MLB Pipeline will reveal its 2022 Top 100 Prospects list on Friday, with a one-hour show on MLB Network and MLB.com on Saturday at 11 a.m. ET. Leading up to the release of the Top 100, we'll examine baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.
Once upon a time, it was hard to find true prospects at second base. Typically, they were shortstops who couldn’t handle the premium position at the higher levels. And while there are still several amateur shortstops who have moved to the right side, there are some legitimate top prospects on this year’s Top 10 second basemen list.
And several of them have played second base for quite some time, with top prospect Nick Gonzales, Justin Foscue and 2021 draftees Tyler Black and Connor Norby having played the keystone in college. Others, like Michael Busch and Nolan Gorman, were corner infielders previously, providing more thump for the position.
Of the eight draftees on this year’s list, all were taken in the top 50 picks, with five taken in the first round. Ezequiel Duran and Otto Lopez are the international representatives, both coming from relatively humble beginnings and signing for small bonuses.
The Top 10 (ETA)
1. Nick Gonzales, Pirates (2022)
2. Nolan Gorman, Cardinals (2022)
3. Nick Yorke, Red Sox (2023)
4. Michael Busch, Dodgers (2022)
5. Ezequiel Duran, Rangers (2023)
6. Justin Foscue, Rangers (2023)
7. Xavier Edwards, Rays (2022)
8. Otto Lopez, Blue Jays (2022)
9. Tyler Black, Brewers (2024)
10. Connor Norby, Orioles (2024)
Complete list »
Hitter: Gonzales, Yorke, Edwards (65)
Some think Gonzales is at least a 70-grade hitter, and he certainly showed it in the second half of the 2021 season and in the Arizona Fall League, displaying his elite bat speed, quick hands and strong exit velocities. Yorke started slowly in 2021, hitting .195 and striking out in 23 percent of his plate appearances in the first month, then hit .361 with a 14 percent strikeout rate the rest of the way, with an extremely advanced all-fields approach. Edwards’ lack of pop leads some to worry about the impact of his bat, but it’s hard to argue with a guy who has hit .320 with a .390 on-base percentage in his pro career.
Power: Gorman (60)
Gorman’s raw power has been well-known since his high school days in Arizona and was a big reason why the Cardinals took him in the first round of the 2018 Draft. Though he’s been pushed aggressively for his age, it’s shown up, with 17 homers and a .570 slugging percentage during a summer pro debut in ’18 that saw him reach full-season ball. He hit 15 more dingers in 2019 across two levels of A ball, and then 25 a year ago, leading to a career .481 slugging percentage heading into this year.
Runner: Edwards (70)
He hits, gets on base and runs. Even though Edwards' stolen-base totals and success rate took a hit in 2021 (19-for-30), he still has close to top-of-the-scale speed and has swiped 75 bases in 247 Minor League games to date.
Arm: Gorman (60)
Gorman has more than enough arm for the left side of the infield -- it’s plus and he can make all the throws from the hot corner, so second base won’t be any kind of issue from a throwing perspective.
Field: Edwards (55)
Edwards has played a good amount of shortstop in the past, and his quickness plays well defensively. He has quick feet and while his arm is just OK, he gets rid of the ball in a hurry to make all the plays.
Highest ceiling: Yorke
A surprise first-rounder who was hard to scout because shoulder surgery limited him to being a DH during his senior year of high school, Yorke showed the Red Sox were onto something when they took him 17th overall in 2020, hitting .324/.412/.516 across two levels of A ball. He’ll be just 20 for all of the 2022 season, and he might have more offensive upside than even Boston realized.
Highest floor: Gonzales
You could make the case Gonzales could be the pick for both ceiling and floor with his right-handed bat potential. There’s little doubt he’s going to hit and there could be more power than some predicted, but even if that doesn’t happen, he’s going to hit for average and get on base enough to be a solid big league regular.
Rookie of the Year candidate: Gorman
After hitting 25 homers between Double- and Triple-A in 2021, Gorman is just about ready to impact the big league lineup. Sure, Tommy Edman won a Gold Glove at second base last year in St. Louis, but who doesn’t think the Cardinals would be better with Edman moving around the diamond and Gorman’s power in the lineup?
Highest riser: Duran
A year ago at this time, Duran was No. 15 on the Yankees list, an interesting player who had yet to reach full-season ball. He was hitting very well in High-A with the Yankees when he was traded to the Rangers in the Joey Gallo deal, then impressed in the Arizona Fall League to put him more firmly on the prospect map.
Humblest beginning: Duran
He’s now on the Rangers’ 40-man roster after that strong AFL performance, but Duran started almost as an after-thought. He could have signed back in 2015, but issues with the registration process caused a delay, and he didn’t sign until July 2017, when he got just $10,000 to do so.
Most to prove: Gorman
Obviously, the belief is he’s going to prove it since he’s the ROY candidate choice, but there have been concerns in the past about Gorman’s ability to hit enough to get to his prodigious raw power, though there were encouraging signs on that front in Triple-A last year. A bigger question is about Gorman’s defense and whether the infielder, known as a third baseman as an amateur and in the early parts of his pro career, can handle the Nolan Arenado-necessitated move to second.
Keep an eye on: James Triantos, Cubs
A pop-up prospect from the Virginia high school ranks in last year’s Draft class, Triantos hit his way into the second round and signed for an above-slot $2.1 million with the Cubs. The early returns certainly were good, as he hit .327/.376/.594 in 25 Arizona Complex League games during his pro debut. A shortstop in high school, he’s likely destined for second base at this level.