Potential Breakout, Red Flag Second Base Prospects Entering 2019
As part of our 2019 position rankings, BA staffers are picking one breakout prospect and one prospect they are concerned about at every position. Today, we go over second base prospects.
Click here to see the complete 2019 second base prospect rankings.
Breakout: Luis Santana, Astros
I loved the Astros picking up Santana from the Mets in the J.D. Davis trade this month. He fits a classic mold of players who tend to get overlooked. He's a smaller guy, no loud tools, not a flashy athlete . . . but he hits. It's an aggressive swing with great hand-eye coordination to make frequent contact while controlling the strike zone. He's walked more than he's struck out the last two years, including last year in an aggressive assignment to the Rookie-level Appalachian League when he was 18 and hit .348/.446/.471.
Red Flag: Eli White, Rangers
The A’s may have sold high on White. He had his best season yet—a .306/.380/.450 campaign in Double-A Midland—but he’s going to be 25 this year (the same age as Rougned Odor), his power is below-average and he’s a solid but not great contact hitter. A lot of things would have to break right for him to be an everyday regular.
Breakout: Vidal Brujan, Rays.
Teams often use second base as a spot to put fringe defenders with quality bats. Brujan has the quality bat, but he also has excellent athleticism that would play well in center field, and perhaps even shortstop, as well. Brujan gets on base, runs the bases extremely well and puts together a high percentage of quality at-bats. He could climb this list significantly in the next year.
Red Flag: Nick Madrigal, White Sox.
Madrigal is an excellent hitter, and he has a chance to be a plus defender. But he needs to show he can drive the ball consistently for at least doubles and the occasional home run. He didn't show that in his pro debut. That can partly be explained away by his spring wrist injury, but his lack of power with a wood bat stretches back long before that injury. He needs to show he can pull the ball with authority when the situation demands it.
Breakout: Tucupita Marcano, Padres
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. led all teenagers playing in the U.S. in batting (.381) last year. Marcano (.366) was second. The wiry lefty has a compact swing and feel for the barrel unmatched in the lower levels of the minor leagues, and he already showed the ability to drive mid-90s offerings from higher level pitchers in the Don Welke On Deck Classic at Petco Park. He needs to continue to add strength, but his swing, elite strike-zone discipline and underrated athleticism make for a foundation as promising as any middle infielder in the low minors.
Red Flag: Isan Diaz, Marlins
Diaz is a good athlete and really solid fielder and he deserves credit for reaching Triple-A by age 22. At the same time, since his breakout 20-home run season in low Class A in 2016, he's hit .222 and .232 with sub .750 OPS's the last two seasons while drawing increasingly lukewarm reviews. His power and speed are more solid than exceptional, and combined with questionable bat-to-ball skills, he's tracking more as a future utilityman than an a first-division, everyday second baseman.