Second base is one of the depositories of the most talented players in the minor leagues. Many of them are on different career paths; even if they are headed for the major leagues, they might turn into shortstops, center fielders, left fielders, or, amazingly, second basemen. These two facts make them hard to rank, so this is more of a roll call than a ranking. The players are split into two groups. The first group is made up of the youngsters who project to defensive and offensive excellence, while the second group is everybody else. The basic idea is that all of these guys fit the category of can't miss prospects, but they will fill different roles in their organizations down the road.
Future Gold Glovers
Edgar Berroa, Atlanta AA, 2nd year pro, 19 years old.
Berroa is a five-tool player who caught a cup of coffee in AA and hit 42 doubles in season 7. He can steal bases and should be competent in the field no matter what level he plays. .290/.380/.480 is somewhere in his future.
Phil Eckstein, Albuquerque Low A, 2nd year pro, 21 years old.
Eckstein has a bright future defensively, but the now of this Bald Knob native is that he can rake. He hit .406 in his rookie and low A campaigns combined with 70 total doubles and 70 stolen bases. Eckstein only missed 4 games in season 7.
Fred Redding, Honolulu Low A, 1st year pro, 18 years old.
Redding, if he develops like the scouts project, will be one of the slickest fielders ever. His offense does not keep up with his fielding, but he still posted a .904 OPS.
Russ Mercedes, Pawtucket AA, 3rd year pro, 22 years old.
Mercedes is talented, bringing speed, range, fielding, hitting for average, and power to the Patriots. He has hit over .360 the last three seasons with 60-plus doubles each of the last two years. He has just 28 errors in 256 career games.
Quilvio Perez, Little Rock High A, 3rd year pro, 20 years old.
Perez has the defensive potential to play anywhere but catcher and brings speed and baserunning ability to his talented total package. He stole 27 bases, hit .314, and picked up a .397 OBP while improving in the field.
Four- and Five-Tool Players
sorted by level
Les Livingstone, Boise Rookie, 1st year pro, 20 years old.
Sub-par major league range but everything else looks promising.
Alexander Taylor, Boston Rookie, 1st year pro, 18 years old.
18th overall pick could become a force at any level, but his defense won't wow anybody.
Samuel Stevens, Washington, D.C. Rookie, 1st year pro, 18 years old.
His range and power probably won't get him noticed in his mid-to-late 20s.
Philip Messmer, San Juan Low A, 1st year pro, 21 years old.
Messmer will be able to get to anything in the field. Honed his skills at West Point...Mississippi.
Rudy Hayes, St. Louis Low A, 2nd year pro, 19 years old.
Hayes had 54 home runs and almost 200 RBI this year, but his glovework isn't quite as wondrous.
Brad Smith, Minnesota Low A, 1st year pro, 18 years old.
Won't make the big club as a second baseman but they'll have to put him somewhere with his more-than-capable bat.
Jerry Burns, Las Vegas AA, 4th year pro, 21 years old.
His glove and arm could earn him a shot at third or short; Burns is an all-around good player.
Max Hernandez, Jackson AAA, 6th year pro, 23 years old.
Hernandez probably could have been successful in the majors this year, and he should be even better next year.
William Alexander, Montgomery AAA, 4th year pro, 25 years old.
Designed to kill left-handed pitching and be pretty good at everything else.
Denny Cooper, Syracuse AAA, 4th year pro, 25 years old.
Rare find who collected over 100 extra-base hits in AAA. Cooper is almost as scary on the basepaths but not quite ideal as a defender since he's lightning-quick but doesn't have a glut of range.