Next up for the prospect series are the second basemen. It's a deep position compared to the previous ones we've covered: 1B and catcher. The position is also made deeper simply because shortstops that don't cut or find themselves blocked, as will be the case with the Cubs, could find them at 2B. For now, though, we'll focus on the guys who actually play 2B right now.
There was no problem finding 5 good players on the list but projecting who will turn out to be the best involves some speculation at this point. It's possible that if you ask 5 different people, you may get 5 different opinions as to who the top 2B guy is.
1. Gioskar Amaya, 19, 5'11", 175 lbs., R/R
- Likely 2013 club: Kane County (A)
- ETA: 2016
I could probably make an argument for any of these guys being at the top of the list. They're all talented players with strong mental makeup. It'll be fun to see which player emerges as the best when the smoke clears. For now I'm going with Amaya (.298/.381/.496). He's among the best pure hitters of the Cubs 2B group and this year added some new elements to his game. He became a more patient hitter, nearly doubling his walk rate from 5.7% to 10.4%. He also added power, hitting 8 HRs after not hitting any at all last season, as well as raising his ISO from .132 to .199. He also turned out to be a faster baserunner than expected. Defensively he has good hands and solid range at 2B, though he did get sloppy with his throws at times. Amaya is quiet off the field, but is intelligent and plays the game with energy and intensity.
2. Logan Watkins, 23, 5'11, 170 lbs., L/R
- Likely 2013 club: Iowa (AAA)
- ETA: 2013
With a lot of similar ceilings, Watkins has the highest floor. He is a grinder with more speed and athleticism than incumbent Darwin Barney. He's not a big player, but he's wiry strong. The Cubs felt he would eventually hit with enough extra base power to be viable as a starter and Watkins has proven them to be correct, steadily increasing his ISO every season, going from .038 his first year to .141 at AA last season, including a career high 9 HRs and .422 slugging percentage. Power isn't Watkins' game, though. He's an on-base machine who uses good plate discipline (12.9% walk rate) and speed from the left side to get on base (.383 OBP). Defensively, he is not at Barney's level but he's a solid defender in his own right with the arm to play SS if needed. Like all the players on this list, Watkins has the mental makeup to figure out what he needs to improve, take coaching, and then apply it to his game. He's going to be a big leaguer, the only question is what kind of impact he'll have once he gets there. He has the ability to replace Barney as a starter at 2B and his floor is as a valuable utility man who can play 2B, SS, and CF while providing speed and a solid bat from the left side.
3. Ronald Torreyes, 20, 5'9, 140 lbs., R/R
- Likely 2013 club: Tennessee (AA)
- ETA: Late 2014/Early 2015
There are many who might pick Torreyes, partially on the strength of his age relative to the level he played at this season. No question that playing and holding your own in the FSL at age 19 is an impressive feat, especially when you consider that Torreyes more than held his own in the 2nd half, when he hit .297/.361/.450. Torreyes is not as big as his listed height, but he has an uncanny knack for squaring up the baseball and the wiry strength to hit with some gap power at the big league level. Most of his value will have to come from his batting average as Torreyes is an aggressive hitter who makes contact easily. He had an unbelievably low 6.1 % K rate, and while he doesn't walk much, he did have a career high walk rate of 6.8% last season. If he can be a .300 hitter, that will be more than enough to give him a respectable OBP. Defensively, he's played some SS but his arm and range are just average at best, but they play up because of his good instincts in the field.
4. Zeke DeVoss, 22, 5'10", 175 lbs., S/R
- Likely 2013 club: Daytona (Adv. A)
- ETA: 2015
The speedy, switch-hitting DeVoss had something of a disappointing year at the plate (.249/.382/.370), though his tremendous eye (14.1% walk rate), more than made up for his pedestrian batting average. The interesting split with DeVoss is that he was much better as a right-handed hitter, where he hit .287/.415/.465, making you wonder if he should scrap switch-hitting. Other numbers of note were a relatively low .319 BABIP, especially considering his speed and the low level at which he played; and an increase in his power numbers (ISO up to .120 from .076 last season). So, there is some hope he can rebound a bit on offense next year at Daytona. Defensively DeVoss is still a work in progress. He uses his excellent athleticism to make the occasional spectacular play, even making the ESPN highlights with one catch, but did struggle at times with the routine chances. If he can't stick at 2B, he has the speed, arm, and instincts to be a good CF.
5. Stephen Bruno, 21, 5'9" 175 lbs., R/R
- Likely 2013 club: Kane County (A)
- ETA: 2015
Stephen Bruno doesn't have prototypical size but he can really swing the bat. He's an aggressive hitter who makes consistent hard contact with solid gap power. In his debut season at Boise, he hit .361/.438/.492. That average led the NWL. Bruno ranks a bit lower on this list because of his advanced age -- he'll be 22 and has yet to play full season ball. He may actually make the jump to Daytona this year, but if he sticks with catching into the season, it's possible the Cubs may move him slowly so that he can adapt defensively without having to take on the challenge of the FSL offensively. What you want to see Bruno work on is becoming a bit more selective at the plate. His walk rate is the lowest in this group (6.2%). In fact, he had more HBPs than walks last year (20 to 18), which helped contribute to his outstanding OBP. Defensively, Bruno is athletic with a good arm and can literally play anywhere on the field. That versatility is going to help him get to the big leagues, likely as a super utility guy, but his hitting ability gives him a chance to start somewhere.
Position Change Candidate: Frandy De La Rosa, 16, 6'0", 160 lbs., S/R
As mentioned, there are a lot of candidates for this position change (including every SS prospect in the organization) but De La Rosa is almost certain to move, probably before he even reaches full season ball. He just lacks the range and arm for SS right now, though he does have the good hands to stay in the IF. The Cubs signed him primarily for his bat, however, and he has the potential to surpass all of these players in time.
The Cubs are pretty good at selecting gritty, grindy IF types with enough athleticism to make the majors, usually as utility players but some, like Ryan Theriot and Darwin Barney, wind up starting. There are three such examples in the system now in Timothy Saunders, David Bote, and Daniel Lockhart. Saunders has been the best hitter and even got as far as Daytona in his first season. Overall he hit .381/.431/.536. He'll likely start the next season in Daytona where he'll move around the infield and outfield and get his share of ABs.
Filed under: prospects