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Second base prospects for 2014

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Prospect Reports: Cs | 1Bs | 2Bs | 3Bs | SSs | OFs | Ps

There was a time when second base was a wasteland in the minors, when utility types like Taylor Green topped the prospect rankings just because they were the only ones with a chance of contributing in the not-too-distant future.

And after a year in which Jedd Gyorko, Anthony Rendon, Jurickson Profar and Scooter Gennett all graduated to the majors, you'd think that time would be now.

But times, they're a-changin'. Failed shortstops and relocated outfielders have given the position considerable depth, and the last generation has left this one with considerable opportunity. Of the 10 second base prospects listed here, four might actually be worth drafting in standard mixed leagues. That's unprecedented.

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Of course, for what second base offers in depth, it's lacking in upside. None of these players profiles as a future first-rounder. Still, in dynasty leagues, you shouldn't have to extend yourself to get something useful for the long haul.

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 2014. These prospects don't all profile as superstars, but they're the names most worth knowing in Fantasy right now.

1. Kolten Wong, 23, Cardinals
Where played in 2013: Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .303 BA (412 at-bats), 10 HR, 20 SB, .835 OPS, 41 BB, 60 K
Major-league stats: .153 BA (59 at-bats), 0 HR, 3 SB, 3 BB, 12 K

Taken 22nd overall in the 2011 draft, Kolten Wong's ascension to the majors in mid-August may have seemed abrupt to some, but based on the .303 batting average he put together at Triple-A, he didn't have much more to learn in the minors. Of course, given the numbers he had in the majors, you might wish he did, but keep in mind he was splitting time with David Freese, with Matt Carpenter shifting from second to third base as necessary, and may have gotten worn down playing deeper into the year than he was accustomed to doing. A high batting average is probably the one certainty for the 5-foot-9 Hawaii native, who has so far made the most of his his minimal tools, generating more power than expected for a player his size and making judicious use of his moderate foot speed. He has all the makings of another Jose Altuve, but perhaps with a little more power and a little less speed. Of course, for Fantasy owners to get anything out of it, he has to have a place to play, but if the Cardinals find a taker for David Freese this offseason, Wong will be a sleeper in all formats. He's already a must-draft in NL-only leagues.

2. Alexander Guerrero, 27, Dodgers
Where played in 2013: Did not play -- in Cuba

Looking to upgrade at second base in a way that wouldn't require them to drop $300 million on Robinson Cano, the Dodgers rolled the dice on Cuban defector Alexander Guerrero in late October, signing him to a four-year, $28 million deal. Of course, that contract probably says more about their deep pockets than their confidence in the 26-year-old. As with most Cuban defectors, the scouting reports on Guerrero are lacking in detail and subject to hunches. In a league that many talent evaluators compare to high Class A, his numbers were adequate, but not eye-popping. Agent Scott Boras has compared his power to Dan Uggla's, which may or may not be an exaggeration, but as critical as scouts have been of Guerrero's swing-at-anything approach, the similarities to Uggla may not end there. Guerrero will get every chance to win the starting job out of spring training and will probably perform well enough to justify a late-round pick in mixed leagues. Just be careful not to lump him in with fellow Cuban defector Jose Dariel Abreu. Even in a best-case scenario, the outlook isn't as rosy.

3. Rougned Odor, 20, Rangers
Where played in 2013: high Class A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: .305 BA, 11 HR, 41 2B, 32 SB, .839 OPS

Rougned Odor's name may be a familiar one to prospect hounds -- partially because once you see it, you don't forget it -- but 2013 was the first year the results began to live up to the projections. As one of just three teenage position players in the Carolina League, Odor piled on the doubles and showcased better-than-expected base-stealing ability. Then, after a promotion to Double-A Frisco, he more than doubled his home run total in only 30 games. His numbers aren't off the charts, but for how far he has climbed at such a young age, they're awfully encouraging. His well-rounded production is similar to what Jurickson Profar delivered in his abbreviated minor-league career, though Odor's stock hasn't quite reached that level yet. In terms of pure upside, he's probably the best second base prospect in baseball right now, but with the Rangers overloaded up the middle already, he's a long shot to reach the majors as more than a September call-up. Dynasty league owners should begin taking him seriously as a long-term keeper, though.

