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Highlighting top 2B prospects for 2013

Senior Fantasy Writer
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If first base is the ultimate safety net for hitters who can't hack it elsewhere on the diamond, second base is the island of misfit toys.

Prospects don't usually start out there. Extenuating circumstances force them there. Maybe they don't have quite enough range to stick at shortstop. Maybe they have too much competition in the outfield. If they're too athletic to confine to first base (or, in some cases, too unproductive to succeed there), second base is the perfect alternative.

So as you might expect, the position is pretty thin in minor-league talent. The lower levels don't have much to offer because they haven't identified their misfits yet.

Still, it's been worse. The second base position did get a rare infusion of talent in the 2011 draft with first-rounders Kolten Wong and Cory Spangenberg, and those two remain in the minors today. You can argue whether or not they lived up to expectations last year (particularly Spangenberg), but seeing as they're first-round picks just beginning their professional careers, you can't argue their prospect status. Though they weren't drafted as second basemen, Delino DeShields and Eddie Rosario transitioned to the position early in their careers, which also improves the depth here.

Otherwise, you have to dig pretty deep to find Fantasy-relevant talent at second base. And while players three and four years away from contributing may have some appeal in long-term keeper leagues, they're practically irrelevant in seasonal formats.

Note: This list has been adjusted for Fantasy purposes. Though long-term potential is a factor, it's arguably less important than the player's expected role in 2013. These prospects don't all profile as superstars, but they're the names most worth knowing in Fantasy right now.

1. Jurickson Profar, 20, Rangers
Where played in 2012: Double-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .281 BA, 14 HR, 16 SBs, .820 OPS, 66 BBs, 79 Ks
Major-league stats: .176 BA (17 at-bats), 1 HR, 0 BBs, 4 Ks

Let's get the talent part of the discussion out of the way first: Profar is a stud. His numbers may not slap you in the face, but that's because he was a teenager facing players three and four years older than him as he shot up the minor-league ladder. He has it all: power, speed, contact rate, batting eye. Remember when Hanley Ramirez was first breaking into the majors? Profar deserves that same type of fervor. Sooner or later, he'll be a first-round pick in Fantasy, especially if he stays at shortstop. But that's the biggest question for him entering this season: Where will he play, and how much? Right now, he's a second baseman in Fantasy because that's where he played most during his September trial last year, but his role is up in the air. Will the Rangers use him as a super utility player who fills in wherever they can find a spot for him over the course of the season? That wouldn't be the best thing for his Fantasy value. Will they move Ian Kinsler to the outfield, clearing second base for him? Will they trade Elvis Andrus and begin the Profar era at shortstop? Any of those scenarios is plausible. Profar is worth a late-round flier in mixed leagues in the hope he gets full-time at-bats, but at this stage of his career, his greatest value is in long-term keeper leagues.

2. Kolten Wong, 22, Cardinals
Where played in 2012: Double-A
Minor-league stats: .287 BA, 9 HR, 21 SB, .754 OPS, 44 BBs, 74 Ks

By the end of the 2013 season, Wong will likely be the Cardinals' starting second baseman. They drafted him for that purpose, and they've certainly left the door open by filling the position with a textbook stopgap option in light-hitting Daniel Descalso. Of course, in order to justify the switch, Wong will have to prove he's not a light hitter himself. The returns from his first full professional season were a little underwhelming. He'll have to hit for more pop to meet the Cardinals' lofty expectations. The good news is he did hit over .300 for much of the season before slumping late. As long as he maintains a high contact rate, the power will likely come as he fills out. Will enough of it come for him to make a worthwhile Fantasy contribution this season? Hard to say. He's worth stashing in deeper NL-only formats just in case, though. And obviously, he's a must-own in long-term keeper leagues.

