MLB

Tomorrow's All-Stars: Predicting the 10 Best Second Basemen in 5 Years

Karl BuscheckContributor IIIMay 14, 2014

Tomorrow's All-Stars: Predicting the 10 Best Second Basemen in 5 Years

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    USA TODAY Sports

    From Mookie Betts to Micah Johnson, there is an array of standout second basemen climbing the ranks in the minor leagues right now. 

    That brings us to stop No. 3 in this five-part series known as "Tomorrow's All-Stars." The following rankings will provide a rundown of which players will be the 10 best MLB second basemen in five years time and when they'll arrive in the big leagues. 

    Last week, we took a look at the future stars at first base, and the week before we examined the most promising catchers. Before the month is over, we'll do the same with third base and shortstop. 

    For now, though, here are the top 10 second basemen.

A Word on the Criteria

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    The purpose behind this series is to focus on the prospects. 

    That means you won't find Dustin Pedroia or Robinson Cano on the top 10 that follows. In fact, you won't find any players who have already made their MLB debuts, as they have been excluded from consideration. 

    Clearly, the likes of Cano and Pedroia have the potential to still be playing at an All-Star level in five years time. So, here's a rundown of active major leagues who would have been under consideration had the list included current players.

    • Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners
    • Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
    • Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians
    • Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
    • Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals

Honorable Mentions

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    Before we get started with the top 10, let's take a look at a few of the second basemen who just missed out on making the list. The honorable mentions include a number of players (as denoted by an asterisk) who either debuted recently, or who have been called up previously but who are currently in the minors.

    • Kolten Wong*, St. Louis Cardinals
    • Rougned Odor*, Texas Rangers 
    • Wilmer Flores*, New York Mets
    • Alex Guerrero*, Los Angeles Dodgers
    • Dilson Herrera, New York Mets
    • Eugenio Suarez, Detroit Tigers

10. Tommy La Stella, Atlanta Braves

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    Age: 25

    Current Minor League Level: Triple-A

    2014 Stats: .289 (37-for-128), .379 OBP, .328 SLG, 5 2B, 17 RBI

     

    The Track Record

    With a .323 average in parts of four minor league seasons, Tommy La Stella has hit at every stop in the Atlanta Braves' farm system. 

    In 2013, the second baseman batted .343 with 21 doubles in just 81 contests in Double-A. This year, the left-handed batter has a .289 average for the Braves' Triple-A affiliate. La Stella doesn't offer much power, but he has an excellent approach at the plate. In 2014, the 25-year-old has walked 19 times and struck out on just 12 occasions. 

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    La Stella's arrival could be imminent. Current Braves' second baseman Dan Uggla is hitting just .184 on the season. With the club struggling to score runs, La Stella could be just the spark that Atlanta needs. 

     

     

9. Travis Demeritte, Texas Rangers

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    Age: 19

    Current Minor League Level: Low-A

    2014 Stats: .202 (23-for-114), .287 OBP, .412 SLG, 4 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 15 RBI

     

    The Track Record

    Travis Demeritte has some serious pop.

    The 19-year-old second baseman has already connected on six home runs in his first 34 games in 2014. However, the No. 30 overall pick from the 2013 MLB draft is also hitting just .202 in Low-A. 

    Last year, the Texas Rangers' prospect hit .285 with five doubles, three triples and two home runs in his first 39 games as a professional. As a shortstop in high school, the athletic Demeritte has an excellent arm at second base.

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    Demeritte still has a lot of climbing to do before he makes his way to Arlington. The second baseman will likely spend 2015 in High-A and advance to Double-A in 2016. He could be an option in the major leagues by early 2017.

8. Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins

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    Age: 20

    Current Minor League Level: High-A

    2014 Stats: .303 (43-for-142), .380 OBP, .408 SLG, 7 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 21 RBI, 5 SB

     

    The Track Record

    Last year, Jorge Polanco crushed 32 doubles, 10 triples and 5 home runs while playing for the Minnesota Twins' Low-A affiliate.

