Second Base Prospects: An Iffy Proposition?
Last week, a long time reader emailed me about a trade proposal he received. Because of a lack of middle infield prospects in his dynasty league’s minor league system, the owner was about to pull the trigger and deal Braves Julio Teheran for Rangers Rougned Odor and Cubs Arismendy Alcantara.
Adding two of the game’s better second base prospects does fill the middle infield void — to a point. Not adding a shortstop in the package makes the trade difficult to be content with. After all, shortstop is the most important position to fill in Major League baseball or fantasy baseball.
But just how difficult is it to find a shortstop of the future in dynasty baseball? Is it that much harder than second base?
In seeing a couple of hundred of minor league baseball games over the past five years, I can go months without seeing a legitimate shortstop prospect. In general, organizations let prospects play themselves off of the most difficult defensive position meaning many players who have no business playing there often do.
Off the top of my head, I scouted Wilmer Flores (2B/3B), Edward Salcedo (3B), Rosell Herrera (3B), Arismendy Alcantara (2B) among other “shortstop” prospects who had no real business playing the position.
Even Jurickson Profar is now manning the keystone for the Rangers as the former #1 prospect in all of baseball.
In general, shortstops at the lower levels don’t end up staying at the position. Those players push second base prospects further down the defensive spectrum — to the outfield for example.
Take Alcantara’s situation in Chicago. Starlin Castro is the incumbent shortstop who was one of the better young players in baseball until last season. Double-A prospect Javier Baez is in the conversation for best power hitting prospect in the game and is also a shortstop. Plus, second overall pick Kris Bryant is a third baseman and should be in Chicago sometime in 2014. Where does this leave Alcantara? He’s probably the odd man out.
Shortstops with enough defense to stick stay unless the Major League incumbent is an even better defender. If the glove falls short, then the shortstop slides over to second at some point becoming an above average to plus defender at the position. For a second base prospect to stick, the bat has to play at an extremely high level. High enough to offset his being a lesser defender.
Interestingly enough, college second base prospects like Dustin Pedroia, Chase Utley, Jason Kipnis and Jed Gyorko have had quite a bit of success. Yes, I know Kipnis played OF and Gyorko was a college SS, but both were mentioned as second base options at draft time. In general, college shortstops don’t have the defensive chops to stick at the position.
My rosters are filled with shortstop prospects knowing at least half will move off of the position at some point. Plus, Major League second baseman are often undervalued as auction money is shifted to the shortstop position. Drafting or trading for second base prospects in dynasty leagues results in a very low return on investment.
4 Feb 2014 / Mike Newman /
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