First base is looking good, the left side of the infield is looking very good, and catcher is a problem.
That brings us to quite possibly the deepest position in the farm system: second base. Not only have the Cubs drafted, signed, and traded for some quality second base talent in recent years, they have also seen a number of players drift in that direction either because they lack the athleticism for shortstop or the power and arm for third base. Some of those possible second basemen we have mentioned already (Arismendy Alcantara, Timothy Saunders, Stephen Bruno), but that still leaves us with a long list of players who hope to challenge Darwin Barney one day.
And those challenges to Barney could start coming next spring. Logan Watkins should be in Iowa this season, and I expect he will do fairly well. Watkins, the Cubs’ Minor League Player of the Year in 2012, is one of those guys who never takes a play off, but that is just one of many assets he brings to a team. He is not quite the defender Barney is, but he has more patience, more speed, more power, and hits left handed. Even if Watkins can’t take the major league job, I still look for him to find a job on the major league bench. In addition to second base, he’s a fair defender at shortstop and can handle center field.
Taking over the starting job in Tennessee should be one of the more intriguing players in the system: Ronald Torreyes. Torreyes might be the best pure hitter in the organization. Look no further than his BB% (6.8%) and his K% (6.1%) and you will understand why some still maintain he is the best second base prospect in the farm system. Unfortunately, even though he may be a potentially great hitter, he has only moderate speed and has not yet shown much power. I’m not sure if his bat alone can carry him to a major league starting job, but I would not count him out altogether.
Zeke DeVoss should pick up most of the innings at second base in Daytona this year. DeVoss’s game revolves around OBP and speed, and so far he has proven to be good at both. His defense has been a little iffy at times, but he has the tools to be no worse than average with more experience.
And then we have Gioskar Amaya. If you like watching a smooth fielding (for his age, anyway) second baseman who can spray line drives all over the field, then get in line at the Kane County ticket window. Amaya was one of the offensive leaders in the Northwest League last season despite being young for the level; if he puts up similar numbers to open the season in the Midwest League, he could find himself in Florida by late summer.
Remember David Bote? Probably not. The Cubs 18th round draft pick in 2012 did not exactly get much press. He posted an OBP of .349 as a 19 year old in Arizona last season, though, so he should be worth keep track of when the short season leagues get underway mid-year.
We should not forget about Rubi Silva, either. Silva has not quite performed the way many fans hoped when the Cubs signed the Cuban defector to a huge bonus, but he still holds promise as a potential utility guy who can swing between center field and second base. His BB% has been brutally low in recent years; that will need to improve if he is going to keep finding playing time at an increasingly crowded position.
Pin-Chieh Chen and Taiwan Easterling both have split time between second base and the outfield. Right now both speedsters look more like full-time center fielders, but I look for them to get enough practice on the infield to maintain that flexibility as they move up the system.
Also worth mentioning are some of the other infielders mentioned in yesterday’s article. Javier Baez is far more likely to land on third or in the outfield than at second, and the same goes for Junior Lake, but neither can be entirely counted out. Christian Villanueva could land there if never develops the power for third base. Since it seems like he has played a little bit of everything so far in his career, it is tough to project where Wes Darvill will land for sure, but second base cannot be counted out for him either.
Once this pipeline of talent reaches Wrigley, and Watkins should be the first to arrive, it is entirely possible that the Cubs could play a different second baseman every season for the next half decade and never drop below league average at the position. Considering the current incumbent happens to be the reigning Gold Glove winner, it is hard to be pessimistic about the Cubs’ future at second. Most prospects never work out, but with this many quality options at all levels of the organization, the Cubs should be able to rely on internal options at second for the foreseeable future.