    In 2014, the switch-hitter is off to a similar pace. Polanco is batting .303 with seven doubles and 21 RBI in his first 36 games in High-A. Polanco has demonstrated solid discipline at the plate with 18 walks and 16 strikeouts.

    The 20-year-old is currently playing shortstop in the minors. However, as John Sickels of MinorLeagueBall.com notes, Polanco is best suited for second base. 

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    Polanco is playing his way toward a midseason promotion to Double-A. The Dominican could reach Triple-A by the middle of 2015 and work his way to the major leagues by the start of the 2016 season.

    However, as you'll see later on this list, Brian Dozier isn't the only player that Polanco will need to pass up to win the second base job. 

7. Taylor Lindsey, Los Angeles Angels

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    Age: 22

    Current Minor League Level: Triple-A

    2014 Stats: .252 (41-for-163), .337 OBP, .393 SLG, 7 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 18 RBI, 4 SB

     

    The Track Record

    Since the Los Angeles Angels snagged him with the No. 37 overall selection in the 2010 draft, Taylor Lindsey has climbed steadily through the farm system. 

    In parts of five seasons in the minors, Lindsey owns a .293 average and is currently playing in Triple-A. This season, the left-handed hitter is batting .252 with seven doubles, two triples and four home runs in his first 39 contests. 

    The 6'0" second baseman has "surprising power," according to Bernie Pleskoff of MLB.com. Last year, Lindsey slugged 17 home runs and also added 22 doubles while playing in Double-A. 

    One area where Lindsey can still improve is on the field. As Pleskoff notes, Lindsey's glovework is just "adequate."

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    With Howie Kendrick in Anaheim, the Angels have no urgent need for Lindsey. Depending on how he performs during the rest of the 2014 season, he could earn a call-up this September. The second baseman should be ready to compete for a full-time job with the major league team as soon as next spring. 

     

6. Devon Travis, Detroit Tigers

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    Age: 23

    Current Minor League Level: Double-A

    2014 Stats: .143 (2-for-14), .200 OBP, .143 SLG, 1 SB

     

    The Track Record

    Selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 13th round of the 2012 draft, Devon Travis has proved to be quite the steal for the club. Last year, Travis was second in all the minor leagues with a .351 average.

    The right-handed hitter added 28 doubles and 16 home runs while splitting time between Low-A and High-A in Detroit's farm system. The second baseman also stole 22 bases. 

    In 2014, Travis has only appeared in four games as he has been sidelined with a right oblique strain, per Chris Iott of MLive.com

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    With Ian Kinsler signed through the end of the 2017 season with a team option for 2018, the Tigers have no reason to rush Travis.

    The second baseman will likely spend all of 2014 in Double-A and then move on to Triple-A at the start of the 2015 season. Following such a timeline, Travis should be ready to make the jump to Detroit by the end of 2015 or the start of 2016.

5. Wendell Rijo, Boston Red Sox

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    Age: 18

    Current Minor League Level: Low-A

    2014 Stats: .317 (33-for-104), .441 OBP, .500 SLG, 8 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 2 SB

     

    The Track Record

    Just 18 years old, Wendell Rijo is the youngest player to land a spot on this list.

    According to Baseball-Reference.com, the Dominican second baseman is 3.4 years younger than the average player in the South Atlantic League. However, that age differential hasn't stopped Rijo from enjoying all sorts of success.

    In his first 30 games, the right-handed hitter is batting .317 with eight doubles and two home runs. Rijo has also posted a .941 OPS, which is the fourth-best in the league.

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    Rijo is moving quickly through the Red Sox's farm system.

    Due to his age, the second baseman could end up spending all of 2014 in Low-A. Then again, a late-season promotion to High-A isn't out of the question considering how well he's been performing. Rijo could easily split the 2015 season between High-A and Double-A and make his major league debut by late 2016 or early 2017.

     

4. Eddie Rosario, Minnesota Twins

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    Age: 22

    Current Minor League Level: N/A

    2014 Stats: N/A

     

    The Track Record

    With a .307 average in four seasons in the minors, Eddie Rosario is a pure hitter. 