3. Delino DeShields, 20, Astros
Where played in 2012: Class A
Minor-league stats: .287 BA, 12 HR, 101 SB, .389 OBP, .818 OPS

DeShields is a prime example of why you shouldn't judge a high school draft pick too quickly. He was the eighth overall selection in the 2010 draft, yet the prospect hounds were all ready to bury him when he hit only .220 for Class A Lexington in 2011 ... because, you know, breaking into profession baseball at age 18 is such an easy thing to do. He didn't need long to shut them up, going from being an overmatched free-swinger to a disciplined extra-base machine in the span of one year. And the speed ... goodness gracious, the speed. He stole 101 bases, for gosh sakes. The only reason he's not America's favorite young speedster right now is because Billy Hamilton stole 155. Clearly, DeShields offers the potential you'd expect for an eighth overall pick, so long-term keeper owners, get excited. Unfortunately, since he's only 20 and still playing in Class A, you have to figure he's a couple years from making a Fantasy impact.

4. Eddie Rosario, 21, Twins
Where played in 2012: Rookie, Class A
Minor-league stats: .299 BA, 13 HR, 11 SB, .846 OPS

If you want a comparable for Rosario, look no further than Jason Kipnis. Like Kipnis, Rosario began his professional career as an outfielder, but like Kipnis, his organization decided his bat profiled better at second base. Like Kipnis, he quickly proved proficient enough at his new position to make it his long-term home, and so like Kipnis, he's now an intriguing Fantasy prospect. Like Kipnis, he probably won't hit 30 or even 25 home runs in his prime, but like Kipnis, when you factor in his high contact rate, keen batting eye and moderate base-stealing ability, his pop is more than enough for a middle infielder. Rosario only recently moved to second base and is still a few levels from reaching the big leagues, so you shouldn't expect him to factor in 2013. But given his well-rounded offensive potential at a historically weak position, he's a player long-term keeper league owners will be glad to have for the long haul ... like Kipnis.

5. Jonathan Schoop, 21, Orioles
Where played in 2012: Double-A
Minor-league stats: .245 BA, 14 HR, .710 OPS, 50 BBs, 103 Ks

Schoop's top prospect status is still rooted more in projection than production, so he's entering the put-up-or-shut-up stage of his career at age 21. Or maybe he still has another year or two to go. Considering the Orioles just gave him a full season at Double-A, though, you have to admit they seem pretty anxious to get him to the big leagues. Second base is their greatest area of need, after all. And Schoop has the potential to provide something few second basemen can: legitimate home run power. But again, it's rooted more in projection than production. Mechanical flaws and poor pitch recognition have prevented him from tapping into it so far. Chances are if he's able to correct those shortcomings -- which he may never do -- it won't happen quickly enough for him to make a Fantasy impact in 2013. A late-season call-up wouldn't be unreasonable even with another so-so performance, but is that enough incentive for you to stash Schoop outside of long-term keeper leagues? Probably not.

6. Cory Spangenberg, 22, Padres
Where played in 2012: Class A
Minor-league stats: .271 BA, 1 HR, 27 SB, .324 OBP, .675 OPS

So far, Spangenberg is the biggest disappointment of the 2011 draft. Picks 1-9 have all more or less met expectations so far, but when you get to Spangenberg at No. 10, you can't help but wonder what the Padres were thinking. He has no power -- this much we know -- so in order to make a big impact, he has to hit like crazy, walk like crazy and run like crazy. He delivered in only one of those three areas last year: the running like crazy, which is only so useful when he's not getting on base. It's not like he's some kid straight of high school who has years and years to figure it out either. He'll be 22 by opening day. He might not get any better than this. But you know what? He plays second base, and that's reason enough for him to stay on the radar in Fantasy. If he's able to work his way into the Padres' starting lineup, however many bases he steals will be enough to make him relevant, even if not elite. It probably won't happen this year -- in fact, fellow prospect Jedd Gyorko (a natural third baseman) has the inside track on the starting second base job -- but you might not want to give up on Spangenberg in long-term keeper leagues just yet.

