|Age||Likely 2015 Level||Top 50|
*Odubel Herrera is on the corner outfield depth chart given where the Phillies have indicated his future is
Second base is a weird position. Not many players start as second baseman, some start as shortstops and move over, some start as outfielders and move in, but all in all it is a skill set that takes a bunch of average parts and makes them work. Defensively second base defense has a tendency to get underrated because it lacks the flash and range of shortstop or the cannon throws of third base, but defense is important at second just as it is at all the other up the middle positions. Second base prospects are risky because they tend to have nowhere else to go and in the current era of 7 man bullpens, there really isn’t a bench role either. The Phillies have solved this problem by employing a likely Hall of Famer at the position since 2004 in Chase Utley. While Utley continues to put up solid numbers, he is 36 and likely to not last forever. The Phillies don’t have a major league ready replacement right now, but the history of second baseman tells us that not having the next one on the list right now might not be a problem.
Best Prospect: Jesmuel Valentin
Valentin, a former supplemental 1st round pick of the Dodgers, came over to Philly in the Roberto Hernandez deal. What he lacks in raw tools he makes up for with an impressive feel for the game. He might be able to handle shortstop in small bursts (as well as almost any position on the diamond), but his best fit is at second base. He has a decent amount of power, and while he is not a burner, he is an efficient base runner. Valentin should open 2015 with a return trip to Clearwater, where he made a 12 game cameo after the trade. He could move quickly if he gets his feet back under him.
2015 Impact: Carlos Alonso
The 2015 season will represent Alonso’s 6th in the Phillies system since being drafted in the 32nd round of the 2010 draft. At age 27 he is not a prospect, but after hitting .272/.367/.396 in Reading last year, a trip to the majors is not a far distance. Alonso can play second and third and is good defensively at both. At the plate he has a good approach, makes a good amount of contact, but lacks enough power to take the profile over the edge. He is highly unlikely to have any sort of sustained major league career, but he is a great person and player to have hanging around an organization.
Sleeper: Andrew Pullin
Pullin was the Phillies 5th round pick in the 2012 draft, and immediately after signing the Phillies moved the former outfielder into the infield. Pullin is fairly athletic and is an average runner, with an average arm, and the range to handle second. His actions on defense continue to need work, but he has made great strides. He makes a lot of contact at the plate, though he has more line drive than home run power due to the lack of upward plane in his swing. In 2014 he got his plate discipline under control, and made incremental improvements each month. His overall numbers will be improved by the move from Lakewood to Clearwater.
Player of Interest: Drew Stankiewicz
Stankiewicz was the Phillies 11th round pick in the 2014 draft. The 2B/SS first went to the NYPL for 23 games where he hit .329/.385/.418 while walking more than he struck out. His next 23 games were in Lakewood where he struggled to a .145/.198/.145 line. He is likely a second baseman going forward because he lacks the typical range for a shortstop. Stankiewicz doesn’t have impact tools, but he has a good approach and has made consistent contact outside of his trip to Lakewood. He will need to hit at each level, but small second baseman with a feel for the game do tend to get underrated and go under the radar.
Image by Matthew Straubmuller