Today, Minor League Ball continues its look at the positional breakdown of prospects that should make their debut in 2019. Before we get started with the second basemen, be sure to get caught up on the first base prospects highlighted.
- 5 first base prospects who should debut in 2019 (9/27/2018)
Several of the top second base prospects made their debuts at the end of 2018. Luis Urias of the Padres and Brandon Lowe of the Rays for example got their chance, while the Rockies’ Garrett Hampson made his big league debut, possibly auditioning to take over for D.J. LeMehieu should he leave via free agency.
Nick Madrigal presents a curious case. The fourth overall pick of the 2018 MLB Draft was considered by many the best pure hitter available. He showed that quickly in his pro debut, advancing to High-A before the season ended. If anyone could be a fast-riser at second, its Madrigal, but its more likely he splits the year between Double-A and Triple-A before making his 2020 debut.
Here are some that you can expect to see in 2019.
Keston Hiura, Milwaukee Brewers
There was never a question in Hiura’s bat. A pure hitter, the 22-year-old right-handed hitter led the NCAA with a .442 average when he was drafted. The question was where he would play after not fielding a single ball in his final 2017 collegiate season while recovering from an elbow injury.
(video from FanGraphs)
Hiura has not played anything else but second base in his professional career, so if there are still thoughts of Hiura better suited for the outfield, it’s clearly not the Brewers that are having them. He’s athletic and has good feet, but he isn’t fast, so his range would be much more limited in a corner outfield position than at second. His arm plays fine at the position.
He split the season between the Carolina and Southern League, compiling a .293/.357/.464 slash line and an .821 OPS. He can spray the ball to all fields and while he has over-the-fence pop, he’ll probably be more dangerous finding the gaps. He doesn’t seem to have any glaring concerns in his righty-lefty splits, so there should be enough confidence in his hit-tool at the next level.
The question is when he’ll get the chance. The Brewers brought in several pieces at the deadline that have made an infield logjam in Milwaukee. It may take a few months at Triple-A, but if Hiura’s bat continues to play, he’ll see some big league at bats sooner than later.
Cavan Biggio, Toronto Blue Jays
Biggio is in a good position with the winds of change blowing through Toronto. He will have a new skipper with the release of John Gibbons, which may help accelerate the bevy of top end prospects near-ready for their big league debut. The 23-year-old left-handed bat also diversified his resume this season, playing 68 games at second, 34 at third and two in the outfield. If Biggio keeps slugging, it seems like he may at least have a shot at a utility, bench role as soon as 2019.
(video from Blue Jays Prospects)
The 2018 season was a tremendous breakout for Biggio. He posted an .887 OPS behind 23 doubles and 26 home runs. Always known for his ability to draw free passes, Biggio walked an astounding 100 times to help offset his 148 strikeouts. For the past two seasons, the Notre Dame product showed he can handle both lefty and righty pitching reasonably well. He is more contact driven off lefties while his power clearly stems off feasting on righties.
Biggio is a wild card, having yet to prove the breakout was for real above Double-A. But with a new regime in Toronto, he may have every opportunity to show it in the bigs.
Nick Solak, Tampa Bay Rays
Solak sneaks in as a technicality. Joey Wendle had a very nice Rays debut season and is under contract for what seems an eternity. Brandon Lowe earned his big-league call up this season, and showed signs that the power translates at the next level, albeit in a very small sample size. So how the heck does Solak compete with that?
(Video from 2080 Baseball)
Like Biggio, the 23-year-old right-hander also expanded his positional portfolio, playing 40 games in left and 18 in center. Solak is quick and a smart defender, so the simple point is while I think he sees a few big league at bats in 2019, it’s no certainty it will be as a second baseman.
Solak is a professional hitter, able to spray the ball around the field, drive it into the gaps, and walk at a very high rate (there should be very little complaints about a .390 career OBP). People keep questioning his power, but it has steadily increased each season, so it may be time to believe he is quite capable of 15-20 home runs in a season. Though he may not get the chance at second base, his versatility may afford him some big league time in 2019 with any injury at the big league level.
Isan Diaz, Miami Marlins
Diaz has been well-traveled in his young professional career, one of the featured pieces in two high-profile trades. Diaz has always been somewhat of an enigma to me, I simply could never get behind the high-rankings that often came along with him. That said, even with Starlin Castro under contract for a few more years (should he not be traded), there is a lack of depth in the Marlins system. Any injury and Diaz may get his chance.
(video from MLB Prospect Portal)
Now 22, Diaz has completed the transition from shortstop to second base, not playing a single game at Jacksonville or New Orleans there in 2018. He has nice power for his position, which is his calling card, and certainly shows an ability to get on base with nearly a 13 percent walk rate throughout his career. He seems like he can pull off being a big leaguer, I suppose I’m in the minority in needing to see it to believe it.
Where do Nick Gordon and Gavin Lux fit in?
The 20-year-old Lux (Los Angeles Dodgers) had a very nice season, primarily in the California League before wrapping up the season in Tulsa. Combined he slashed .324/.399/.514 with a .913 OPS. However, he plays primarily shortstop and where he fits in depends a lot on what the Dodgers do in the offseason. A healthy Corey Seager or re-signing of Manny Machado (I understand that isn’t likely) surely takes Lux out of the future shortstop equation. Maybe he can grab hold of a second base opportunity if injury strikes.
Gordon didn’t look like the prospect he had been touted as in his Triple-A debut, but it just seems that his time as a minor leaguer is coming to a close. There is some opportunity with the Twins big league squad, and Gordon’s best chance may come at second, despite still being billed as a shortstop. That may hold him back for some more seasoning at second base, but it just seems like he’s worn out his time in the minors.