Cincinnati has Jonathan India currently playing second base at the big league level. The 2021 National League Rookie of the Year battled injuries throughout the 2022 season and had a sophomore slump. Still, the front office is almost assuredly counting on him to be a part of the team’s future. India, though, could potentially move back to third base for the Reds if needed (either for reasons directly involving his health, abilities, etc. or because there’s another option for second base but not for third).

In the post-trade deadline Reds Top 25 Prospect list only one player was on the list and was a guy who spent a majority of their time at second base this season. There were several others who did see action at second base in a decent amount of their time that we’re going to consider both here at second base as well as other spots in future versions of this series.

We’re going to start with the lone player listed as a second baseman on the Top 25 prospect list at the post-trade deadline point. Carlos Jorge spent his entire season with the Arizona Complex League Reds in 2022. Jorge had a big year in 2021 in the Dominican Summer League, and while he didn’t quite match that this past season he was among the best hitters in the league. As an 18-year-old this season he hit .261/.405/.529 with 16 extra-base hits, 27 steals, 25 walks, and 41 strikeouts in 42 games played. He led the league in steals by a wide margin – no one else topped 16 in the league. It’s a long way to the big leagues from complex ball, but Jorge has passed the test at both levels he’s played at with flying colors.

Victor Acosta was acquired by Cincinnati at the trade deadline from San Diego in the Brandon Drury trade. He was one of the Padres big international signings in 2021, signing for $1,800,000. After arriving in the Reds organization he only played in one game out of nine at second base, but with the Padres he played in nine other games there (he started 30 games this season at shortstop).

The 18-year-old spent his season in the complex league out in Arizona, playing in 32 games with the Padres team and then 10 more with the Reds after the trade deadline. Between the two stops he hit .237/.348/.360 with 21 walks and 37 strikeouts in 165 plate appearances. A slow start really kept his numbers down. In the first 13 games he posted a .542 OPS while hitting just .150. Over the next two months he hit .282/.380/.408. He’s got plenty of tools to work with, but he’s still very young and like Jorge – it’s a long way from the complex leagues to the big leagues.

Moving up the ladder you get to Tyler Callihan. He has been ranked in the Top 25 in the past, but the bat has been more solid than carrying and the bat is what has been the selling card. The infielder injured his wrist near the end of spring training (and also missed the final four months of 2021 after tearing his UCL) and missed the first six weeks of the season before joining Daytona. With the Single-A Tortugas he hit .282/.336/.419 in 32 games before being moved up to High-A Dayton. After joining the Dragons he struggled to get his bat going and hit just .232/.297/.384 as his strikeout rate almost doubled.

Jose Torres split time between second and shortstop this season. He’s a guy who should be able to play shortstop long term, but also a guy who is behind several guys on the shortstop depth chart. He began the year swinging a hot bat, but cooled off in the middle of the summer before a good August. In the full season with High-A Dayton he hit .234/.287/.378 with 26 steals in 30 attempts. He’s going to need to find more consistency with his bat, but all of the pieces are there.

Another guy who saw limited action at second base while playing more time at another spot is Nick Quintana. Acquired from Detroit in the Tucker Barnhart trade, Quintana played 27 games at second base and another 76 at third base between his stops in Dayton and Chattanooga. The 2nd round pick from 2019 had struggled at the plate since being drafted, but he showed life in Dayton where he hit .257/.372/.421 with the Dragons in the first half. When he moved up to Double-A Chattanooga his plate discipline remained solid, but his hitting numbers dropped off as he hit just .233/.344/.355 in 53 games. It wound up being the best season of his career as he hit .245/.358/.387 for a career best .745 OPS.

Ivan Johnson didn’t join Chattanooga until the end of May after recovering from a broken hamate bone that he suffered in spring training. He struggled to start his season, hitting just .179 in the first 21 games he played. Over the next 29 games he hit .310/.339/.487, but his final game of the season was that 29th game was the final game he played as Johnson then went to the injured list for the remaining five weeks of the season with a shoulder strain. In his 50 games with the Lookouts he hit .261/.325/.428. He struggled with making contact, striking out 66 times in 197 plate appearances. That will be the biggest area he’ll need to improve on going forward.

Francisco Urbaez also spent plenty of time playing second base in Chattanooga this year. He began the season there and after a slow start in April where he put up a .641 OPS, he hit ,292/.362/.478 over the next 31 games. But that would be the end of the season for the infielder as he hit the injured list on July 6th when he tore the meniscus in his left knee.

