You can read all of the articles in this series by clicking here.
Another week in the books and we move to another spot on the infield in the 2015 State of the Farm series. Today we will look at second base throughout the system. Right now the Cincinnati Reds second base position is locked up by Brandon Phillips, but he’s been the talk of trade rumors for years now and with the Reds looking at rebuilding for 2016, the spot could be opened up sooner than the end of his current contract.
At the top level the Reds had several veteran players manning second base for the Louisville Bats. In Double-A they had Ryan Wright get a majority of the playing time. Wright started 78 games there for the Blue Wahoos. The 25-year-old hit .285/.366/.377 through the first two months of the season, but things changed quickly after that, including a month on the disabled list. From June through the end of the season he hit .209/.245/.288 to finish the season at .254/.313/.339. The nice start tailed off and led to a below-average offensive season.
Later in the season Alex Blandino came up from Daytona and began to split some time between second base and shortstop for Pensacola. Nearly everyone expects to see Blandino eventually make the full switch over to second base before he reached the big leagues, so he’s being included here rather than with the shortstops even though he spent more time at short this season. After leading the Florida State League in OPS through 80 games the infielder was promoted to Double-A Pensacola for the final 30 games of the year. Overall he would hit .278/.364/.420 with 37 extra-base hits, 49 walks and 77 strikeouts in 480 plate appearances.
Ty Washington began the year in Dayton and was hitting .292/.353/.415 with 10 walks and 20 strikeouts on May 16th, but he then hit the disabled list for nearly two months before returning to the Dragons lineup. After two weeks he was promoted to Daytona where he spent the final month of the season. He struggled some with the Tortugas, hitting .197/.300/.262 in the final 18 games of his season.
Down in Billings two guys were splitting the time at second base. Shane Mardirosian and Hector Vargas split the time there with Mardirosian getting a larger percentage of the playing time. After starting out 0-10 on the season with five strikeouts, the 19-year-old Mardirosian would go on to hit .317/.369/.462 the rest of the way with 12 steals, 10 walks and 30 strikeouts in 163 plate appearances.
20-year-old Hector Vargas got out to a slow start, going 4-25 (.160) in his first eight games of the season, but like Mardirosian, he really turned things around quickly. Over the final 44 games of the season he would hit .317/.323/.441. He had just two walks in 170 plate appearances in that span, a rate that must improve, but he had a very high rate of contact as well as he struck out just 12 times.
In Arizona second base was mostly manned by 19-year-old Francis Azcona. He made 28 starts at the position for the Reds, getting three starts between shortstop and designated hitter. Overall he would hit .266/.341/.329, but it was really a story of two halves. In his first 14 games he would hit just .212/.297/.212 in 37 plate appearances. Over the final 17 games he played he went on to hit .304/.373/.413.
In the full season leagues there seem to be more potential utility players than possible future starting players with Alex Blandino standing out at the top. Blandino gives the position a true top 10 caliber prospect and the depth at the position isn’t bad as there are several guys who have the makings of future big leaguers if they continue to develop even if they aren’t necessarily starters. In rookie ball the three players mentioned all showed a little bit of something at the plate during the season. The depth is there, but with only one guy standing out as a higher end prospect right now the overall grade isn’t going to be too high either.
Top Second Basemen Tools
The hitting tools weren’t much of a consideration. Alex Blandino was an easy pick for both, especially in the power category where he may be the only guy with true double-digit home run power. Several guys are above-average runners at second base, but Mardirosian is a plus runner. Defensively was tough. I have seen very limited action of the guys in rookie ball, but I’ve heard enough good things about Hector Vargas that I felt comfortable giving him the nod defensively.