4. Jonathan Schoop, 22, Orioles
Where played in 2013: Rookie, short-season Class A, Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .278 BA (309 at-bats), 14 HR, .790 OPS, 20 BB, 62 K
Major-league stats: .286 BA (14 at-bats), 1 HR, .833 OPS, 1 BB, 2 K

Jonathan Schoop is one of those prospects who make Fantasy owners thankful for all the work scouts do. A regular schmo just looking at the minor-league numbers might not give him the time of day, but here he is on the verge of stepping in for Brian Roberts at second base. He got a quick audition for the role late last September and didn't do anything to jeopardize his chances, but his less-than-stellar minor-league numbers might give the Orioles reason for pause. Still, scouts have always liked his power, and he delivered more of it last year than first glance would have you believe. All nine of his home runs at Triple-A came on the road, which suggests he was a victim of Norfolk's spacious ballpark. He also dealt with his share of injuries, as has been the norm throughout his minor-league career. Schoop probably won't get the buzz of a Kolten Wong or Alexander Guerrero on Draft Day, but particularly if he has a starting job to himself coming out of spring training, he's a good bet to factor in mixed leagues before season's end.

5. Tommy La Stella, 25, Braves
Where played in 2013: high Class A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: .356 BA (303 at-bats), 5 HR, 22 2B, .444 OBP, .936 OPS, 45 BB, 35 K

Tommy La Stella wasn't on anybody's radar until Dan Uggla's impromptu laser eye surgery in mid-August sent everyone scrambling to the minor-league leaderboards to figure out who would take his place. And what they found at Double-A Mississippi gave them little reason to keep searching. The Braves didn't turn to La Stella then, but judging by the rumors of them looking to unload Uggla this offseason, they'll likely give him a shot this spring, especially with his OPS rivaling that of mega prospect Kris Bryant in the Arizona Fall League. A lot of that is on-base percentage -- La Stella's power isn't even in the same ballpark as Bryant's -- but it demonstrates just how thoroughly he excels in that facet of the game. Not only does he make consistent, hard contact, hitting .327 over three minor-league seasons (and none of them in especially hitter-friendly environments, mind you), but he's a walk machine. Granted, that skill set will only carry him so far in Fantasy, but seeing how Matt Carpenter has fared without big-time power or base-stealing ability, you wouldn't want to overlook La Stella, particularly in NL-only leagues.

6. Mookie Betts, 21, Red Sox
Where played in 2013: low Class A, high Class A
Minor-league stats: .314 BA, 15 HR, 36 2B, 38 SB, .923 OPS, 81 BB, 57 K

A non-entity in the Red Sox farm system in 2011 and 2012, Betts burst onto the scene as a 20-year-old getting his first taste of full-season ball in 2013, only improving after a midseason promotion to high Class A Salem. There, he hit .341 with seven homers, 20 steals and a .966 OPS in 185 at-bats, solidifying his breakthrough. He didn't improve in just one area. His batting average, home runs and stolen bases all increased, and with 81 walks to 57 strikeouts, his plate discipline was as good as it gets for a minor-leaguer. The performance was so out of left field that you have to guard against the possibility of a letdown, particularly as he makes his biggest jump yet to Double-A Portland. But if it was even halfway legitimate, Betts has a future in Fantasy. He's a must-have now in dynasty leagues because of that possibility, though with Dustin Pedroia locked up long-term, he's at least a couple years from reaching the majors.

7. Delino DeShields, 21, Astros
Where played in 2013: high Class A
Minor-league stats: .317 BA (451 at-bats), 5 HR, 100 R, 51 SB, .405 OBP, .873 OPS

After swiping 101 bags about as quietly as a player can in 2012, Delino DeShields regressed to "only" 51 in 2013. OK, so he's not Billy Hamilton, but he still projects to steal a bunch of bases in the majors. And judging by his jump in batting average with his move to high Class A, he projects to do more than just that. The problem for DeShields is he may no longer be eligible at second base by the time he gets the call. He hasn't taken to the position defensively, and the Astros just locked up Jose Altuve long-term. A move to the outfield in the Arizona Fall League offers a glimpse into DeShields' future. Granted, an elite base-stealer is still plenty valuable in the outfield, but second base is still considered the weaker position. At age 21, DeShields remains a work in progress, so you shouldn't expect to see him this year. If his pedigree as the eighth overall pick in the 2010 draft allows him to develop power in the years ahead, he'll be quite the prize in long-term keeper leagues.

8. Eddie Rosario, 22, Twins
Where played in 2013: high Class A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: .302 BA, 10 HR, 32 2B, 10 SB, .810 OPS

The Twins transitioned Eddie Rosario from center field to second base in 2012 in part because they felt they had a need there long-term. But with Brian Dozier's emergence in 2013, the Twins can afford to take it slow with the 22-year-old. In long-term keeper leagues, it's probably for the best. Rosario held his own after a midseason promotion to Double-A New Britain but still hasn't demonstrated the full extent of potential. He won't ever rank among the league leaders in home runs or stolen bases, but he'll contribute a fair number of both -- and with a high batting average to boot. Comparing him to Martin Prado might seem to be shortchanging his upside in some ways, but if that's the kind of player he ends up being, he'll have been well worth the investment. Just don't count on him getting more than a September call-up in 2014.

