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logan-watkins[The third in a series on the Chicago Cubs’ farm system depth. A look at catcher and first base is here, and a look at the left side of the infield is here.]

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.

  • mudge

    I’m not sure any of these players are truly second basemen.

    • Marc N.

      Good point.

      I can’t really say there’s much I agree with on this one. It’s underrated the crap out of the 2B position in the major league levels and there’s alot of non-quantified stuff that should be quantified (is it really the position for 3B busts? Who moves guys *up* the defensive spectrum?).

      • Marc N.

        Wow…*underrating the crap out of the 2B position at the major league level

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        That part was my addition to the tease – how many “second baseman” are taken in the high rounds of a draft? How many “second baseman” make their way onto top 100 lists?

        Where did anyone say anything about a third baseman, specifically, busting and then moving to second?

        • Marc N.

          Most 2B are SSs who did not have the range for SS. It’s just that type of position. Those guys tend to get underrated because they lack the exciting athleticism of a SS or the power of a 3B, but sometimes you get a Baez or Utley or Cano that has the bat to be a monster and the defensive tools to play up the middle. In that case, you get a special player.

          Why is it relevant how many make their way onto top 100 lists? Cano never made a top 100 list and BA had Utley as a future 3B in ’05 (his 3rd season in the majors). That stuff matters so much less than the real life value of having a monster bat up the middle.

          For the last question – Christian Villanueva. The comment that he might be a 2B possibility was brought up by a lesser prospect source (one of the FanGraphs guys) in passing a couple of years ago and maybe once last year also in passing. He’s bulked up a ton even from ’11 to ’12 and most seem to agree that he’s too big for 2B now. Maybe he isn’t, but moving him to second would moving him up the defensive spectrum rather than down. That doesn’t happen very often, if at all (can’t really think of one).

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            You answered your own question – the reason it’s relevant how many “second basemen” make it onto top 100 prospect lists is because, in most systems, as they’re coming up and/or back when they’re drafted, they aren’t second basemen. Top infield prospects are shortstops. Only when it becomes clear that they can’t last at short do they get moved off, frequently to second base.

            Hence why I said that second base is often the landing spot for busted out (shortstop) prospects. I think you’re getting hung up on “busted out” – I didn’t mean non-prospects. I just meant ones that can no longer play shortstop.

            • Marc N.

              Oh, OK then I misread slash jumped.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                Eh – I did a pretty crappy job of explaining what I meant.

          • DaveY

            Wrong…. shortstops with limited range go to third. Presumably, if the shortstop has limited range it’s because he is bigger and less mobile but bigger hopefully means stronger and he can hit for the power expected at third. Shortstops with weak arms go to second. They have the range to go deep in the hole at short but don’t have the arm to make the long throw. See Ryan Theriot. If you have a weak arm and limited range, you shouldn’t have been playing shortstop…

            • Marc N.

              Shortstops with limited range move to 3B or 2B, many times to 2B.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Maybe not, but Wakins, Torreyes, DeVoss and Amaya are your starting second baseman right down the chain. That kind of makes them second basemen.

      • mudge

        We’re ALL second basemen.

        • cubzfan

          ICH BIN EIN BARNEY-LINER!

  • Marc N.

    As far as talent for the position in the Cubs’ minors:

    1: Baez

    2: Pick your favorite of the JAGs below him

    SS is also the deepest position in the organization and farm system for the Cubs.

    • Marc N.

      Should read:

      1: Baez

      *Massive Gap*

      2: Pick-a-JAG

      • TheDynastyStartsIn2016

        In your ear;ier post you stated Villanueva has already outgrown 2nd base. You do know know he’s still not as big as Baez, right?

        • Marc N.

          What’s your point? One is a 3B who’s growing into a 3B while another is a SS who is still performing fine at SS. One moving to 2B would be moving down the defensive spectrum while another would be moving up the defensive spectrum.

  • Jacob

    Is that a picture of Logan Watkins?

    • Spriggs

      yes

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yes.

  • cubchymyst

    If Lake was at second base, I’d be afraid being in the stands behind first base. An errant throw might break someone hands trying to catch it without a mitt.

    • Marc N.

      Lake is like 6’4″/6’5″ now…him at 2B is barely visible from the rear view at this point. He was never a good enough SS to legitimately imagine him sticking up the middle anyway, and once he bulked up that whole scenario was gone.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      It’s bad enough sitting behind first when he makes a throw from the grass at short. His arm is flat out impressive.

  • http://Bleachernation Loyal100more

    What’s dunston jr’s arm like? Daddy had a cannon!

  • NCMoss

    Slightly offended when people say 2b is for players who couldn’t hack it at 3b and SS. I’m a second basemen by choice and proud of it!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I was a second baseman who couldn’t hack it at short. :)

      • NCMoss

        I think at some point I just decided to cut out the middleman.

        • hansman1982

          Pfft, in school I was so awesome, I just stood behind 2B and covered the whole field…

        • NCMoss

          Did you happen to be an outfielder? (;

      • MightyBear

        I was a 2b and there is no way I could play short or third with my arm. I could hit pretty well and drive the ball for a little bastard.

  • DaveY

    Of all the current second basemen mentioned, I don’t think any of them has a strong case to take Barney’s job. Amaya probably has the best chance and he is years away. I think Vogelbach has a much better chance of taking Rizzo’s job.

    • BluBlud

      Hey, that’s because Vogelbach is the top prospect in all of baseball. :)

      • DarthHater

        He is to baseball what Bin Laden was to terrorism.

        Perfect!

        :-P

        • Misuser use of Hyperbelanalogy (BluBlud)

          He sure knows hot to plot a hit on a baseball.

        • Misuser use of Hyperbelanalogy (BluBlud)

          BTW, do you know the Home Owners Association for the House I renting in Florida fined me $50 for sticking an American flag on a flag pole in the grass by my driveway the day after they annouced he was dead. And yall though Ricketts was having trouble with Wrigley field.

          • hansman1982

            HOA. smh…

    • cedlandrum

      It is interesting, but I think Watkins is a much better all around player then Barney. So we shall see. I think he is underrated all the way around.

  • Rebuilding

    I hope you’re right. His left handed bat and batting eye would certainly help. I’ve never seen Watkins play. Is his arm good enough to play some at 3rd?

    • http://www.wavesoftalent.webs.com tim815

      He’s played short a bunch in the minors. And center. I don’t see why not.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      His arm is good enough, but he doesn’t look like he’s going to have the power necessary for third.

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  • Bilbo161

    I think every one of these guys is going to challenge Barney at some point unless Barney can get his OBP up. I love his glove and most folks don’t give that the merit it is due, but we do need more production out of his spot in the batting order. He will always be fighting to keep his job.

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