7. Rougned Odor, 19, Rangers
Where played in 2012: Class A
Minor-league stats: .259 BA, 10 HR, 19 SB, .714 OPS, 25 BBs, 65 Ks

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If you noticed a foul stench when you drove through Hickory, N.C., sometime last summer, rest assured it wasn't Odor, second baseman for the local Crawdads, who affirmed his top prospect status by contributing double-digit home runs and stolen bases in his first full professional stench. He still has some rough edges to smooth out, but considering he'll barely be 19 by the start of the 2013 season, his performance in 2012 was commendable. In fact, the expectations for him have escalated to the point that you can now consider him the Rangers' second baseman of the future. The future may be a distant one -- perhaps even 2015 or 2016 -- but the future always comes. If you're in a deep enough keeper league that investing in a player that far from reaching the big leagues makes some measure of sense, here's hoping Odor adds a little muscle to his frame in the meantime.

8. Scooter Gennett, 22, Brewers
Where played in 2012: Double-A
Minor-league stats: .293 BA, 5 HR, 11 SB, .714 OPS

Every scouting report you read on Gennett says something to the effect of "gee, this guy really knows how to hit." But so far, that ability has translated to nothing more than a .300ish batting average -- no power or especially high on base-percentage, just a bunch of singles and doubles. That's probably not enough to earn him a starting job in the majors, especially when the player he's trying to unseat is Rickie Weeks. Granted, the Brewers may not be able to pay Weeks forever, but at age 22, Gennett is nearing the point where he needs to make an impression if he's going to factor into the Brewers' long-term plans. A bunch of singles and doubles won't cut it. If an infielder goes down for the Brewers and Taylor Green is otherwise indisposed, Gennett is certainly a candidate to fill in, but he likely won't get enough at-bats to make a relevant Fantasy impact in 2013.

9. Angelo Gumbs, 20, Yankees
Where played in 2012: Class A
Minor-league stats: .272 BA (257 at-bats), 7 HR, 26 SB, .752 OPS

Gumbs is a prospect for Fantasy owners who like to gamble on the unknown. He has yet to escape the lower levels of the minors, and the numbers he's produced there aren't exactly magical. But he has the one attribute that trumps all others when assessing offensive talent: bat speed. All of the scouting reports make reference to it. Bat speed is what made Gary Sheffield who he was, Jose Bautista who he is and Javier Baez who he's going to be. Now, Gumbs' chances of meeting those players' lofty standards are virtually nonexistent, but with a little refinement of his raw tools and faulty swing, he could contribute surprising power numbers for a middle infielder. Or he could flame out in the upper levels of the minors and never make so much as a peep in Fantasy. Again, he's not a prospect who should be on everyone's radar, but if you have a roster spot to play with in a dynasty league, he's one who might slip through the cracks.

10. Brock Holt, 24, Pirates
Where played in 2012: Double-A, Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .344 BA, 3 HR, 16 SB, .859 OPS, 49 BBs, 60 Ks
Major-league stats: .292 BA (65 at-bats), 0 HR, .682 OPS, 4 BBs, 14 Ks

If all goes planned for the Pirates in 2013, Holt won't get a chance to play regularly. But rarely does all go as planned over a 162-game schedule. The only reason Holt is worth noting here in the first place is because something didn't go as planned at the end of 2012. Starting second baseman Neil Walker hurt his back and ended up missing most of September. In his absence, Holt proved he was as capable of hitting for average in the majors as he was in the minors, where he compiled a .317 batting average over four seasons. Because he offers little in the way of power or speed, he's unlikely to force his way into the starting lineup, but if Walker goes down again or double-play partner Clint Barmes takes a tumble of his own, Holt could step in with numbers similar to what Freddy Sanchez used to contribute for the Pirates. He's no top prospect, but he's a player to keep in the back of your mind in NL-only leagues.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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