9. Micah Johnson, 23, White Sox
Where played in 2013: low Class A, high Class A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: .312 BA, 7 HR, 24 2B, 15 3B, 84 SB, .824 OPS, 50 BB, 98 K

The White Sox knew they had a burner in Micah Johnson when they landed him in the ninth round of the 2012 draft, and in that regard, he didn't disappoint in his first full professional season, leading all minor-leaguers with 84 stolen bases. But his performance at the plate earned him a spot on this list. Granted, most of his .312 batting average came at low Class A. He hit .272 in 232 at-bats at his next two stops up the ladder. But the White Sox pushed him pretty hard for as little experience as he has. One reason could be that they're looking to remake their middle infield sooner than later, with both Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham rumored to be on the move, but even a midseason promotion might be out of Johnson's reach. Regardless of his progress at the plate, he has some work to do defensively, with some scouts believing a move to the outfield is inevitable. Wherever he winds up, Johnson should provide plenty of steals as long as he hits enough to stay in the lineup. Unless he makes headlines this spring, though, he should probably go undrafted in single-season leagues.

10. Devon Travis, 23, Tigers
Where played in 2013: low Class A, high Class A
Minor-league stats: .351 BA, 16 HR, 22 SB, .936 OPS, 53 BB, 64 K

Like the Red Sox's Mookie Betts, Devon Travis went from being a nobody to a legitimate prospect with his performance in 2013, hitting better than .350 in both of his stops in the minors. He didn't run as much as Betts, though, and the scouts seem to be a little more skeptical of his power. The big test for him will be the jump to Double-A this year, which -- other than the majors, of course -- is the level that most often exposes overachievers. Given his lack of pedigree, you have to remain skeptical in your assessment of Travis until he establishes some sort of track record, but if he continues down this path, he's the Tigers' second baseman of the future. And depending how quickly he takes to Double-A, that future could come sooner than later, especially if Omar Infante signs elsewhere. Travis isn't to the point where you should draft him in AL-only leagues, but he's a player to monitor in those deeper formats.

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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Player News
Braves sign pitcher Eric Stults to minor-league deal
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:49 pm ET) The Braves announced Thursday they signed pitcher Eric Stults to a minor-league deal, per MLB.com. He also was invited to spring training.

The 35-year-old Stults went 8-17 with a 4.30 ERA in 32 starts last season for the Padres. He is 4-2 with a 4.26 ERA in four career outings (two starts) at Turner Field.


Red Sox's Daniel Nava agrees to $1.85M salary to avoid arbitration
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:43 pm ET) The Red Sox announced Thursday they agreed to terms with outfielder Daniel Nava, avoiding arbitration. Nava's 2015 salary will be $1.85 million, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Nava is in his first year of arbitration. He made $556,500 in 2014.


Rockies SP prospect Tyler Anderson will be limited at start of camp
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:39 pm ET) The Rockies announced Thursday starting pitcher prospect Tyler Anderson will not be ready to pitch when spring camp opens Feb. 21, per The Denver Post.

"We are taking our time with this and we think it's best to take a conservative approach," trainer Keith Dugger said. "He will participate in camp, but he won't pitch. He'll take part in PFP (pitchers' fielding practice) and other activities. We think the prognosis is good for the long term."

Anderson had his season end in the Double-A playoffs last season due to elbow soreness. General manager Jeff Bridich said in December that Anderson's rehabilitation was going well and said it was "conceivable" he would be in the mix for a roster spot this spring. However, his slow recovery from the elbow injury could hinder his chances of making the opening day roster.

Anderson had a great year in 2014 before getting hurt. He went 7-4 with a 1.98 ERA in 23 starts for Double-A Tulsa. The 2011 first-round pick is 23-10 with a 2.39 ERA in 59 minor-league starts.

"We are going to do what's best for Tyler's long-term future with our club," Bridich said of having no specific timetable for Anderson.


Twins OF Torii Hunter plans to mentor Aaron Hicks, Byron Buxton
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:38 pm ET) Twins veteran right fielder Torii Hunter said one of his goals this season will be to mentor outfielder Aaron Hicks and top outfield prospect Byron Buxton, per MLB.com.

