MLB Pipeline will reveal its 2021 Top 100 Prospects list on Friday, Jan. 29. Leading up to the release of the Top 100, we’ll examine baseball’s top 10 prospects at each position. Second base isn’t a glamour position. It features the least exciting tools profile, and many of the top
MLB Pipeline will reveal its 2021 Top 100 Prospects list on Friday, Jan. 29. Leading up to the release of the Top 100, we’ll examine baseball’s top 10 prospects at each position.
Second base isn’t a glamour position. It features the least exciting tools profile, and many of the top second basemen in the big leagues are refugees from other positions, often shortstop.
In the first 43 years of the Draft, just 11 second basemen were selected in the first round, and only one went in the top five picks. Yet a dozen have become first-round choices in the past 13 Drafts, including three in 2020: Nick Gonzales (Pirates), Justin Foscue (Rangers) and Nick Yorke (Red Sox).
All three of them claim spots on our updated Top 10 Second Base Prospects list, along with fellow first-rounders Nick Madrigal (White Sox, 2018) and Michael Busch (Dodgers, 2019). Xavier Edwards was a Padres supplemental first-rounder in 2018 before getting traded to the Rays, while Chase Strumpf went in the second round to the Cubs a year later. Aaron Bracho (Indians) and Ji-Hwan Bae (Pirates) were seven-figure signees from the 2017-18 international class, adding to a second base Top 10 with a much stronger pedigree than usual.
The Top 10 (ETA)
1. Nick Madrigal, White Sox (2021)
2. Nick Gonzales, Pirates (2022)
3. Vidal Brujan, Rays (2021)
4. Xavier Edwards, Rays (2022)
5. Michael Busch, Dodgers (2022)
6. Aaron Bracho, Indians (2023)
7. Chase Strumpf, Cubs (2022)
8. Justin Foscue, Rangers (2023)
9. Ji-Hwan Bae, Pirates (2022)
10. Nick Yorke, Red Sox (2024)
Complete list »
Hitter: Madrigal (70)
Madrigal has exceptional bat-to-ball skills, one of the main reasons the White Sox drafted him fourth overall three years ago. He hit .311 and led the Minors in strikeout rate (3 percent) while reaching Triple-A in his first full pro season, then batted .340 in 29 games with Chicago last summer.
Power: Busch (55)
Busch could provide 25 or more homers on an annual basis thanks to his knack for barreling balls, his combination of bat speed and strength, and his polished approach. Primarily a first baseman and left fielder in college at North Carolina, he has improved his quickness and arm strength since signing, enhancing his chances of staying at second base.
Runner: Brujan, Edwards, Bae (70)
All three of these speedsters draw top-of-the-scale 80 grades from some evaluators and know how to use their quickness to get on base and create havoc once they do. Brujan led the Minors with 103 steals in 2018-19, Edwards is a career .328 hitter with 56 swipes in 168 pro games, and Bae won the low Class A South Atlantic League batting title (.323) and stole 31 bags in 86 contests during his 2019 full-season debut.
Arm: Brujan (55)
Brujan’s arm earns average to solid grades, which might be enough for him to play some shortstop, where he got about one-third of his starts in 2019. The Rays are loaded at short, however, with big league starter Willy Adames, the game’s top prospect in Wander Franco and slick-fielding Taylor Walls and Alika Williams, among others, so Brujan figures to stay at second base.
Field: Madrigal (60)
With his high baseball IQ, actions, quickness and hands, Madrigal could definitely play shortstop — if he didn’t have fringy arm strength. He has Gold Glove potential at second base and has claimed that spot on MLB Pipeline’s All-Defense team for three years running.
Highest ceiling: Gonzales
The sixth overall pick last June, Gonzales topped NCAA Division I in batting (.432) in 2019 and homers (12 in 16 games) in 2020 while winning MVP honors in the wood-bat Cape Cod League in between. He has uncommon offensive upside for a second baseman and could hit .300 with 20-25 homers per season.
Highest floor: Madrigal
While there are questions as to exactly how much impact Madrigal will provide at the plate, he looks like a lock to be a solid regular for a White Sox club that already has plenty of offensive firepower. He’ll make plenty of contact at the plate, provide value on the bases and play a nifty second base.
Rookie of the Year candidate: Madrigal
Madrigal is the lone player on this list guaranteed regular big league playing time in 2021. If he hadn’t missed three weeks last August after separating his left shoulder on a slide, he already would have lost his rookie eligibility.
Highest riser: Yorke
Yorke had shoulder surgery before his high school junior season in 2019, which relegated him to DH duty that spring and curtailed him on the showcase circuit. A year later, the Red Sox made him a surprise first-round pick (17th overall) and signed him for $2.7 million.
Humblest beginning: Brujan
While the other nine players on this Top 10 averaged $2.9 million in signing bonuses, Brujan turned pro for just $15,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2014. The Rays gave more money to 28 other players in that international class, including $2.95 million to Dominican shortstop Adrian Rondon, but Brujan has eclipsed them all.
Most to prove: Yorke
While the Red Sox fully believe in Yorke and some clubs regarded him as the best high school hitter on the West Coast, most teams evaluated him as more of a second- or third-rounder. His arm hasn’t bounced all the way back from his shoulder surgery, so he also has to show he can handle second base.
Keep an eye on: Zach McKinstry, Dodgers
Though he might have a tough time cracking a loaded Dodgers roster, McKinstry has the potential for average or better tools across the board and is capable of playing all over the infield and outfield. A 33rd-round pick out of Central Michigan in 2016, he hit .300/.366/.516 with 19 homers between Double-A and Triple-A in 2019.