After spending the first half of the season playing shortstop, Matt McLain began to play some second base in the second half with Chattanooga after Elly De La Cruz was promoted to join the team. By the time the season ended he had played 23 games at second to go along with getting 74 games of time at shortstop. At the plate he walked a lot, drawing 70 free passes in 103 games, and he showed off good power as he had 21 doubles, 5 triples, and 17 home runs. McLain also stole 27 bases in 30 attempts. But he struggled to hit for average, posting a .232/.363/.453 line. He’s likely going to need to hit for a higher average, but the underlying skills are there for that to happen.

Spencer Steer played a little bit of everywhere on the infield in 2022. Acquired from the Twins at the trade deadline, Steer played in 26 games at second base in the minors and another five in the big leagues late in the season. But he also played 20 or more games at shortstop and third base, as well as a baker’s dozen at first base. Steer played in both Double-A and Triple-A this season in the minors. He was better at the Double-A level where he posted a .976 OPS while still in the Twins organization. In his 71 games at the Triple-A level between the two organizations he hit .259/.354/.479. He showed more power with the Twins Triple-A team, but hit for a higher average after joining Louisville. In his 28 games with Cincinnati in the big leagues he hit.211/.306/.326.


There is certainly a whole lot of depth and potential future options for second base. More than a few of those options haven’t been playing second base as their main position, but have gotten some time there. While only Carlos Jorge was among the Top 25 prospects as a second baseman, he was just four guys who got some time at the position were in the Top 25.


While many of these guys spoken of in his piece are playing multiple positions, there are guys getting semi-consistent playing time. There’s a lot of depth that can cover second base, including multiple Top 25 guys, multiple Top 10 guys, and the depth is spread out from rookie ball up through the Major Leagues.

We’re going to give this position an A-. The only thing keeping it from being an A is that there isn’t a guy who feels like a sure-fire starter among this group. There are a few guys among this group that could certainly become every day players, but no one really separated themselves into that upper echelon level of prospect with very few questions on their resume.

Second Basemen Stats

You can see all of the State of the Farm series here.

17 Responses

  1. SultanofSwaff

    With a ban on shifting imminent, athleticism will be important again. Doug, who would you say has the most range here?

  2. Matt

    Quintana and Johnson are both intriguing cases for rule 5 protection. I’m not making calls for the Reds (which is definitely probably a good thing), but I think I’d lean towards neither. I think I’d take Quintana over Johnson, because of contact rate.

    As you said, not necessarily as a starter, but I could see all these dudes carving a path to the bigs in some capacity. McLain and Steer probably have the best chance to be a starter, but Jorge could make a case with a solid first year of full season ball.

    Of those names, McLain and Steer will probably see MLB time in 23. The rest would have to have a crazy good start, or the rebuild would have to be awfully dreadful.

    • BK

      I agree. The risk that they would stick with a team for the entirety of the 2023 season is low.

  3. LDS

    Kirby’s tweet from a couple of days ago: “I’m really starting to think it’s going to shake out: Marte (3B), Elly (SS) and McLain (2B)…..and oh boy, that infield is going to be electric on both sides of the ball.”

    He may be on to something there. How India bounces back this year is a story to watch.

  4. Doc

    I wish I’d had teachers who grade this leniently. Talk about grading on a curve! If SS is an A to A+ in this organization, then 2B is at best a C. There is not one single player who stands out in the group, and the group as a whole were average or worse offensively, with the exception of a couple of AZ complex players, and I certainly would not place much stock in complex level players when grading a position for the entire organization. In a properly applied grading scale, rare anymore, the definition of a C is average.

    • Doug Gray

      I think you’d be hard pressed to find many organizations that have anything near this kind of depth at the position, especially considering the fact that guys that played shortstop all year like Elly De La Cruz and Noelvi Marte didn’t even get included in this conversation (and could have been if I really wanted to).

      There’s both big time depth as well as plenty of upside (Steer’s a Top 100 prospect, McLain’s got plenty of upside, both Jorge and Acosta have plenty of above-average to plus tools and are still just 18 years old).

      I think your perspective is simply off.

  5. MK

    With all the middle and overall infield talent on the horizon, I can see India, like #14 before him, move to left field. To me this clears the way for McLain at second base. My 2024 defensive line-up is: Stephenson-c, Encarnacion-Strand- 1b, McLain- 2b, de la Cruz- ss, Steer-3b, India-lf, Barrero-cf, Fraley-rf

    • RedsKoolAidDrinker

      I’d go with Mike Siani in center before Barrero if we’re talking a defensive-first lineup, and right now if we’re talking offense, too, bc there is offense in Barrero’s game.