"I know Hicks can play, but with Buxton -- I haven't seen video or seen him play, but every word I hear is good about him," Hunter said. "I definitely think when we get to spring training we'll sit down and I'll work out with them and evaluate what they're doing right and what they're doing wrong."

Hicks said he will lean on Hunter this spring, as he competes with Jordan Schafer for the starting job in center field.

"I'll be all in his ear the whole time," Hicks said. "He might get annoyed I'll be in his ear so much. He's definitely a guy I'm going to go to.

"I believe that I have the ability to play center field here for a long time. I've just got to go out there and show people that I can be the center fielder that everybody wants me to be and also that I want myself to be."


Latest MRI on Jurickson Profar's shoulder comes back clean
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:43 pm ET) The latest MRI on Rangers second baseman Jurickson Profar’s shoulder appears to show the shoulder is healing properly and Profar can increase his workload, reports FOXSports.com/southwest

Profar has been throwing from 60 feet, but will begin throwing from 75 feet starting next week. He'll also begin taking dry swings from the right side.


Free-agent pitcher Brandon Beachy delays contract decision
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:31 pm ET) Free-agent pitcher Brandon Beachy has decided to delay his decision on which team he'll pitch for in 2015, his agent told FOXSports.com.

The former Braves pitcher is recovery from Tommy John surgery and wants to wait until closer to spring training before making his decision. Beachy did not pitch in 2014 because of the injury.


Nationals' Jayson Werth pleads guilty, sentenced to 5 days in jail
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:24 pm ET) Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth will serve five days in jail after pleading guilty to reckless driving, reports The Washington Post.

Werth was pulled over in July by Virginia State Police after driving 105 mph in a 55 mph zone and Werth did not necessarily disagree with the assessment.

"It's possible I exceeded 90 miles per hour," Werth said in court.

Werth was initially convicted of reckless driving Dec. 5, but appealed the verdict. He was originally sentenced to 10 days in jail, but it was reduced to five after Werth's guilty plea.

The prosecutor said Werth will turn himself in Friday and begin serving his sentence, according to NBC4's Northern Virginia Bureau. 


White Sox DFA Dayan Viciedo to see if any trade interest remains
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:07 am ET) White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said putting outfielder Dayan Viciedo on waivers could be the final step to trading him, which is something the team has explored all offseason. Viciedo was designated for assignment Wednesday, which means Chicago has 10 days to trade, release or outright him to the minors.

"It got to the point where Dayan didn’t very likely fit on this club in a meaningful way for 2015,"  Hahn said, per CSNChicago.com. "The thought with designating him was flesh out any interest over the next 10 days or so and find him a better home going into the next season."

Viciedo, who will turn 26 years old on March 10, has hit more than 20 homers in two of the last three seasons. But he has yet to reach his full potential, batting just .254 with a .424 slugging percentage in five MLB seasons. 

The White Sox seem OK if they deal Viciedo and he finally reaches his full potential with another team.

"He's still young and he still has a world of talent and a great deal of power that we’ve all seen on display over a number of years," Hahn said. "It's not going to surprise any of us in the least if he goes on to have a very successful career elsewhere."


Reds' Price 'realistically' targets Mesoraco to catch 145 games
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:54 am ET) Reds manager Bryan Price indicated catcher Devin Mesoraco could see a lot more time behind the plate in 2015, per the Dayton Daily News. He appeared in 114 games in 2014, starting 109 at catcher.

“I’ve been asked that question a lot about Mesoraco playing first base,” Price said. “How much would he play? Only if (Joey) Votto was injured. Realistically, I see him as a Yadier Moilina-type guy, who is going to catch 145 games a year, more so than I see him catching 110 a year and playing 20 or 30 at first base.

“It stood out more last year because I linked up Johnny Cueto with (Brayan) Pena catching. I anticipate Mesoraco catching a lot more games this year, especially if he stays healthy. We won’t pair Pena with Cueto as much. Devin did a real nice job with Johnny the times he caught him.”


Report: Blue Jays making a push to sign Ronald Belisario
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:32 am ET) The Blue Jays are making a push to sign reliever Ronald Belisario, according to FoxSports.com.

The 32-year-old Belisario posted a 5.56 ERA over 66 1/3 innings with the White Sox last season. While his performance looks spotty on the surface, Belisario managed to cut his walk rate by three percent last season. He had awful luck with men on base, which may have contributed to his struggles. Belisario actually posted a 3.54 FIP, so there's a chance at a possible rebound. 

The Blue Jays have been linked to a number of free-agent relievers, including Rafael Soriano, Francisco Rodriguez and Burke Badenhop. 


 
 
 
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