliever in the long run, but if he can harness his impressive stuff he should make an impact in either role.
Among AFL position players, White Sox outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe should make the biggest move into the Top 100 in 2019. And speaking of the switch-hitting center fielder with 20-20 potential . . .

Seven outfielders rank among the top 14 prospects on MLB Pipeline's White Sox Top 30: Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Blake Rutherford, Basabe, Micker Adolfo, Steele Walker and Luis Gonzalez. Jimenez, the system's top prospect and No. 3 on our Top 100, is a lock to man one of the corners, likely left field. He should arrive early in 2019 and settle into the third spot in Chicago's lineup for years.
I like Basabe second-best among all these outfielders because he can do a little of everything, offers the best combination of ceiling and floor and might be the best all-around defender among them as well. Let's stick him in center field.
Based on their rankings, Robert is the front-runner for right field, though Adolfo fits the profile there so well and will push him if he can stay healthy. Rutherford, Walker and Gonzalez are talented as well, so it will be interesting to watch how the White Sox outfield shakes out.

Left-handers are one of the strengths of the Orioles system. D.L. Hall, a 2017 first-round pick out of a Georgia high school, is their top southpaw. Besides Keegan Akin (who's not a finesse guy and can reach 96 mph), Zac Lowther and Alex Wells, Baltimore also has hopes for Cameron Bishop, Luis Gonzalez, Drew Rom and John Means.
Besides Hall, the lefty who intrigues me the most is Lowther, a 2017 supplemental second-round pick from Xavier. His fastball sits around 90 mph, but hitters have trouble catching up to it because he hides and commands it well and he gets terrific extension in his delivery. His changeup and curveball aren't plus pitches but they're effective, and he excels at missing bats.
Lowther led the Cape Cod League in strikeouts (54), strikeout rate (13.6 per nine innings) and K/BB ratio (13.5) in the summer of 2016, then set the Xavier single-season whiff record with 123 the following spring. Since turning pro, he has posted a 2.02 ERA with 226 strikeouts in 178 innings and a .191 opponent average.

Left-handers are one of the strengths of the O's system. D.L. Hall, a 2017 first-round pick out of a Georgia high school, is their top southpaw. Besides Keegan Akin (who's not a finesse guy and can reach 96 mph), Zac Lowther and Alex Wells, Baltimore also has hopes for Cameron Bishop, Luis Gonzalez, Drew Rom and John Means.
Besides Hall, the lefty who intrigues me the most is Lowther, a 2017 supplemental second-round pick from Xavier. His fastball sits around 90 mph, but hitters have trouble catching up to it because he hides and commands it well, and he gets terrific extension in his delivery. His changeup and curveball aren't plus pitches but they're effective, and he excels at missing bats.
Lowther led the Cape Cod League in strikeouts (54), strikeout rate (13.6 per nine innings) and K/BB ratio (13.5) in the summer of 2016, then set the Xavier single-season whiff record with 123 the following spring. Since turning pro, he has posted a 2.02 ERA with 226 strikeouts in 178 innings and a .191 opponent average.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.