With the continuation of the positional prospect overviews, I’ve taken a look at the second basemen within the organization. One major thing to note is the lack of potential at the position, as only one or two prospects may actually have a shot at reaching the majors at some point in a depth role. Typically, the position would be considered a weakness for the team, but the fact that many minor league shortstops can switch over to the role makes it easier on teams to carry more talent at another position and adjust their positions as players progress. Because of this, the list of “Others to Note” is key, because that is probably where the Orlando Arcia’s future double-play partner will come from. Nonetheless, a few of these players have some interesting potential despite their youth or lack of experience.
SECOND BASEMEN: 9 (13)
AZL: Julio Mendez (2B/3B/SS)
Helena: Franly Mallen (2B/SS)
Wisconsin: Tucker Neuhaus, Jonathan Oquendo (2B/3B)
Carolina: Blake Allemand (2B/3B/SS), Trey York
Biloxi: Javier Betancourt (2B/SS/3B), Chris McFarland
Colorado Springs: Nate Orf (2B/3B)
Others to Note: Isan Diaz (Low-A, SS/2B), Eric Sogard (Triple-A, 2B/UTIL, Non-Prospect), Wendell Rijo (Double-A, SS/2B), Mauricio Dubon (Double-A, SS/INF)
TOP FIVE NAMES:
1) Franly Mallen (Rookie League Helena): At only age 19, the 6’1″, 160-pound middle infielder has been pushed aggressively in his first three seasons with the Brewers – moving stateside halfway through his 2015 season at 18. Even with those very aggressive promotions, the right-handed hitter continued to succeed in 2016 – hitting .279/.317/.391 in 190 plate appearances in Helena last season. He’s still relatively small, but has plenty of room to bulk up as a hitter to further tap into his slight power potential to pair with his contact abilities (14 of his 50 hits were for extra bases). Originally a shortstop in the Dominican Republic, the organization has moved him to second base almost exclusively. He has a long ways to go, but Mallen has succeeded in the aggressive call-ups thus far – making the chances of reaching the abstract projection of a major league regular that more concrete.
2) Nate Orf (Triple-A): While we can all hope and dream of Mallen’s ascent through the farm system, Orf’s career has already experienced the rigors of the professional path. Though he’s only 5’9″, the undrafted right-handed hitter boasts offensive consistency similar to 1B Garrett Cooper (Orf’s career line = .288/.366/.383 hitter in 1761 PA). The 26-year old bounced from Double-A to Triple-A last season, but ultimately found more success in Colorado Springs – hitting .288/.366/.383 with 19 doubles in 381 PA. His meager 11.7% K-Rate is something to note, as his walk-rates (9.4% in 2016) have always been just a couple of ticks apart (if not better – a true rarity). Pair his contact rates with on-base skills and an ability to play nearly everywhere in the field and we’re left with Orf looking more and more like the first guy called-up if an injury happens in the infield. He’s intriguing as a prospect, but the ceiling is quite uncertain at this point beyond the “organizational depth” classification many put him as.
3) Trey York (High-A): A 9th round selection in the 2016 draft, York’s 2017 season will be the first extended look we get from him. Despite being older than most of his competition (22) in the second half, the 6’2″ righty hit well in his first 233 plate appearances (.289/.393/.407) split between Rookie-League Arizona and High-A Brevard County. What was even more impressive was the 17 extra-base hits (14 2B) in the small chunk of time, showing the gap power potential he displayed in college. His bat as a whole has been noted to generate more power than the typical second basemen, and his above-average speed is another highlight (15 stolen bases in 16 attempts). His main knock is just the lack of at-bats, so his 2017 campaign will be important for his projections in the majors.
4) Blake Allemand (High-A): While not a high-ceiling prospect, the 23-year old has slowly chugged along in the system. Drafted in the 5th round in 2015, the 5’10”, 170-pound switch hitter did well in his first taste of the majors (.290/.340/.357 in 322 PA). But 2016 gave him new challenges when he reached High-A, and his numbers took a hit (.238/.311/.317, 88 wRC+ in 298 PA). He won’t hit for much power, but has been known for having a decent eye at the plate. Anything beyond farm system depth may be a stretch for him, but a successful season with his first major test could prove that wrong.
5) Javier Betancourt (Double-A): Acquired alongside C Manny Pina in the Fransisco Rodriguez trade, Betancourt’s value has sunk in the last year. Always lauded as a defensive-first player, the nephew of former infielder Edgardo Alfonzo hit a meager .224/.285/.321 in 383 plate appearances, and upped his strikeout-rate to 16.4%. On the plus-side, the 21-year old’s walk-rates increased (7.6%, highest in his career), and his BABIP (.257) may indicate that he didn’t hit as poorly as initially believed. Defensively, he shined the most at second base despite also playing shortstop and third base. But in order to have a chance at a higher level, he’ll have to find a way to hit more – something that could happen in 2017 if he continues to make contact. If he can, it’s possible to see him as defensive depth behind the likes of Arcia, Villar, and the bevy of highly-touted shortstop prospects.
Tucker Neuhaus (Low-A): Selected in the Competitive Balance Round (B) in the 2013 draft, Neuhaus struggled to stay on the field in 2016. Touted as a player with average to above-average offerings in nearly every scouting category, he still has to prove himself as a 21-year old in Low-A. Out the majority of the season with a broken finger, Neuhaus played in Australia this offseason, hitting .263/306/.343 in 137 at-bats (11 doubles). The left-handed hitter boasts extra-base power at the least with added potential, as well as solid running capabilities. He might slot over to third base due to his strong arm and athletic build (6’3″, 190 lbs), but we’ll need to see a full season from him before we can really say much about where he currently is.
Jonathan Oquendo (Low-A): The Puerto Rican draftee entered the organization in 2014 and improved his stock since then. The 6’3″, 170 pound switch hitter has put on over 30 pounds since being drafted in the 14th round, and has looked to improve upon his offensive game alongside his solid defensive abilities. He did well in 2016 – hitting .264/.348/.286 in 165 PA split between Rookie-League Helena and Low-A Wisconsin, but lacks power potential. His walk-rate (6.6%) and K-Rate (26%) in just 76 plate appearances at Low-A was a big drop in his usual numbers, so look for the 20-year old to make some adjustments to match the major test in front of him.
Chris McFarland (Double-A): The 23-year old McFarland has been with the Crew since 2011 (drafted in the 18th round), and finally made it to Double-A in 2016. He’s taken his lumps at every new challenge, but has appeared to overcome them in time. The 6’0″ infielder hits for a little pop and has some speed, but the gap power has toned down at the higher levels (only 33 extra base hits 192 total hits in 2015-2016).
Julio Mendez (Arizona Rookie League): Mendez still has a long way to go as a prospect, though he’s only 20 years of age. Just three years into his professional career and he’s reached Rookie-League Arizona at age 19. At 5’10, 140 lbs, he doesn’t post much in terms of power and hit .231/.316/.308 in just 119 plate appearances in 2016. His best tools appear to be both in decent plate discipline (7.6% walk-rate) and his versatility in the field – playing shortstop and third base as well. As for right now, he appears to be prospect filler, but could improve as he gets older.
NOTE: Feature photo courtesy of James Ridle of BMGphotos.com