Second Base is a really, really difficult position to rank. Many prospects at this position are Second or bust guys. In other words, they either succeed at Second or they never make the majors. Players who don’t stick at Third sometimes make the shift to First (Pujols, Miggy, etc.) or to the Outfield (Alex Gordon); Catchers can make the shift to First (Mauer, our own Tommy Joseph) or the Outfield (Werth, Schwarber, Harper - though that was more expediency than lack of skill). Players typically end up at Second because they don’t have the arm for Third, the range for Short, the bat for First or the feel for Outfield routes (though some guys do successfully make that shift).
This often means that, like First Base, Second Base prospects have to look pretty sure fire to get ranked highly, since even bench roles can be tough if they can’t play a passable Shortstop and hit with some decent reliability. Fortunately the Phillies have at least one prospect who can get ranked fairly high on lists. Beyond him, there are an unusually deep combination of utility skills, solid bats and good speed in the pipeline. I can’t say for certain there’s a star in here, but there do look to be a few players who could find solid contributing roles to a winning club.
Scott Kingery: A+ = .293/.360/.411, 3 HR, 12.9%K, 7.9% BB, AA = .250/.273/.333, 2 HR, 21.7% K, 3.0% BB, AFL = .234/.294/.312, 1 HR, 20.5% K, 8.0% BB
The samples in AA and Arizona are pretty small, but I certainly hope the K rate comes down with more time at the AA level. Kingery generally gets good reviews for both his Defense (where he’s newer to the position than you remember from watching him) and his bat. While he’s not a future Silver Slugger candidate, he bring substantially more pop than our current MLB Second Baseman and certainly enough to keep Pitchers honest. He may see a solid uptick in Homers next year in Reading over a full season, but he should be more of a solid Doubles hitter than a big Home Run power hitter. I tend to think of Mickey Morandini when I think of Kingery. Not a star, but a very solid Second Baseman, sans alliteration.
2. Jesmuel Valentin: AA = .276/.346/.399, 5 HR, 14.4% K, 9.8% BB, AAA = .248/.325/.381, 4 HR, 19.5% K, 9.8% BB
I’m going to write a lot of the same stuff I wrote about Kingery here. That says a lot about Velentin’s season. After missing much of last year for off-field issues, Valentin kind of became a forgotten man in the system. The tools still aren’t eye popping, but he’s hit fairly reliably up the ladder and his Defense is solid at Second. He can also passably play the left side of the infield, opening him up to utility man roles if his bat proves to be not every-day good at Second. I expect Valentin will get a chance to compete for Second in Spring Training, but barring a trade, he’ll start the year in AAA since with Blanco there’s no current role for him on the Phillies. When Kingery gets promoted to AAA, I expect Valentin will get some games around the diamond a bit to accommodate him.
3. Joshua Tobias: A = .304/.375/.444, 7 HR, 14.2% K, 7.5% BB, A+ = .254/.324/.357, 2 HR, 20.5% K, 8.2% BB
Again, a late season call up makes the higher level stats a bit sketchy to really read anything into. Tobias may be the weirdest of the weird guys at this position. His defense probably falls into the hot mess bucket per most reports, but dude just keeps hitting. Sure he’s playing at a level where he’s older than most players, but he can’t control that. Unless his defense makes sudden, lightspeed improvement Tobias won’t be an everyday Second Baseman. However, if he can hit reliably there may be a bench role for him as a Left Field, 3rd Base (where he played in College) and Second Base sub. It’s hard not to route for the guy to hit his way to the Majors in some role.
4. Daniel Brito: R = .284/.355/.421, 2 HR, 12.6% K, 9.8% BB
Brito is about as far away as you can get. He just turned 18 and this was his first year playing in the States (GCL, specifically). He can hit and should become a capable fielder, but his build is, well, he looks a lot like Carlos Tocci did at that age (though, like Tommy Joseph he carries the skill of looking quite a bit older than he actually is). Brito’s not likely to ever hit for much power, but he should have respectable power when he adds weight. The delta on outcomes for Brito is really large but he has all the tools to become a good everyday Second Baseman for the Phillies, provided you’re willing to wait 5 or 6 years.
5. Raul Rivas: R = .240/..280/..250, 0 HR, 13.6% K, 2.8% BB
Rivas is a 20 year old who hit .240 in a league full of 17 and 18 year olds. He’s here because we’ve been ranking 5 players per position and alliteration is not a teachable skill. In short the system is short at Second.