  6. MBS

    If India is no longer the 2B for 24, I’m putting my money on McLain. 1st rounder, SS by trade so his range should be there, and he’ll hopefully be ready by 24.

    If the scenario of Marte 3B, EDLC SS, and McLain 2B happens our infield will be very strong, but the OF doesn’t get to inherit any of our SS talent. Maybe Steer and India end up on the corners with Siani up the middle, and Fraley, or Friedl floating as the 4th.

  7. Michael B. Green

    Trade Farmer or India (likely the former). The remaining player (Inida is cheaper) is the 3B at the MLB level but could get pushed by Marte if they don’t shine.

    While Elly is playing some 2B in the winter league, and McLain is playing SS in the AZFL, I expect McLain to eventually become the MLB 2B, unless Johnson does something big in Spring Training.

  8. DaveCT

    “The only thing keeping it from being an A is that there isn’t a guy who feels like a sure-fire starter among this group.”

    I did raise an eyebrow on this comment, as this group includes Matt McLain. Meaning, McLain isn’t a sure fire starter. And I couldn’t agree more.

    First, is McLain going to bump India off of 2B? I’d say not very likely at all.

    Second, I’ve been watching the comments on McLain since the start of his pro career. One that stood out was that, side by side, Ivan Johnson was more athletic than McLain. And I’ve seen other references of a limited athleticism, though with very good skills

    Next, as a sidebar to the question of athleticism is McLain’s draft profile — that, as part of a serious baseball family, with resources for training, his floor of present skills outshone others. But how does that play going forward.

    Last, I’ll need to see McLain correct his flaw of selling out strikeouts for power. If this means he struck out more to learn to hit power, and can revert to prior contact, I’ll be good with that. However, if not, he’s looking more like a utility guy for me.

    • Optimist

      Here’s my comment from the Marte HR thread, where McLain was labelled a draft bust and Doug disagreed.

      “Not only that, McLain doesn’t look like a mistake at all. He meets all the analytic standards, and may just be 1/2 season of AAA away if his bat gets to .260-.270.

      India’s last two years in MiLB look very similar to McLain. India had the notable and unreported advance performance at Prasco; McLain needs to duplicate that in AAA and up he goes.

      A better question might be where he stands on the SS depth chart right now?”

      For a defensively skilled MI, why would you trade plate discipline for power?

      Sure, all those in MiLB could end up as Dilson Herrera, but they also all look like India so far, except EDLC – HOF potential with a hole in his swing. The others are one step or level away from solid MLB production. For most of them, the step is 1/2 season, or less, in AAA.

      • DaveCT

        I don’t consider MCLain a bust. I think he’s got the ML’s in his future, though on a current, lesser trajectory than as a sure starter. And as a 17th overall pick that’s still not bad. Like India, this can change, and I hope and half expect does.

        I totally agree on the Jndia comp, especially in view of the volume of ‘draft bust’ talk. For one, his numbers compared very favorably with other players in the same league. Second, his college history didn’t take off until his third year. So I figured it may take him to improve at the pro level.

        The SS rating will be interesting. I’m guessing Sir Doug does 3B first to make us wait … but if I had to take an educated guess, I’d say MCLain is probably third behind EDLC and Marte, considering both offense and defense. I’ve left Barrero out of this equation as he’s probably somewhat of an incumbent. The young guys coming out of complex ball sort of have to wait to be rated as high as the big three for a more true comp. And, in between, we have Arroyo and the others (Faltine, Steiger, etc) that we likely need to learn more about before being very accurate in a projection.

        Let the Hunger Games begin!!!

      • DaveCT

        As for the question why would a MI sell out contact for power, the critiques of MCLain after 2021 were that he needed to increase power. So it made sense that he’d try and learn to get to it more, and that he’d use a year in the minors to do that.

    • Doug Gray

      To be fair, a guy being blocked doesn’t make them a non-sure-fire starter. That’s just a way of saying this guy would be a starting caliber every day guy. Being able to bump India to another spot isn’t a question I’m trying to answer here – just more so that if the spot were available could a guy be an average or better every day big leaguer at the spot and is there a very high likelihood of that happening?

  9. Optimist

    IIRC most consider EDLC the #1 SS prospect, simply due to having the highest ceiling, and possibility of playing SS – always keep the best there until they show they cannot play the position. After that I’d guess it’s a tie between Acosta, Arroyo, Marte, McLain and Barrero – a good problem to have.

  10. Fanman

    Not opposed to EDLC potentially switching positions. Although, him staying at SS would make defense incredibly strong up the middle
    That being said, only Cf and Rf..2b and 3b would be limiting his abilities on defense..Utilize his speed and athleticism!!