Prospect Watch: Top 10 second basemen
MLBPipeline.com's 2014 Top 100 Prospects list will be unveiled on Thursday on MLB.com, as well as on a one-hour show on MLB Network, airing at 10 p.m. ET. Leading up to that, MLBPipeline.com takes a look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.
Last year's top second-base prospect, Jedd Gyorko, graduated to the Major Leagues, clearing the path for Kolten Wong to take over the top spot. He is one of three holdovers from last year's Top 10, while seven newcomers have joined their ranks.
1. Kolten Wong, Cardinals: An advanced hitter coming out of Hawaii in 2011, Wong made quick work of the Minor Leagues. He made his big league debut in 2013 and earned a spot on the Cards' World Series roster. Wong has solid all-around tools, and his quick swing allows him to make consistent, hard contact to all fields. He is just about ready to take over a full-time spot in St. Louis' lineup.
2. Rougned Odor, Rangers: One of Texas' burgeoning group of young middle infielders, Odor reached Double-A Frisco in 2013 as a 19-year-old. The Rangers have pushed him aggressively throughout his professional career, but he has always answered the challenge. Odor has a sound approach at the plate and has solid power. He is a capable defender with soft hands and a good arm.
3. Mookie Betts, Red Sox: One of the breakout stars of 2013, Betts was one of nine Minor Leaguers to hit at least 15 home runs and steal 30 bases. His breakout was sparked by a better approach at the plate and improved pop in his bat. While Betts' power surge was new, his speed was not. He is a plus runner, which translates into good range at second base.
4. Arismendy Alcantara, Cubs: Long a favorite of scouts, Alcantara's impressive raw tools finally came together in 2013 and earned him a spot in the SiriusXM Futures Game. He is athletic and has a short, compact swing from both sides of the plate. Alcantara has above-average speed and knows how to use it on the basepaths. He has played shortstop and second base, but his tools are best-suited for second.
grading the prospects
5. Devon Travis, Tigers: A 13th-round pick in 2012, Travis was one of the biggest surprises in his Draft class. He finished second in the Minor Leagues with a .351 batting average and third with 177 hits in '13. Travis has an advanced approach at the plate and plus speed. His overall tools aren't the flashiest, but he could develop into an everyday player in the Major Leagues.
6. Jonathan Schoop, Orioles: Like Andrelton Simmons and Jurickson Profar, Schoop is a talented middle infielder from Curacao, and he joined them on the Dutch team at the World Baseball Classic last year. Schoop is an aggressive hitter and produces solid power. He is a versatile infielder, but has settled in at second base. Schoop's tools are good enough to soon make him an everyday player in the Major Leagues.
7. Taylor Lindsey, Angels: A consistent performer at every level of the Minor Leagues, Lindsey has proven to be a heady, all-around performer. He is an aggressive hitter and has an unorthodox swing, but he still has a knack for putting the bat on the ball. Lindsey is a solid defender and has a reputation for getting the most out of his tools.
8. Eddie Rosario, Twins: The Puerto Rican native represented the island at the World Baseball Classic in 2013. Rosario has a smooth swing and quick wrists, allowing him to make consistent contact. He will begin the 2014 season serving a 50-game suspension for his second positive test for a drug of abuse. Still, Rosario's all-around game makes him a solid prospect going forward.
9. Micah Johnson, White Sox: The speedy Indiana product led the Minor Leagues in stolen bases in 2013 with 84. Johnson's speed grades out at the top of the scale, and his offensive game is built around it. He has the tools to be a solid second baseman, but still has work to do defensively.
10. Wilmer Flores, Mets: The Venezuelan native made his Major League debut on his 22nd birthday in 2013. Flores has a knack for putting his bat on the ball and has begun to realize his power potential. Though he played almost exclusively at third base during his brief time in New York, he profiles best at second base and is nearly ready for a full-time spot in the big leagues.
High school second basemen usually aren't well regarded as prospects, but Gosuke Katoh proved to be the exception last spring. He was the Yankees' second-round pick and then finished second in the Gulf Coast League with a .522 slugging percentage during his professional debut. Katoh has a compact swing and uses his speed to his advantage. He is an excellent defender, and his makeup and understanding of the game could make him a quick study in the Minor Leagues.
Tommy La Stella has hit everywhere the Braves have sent him in the Minor Leagues since they drafted him in the eighth round in 2011. As Dan Uggla has struggled in Atlanta, La Stella has emerged as a possibility to become the Braves' second baseman of the future. His solid all-around tools could soon earn him a role in the Major Leagues.