    The difficultly, however, is that Rosario currently isn't playing. Back in January, the prospect received a 50-game ban for a second positive test for a drug of abuse, according to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press.

    Last year, while splitting time between High-A and Double-A, Rosario hit .302 with 32 doubles, eight triples and 10 home runs. When his suspension is up later this month, the left-handed hitter will report to Double-A, as Berardino notes. 

    Rosario, who has also spent time in the outfield, isn't the best defender at second base. However, his bat makes him a can't-miss-prospect, even in Minnesota Twins loaded farm system. 

     

    When He'll Arrive in Big Leagues

    Depending on how he performs once he returns from his suspension, Rosario could hit his way to Triple-A by the end of the summer. The powerful Brian Dozier is currently occupying second base for the Twins, but Rosario has the kind of bat that could force Minnesota to make a difficult decision. 

     

3. Micah Johnson, Chicago White Sox

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    Age: 23

    Current Minor League Level: Triple-A

    2014 Stats: .329 (48-for-146), .414 OBP, .466 SLG, 9 2B 1 3B, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 10 SB

     

    The Track Record

    Micah Johnson has the type of speed that will make him a game-changer for the Chicago White Sox in the near future. 

    In 2013, the second baseman led all of the minor leagues with 84 steals while splitting time between three different levels. This year, Johnson is also doing quite a bit of hitting. After putting up a .329/.414/.466 slash line in Double-A, the 23-year-old earned a promotion to Triple-A, per Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    The White Sox have a crowd of players at second base with Gordon Beckham, Marcus Semien and Leury Garcia all in the mix. However, Johnson is putting up numbers that are catching the attention of the organization's decision makers.

    Buddy Bell, the club's vice president of player development, told Chuck Garfien of CSN Chicago that Johnson debuting later this season is a "realistic" option.

2. Arismendy Alcantara, Chicago Cubs

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    Age: 22

    Current Minor League Level: Triple-A

    2014 Stats: .261 (35-for-134), .279 OBP, .448 SLG, 11 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 8 SB

     

    The Track Record

    Last summer, Arismendy Alcantara earned a trip to the All-Star Futures Game, the premier showcase for all of the minor leagues. 

    The top prospect didn't disappoint. Alcantara, who stands just 5'10" launched a home run into the second deck at Citi Field. While playing in Double-A in 2013, Alcantara clubbed 36 doubles and 15 home runs. 

    This year, the switch-hitter has collected 11 doubles, four triples and a pair of home runs in his first 35 games in Triple-A. Alcantara has also swiped eight bases in nine attempts. 

    Alcantara, who has also played extensively at shortstop, has a plus arm at second base

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    Alcantara is extremely close to debuting at Wrigley Field. 

    It's worth noting, of course, that he's not the organization's top middle-infield prospect. That distinction belongs to Javier Baez. However, of the two, Alcantara is closer to being ready for the major leagues. With the ability to hit for both power and average and the speed to steal bases, Alcantara could arrive in Chicago later this sumer. 

     

1. Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox

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    Age: 21

    Current Minor League Level: Double-A

    2014 Stats: .399 (55-for-138), .462 OBP, .601 SLG, 11 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 17 SB

     

    The Track Record

    Mookie Betts is torching Double-A pitching. 

    Through his first 33 games of 2014, the second baseman is hitting .399 with 11 doubles and five home runs. The 21-year-old has also demonstrated an advanced approach at the plate. Betts has already drawn 18 walks and been punched out just 12 times. 

    On the basepaths, Betts has been highly efficient, stealing 17 bags in 20 attempts. The athletic fifth-round pick from the 2011 draft also has an impressive range at second base, as you can see in the video above. 

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    The Red Sox already have one of the top second basemen in baseball in Dustin Pedroia. Still, Betts is putting up the kind of numbers that simply can't be ignored. Betts is playing his way toward a promotion to Triple-A and should be ready for the major leagues early in 2015. 

     

    Note: All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and MILB.com. All videos courtesy of YouTube.com.

    If you want to talk baseball, find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck.

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