TAMPA, FL - With intrasquads over and the regular Spring Training game schedule beginning, the…
Yankees vs. Red Sox: Second Base Prospects
New York has a pair of quality second base prospects nearly big league ready, headlined by right-handed slugger David Adams. Adams, a third round pick out of the University of Virginia back in 2008, literally has no weaknesses in his game but has been held back by a nagging ankle injury sustained nearly two seasons ago. With power, some speed, excellent plate discipline, and arguably the best at turning double-plays in either farm system, he just needs to prove he is healthy going forward and he's looking like his old self early in Spring Training camp.
Right behind Adams is Corban Joseph, a sweet-swinging left-handed batter who also employs big league plate discipline, an ability to hit to all fields, some speed, and his defensive game has rapidly improved over the past two seasons to the point where he projects to be a very solid defensive big league second baseman. He has power too, although it is currently more of the gap variety but he is just now starting to look like a solid double-digit home run guy long-term. Along with Adams, he is also one of the best clutch hitters in either farm system.
It's not as if Boston doesn't have their own high-ceiling and close to big league ready second base prospects. Oscar Tejeda, currently a member of the 40-man roster, is an extremely enigmatic player in that his overall tools package screams high ceiling but the production thus far has been wildly inconsistent. He grades out as above average power-wise, speed-wise, hitting-wise, and defensively as well, but he has yet to post a season where he has excelled in all categories. In some ways he resembles a right-handed hitting version of a young Robinson Cano where most observers believe he should be doing better than he is at the minor league level, and like Cano, could blossom once he gets to the big leagues.
Boston's Sean Coyle, a third round pick in 2010 out of Germantown Academy High School in Pennsylvania, is a Dustin Pedroia clone. Standing just 5-foot-8, he too has an incredibly scrappy game on both sides of the ball. He shows fantastic plate discipline, good power to all fields, and while the batting average hasn't been there quite yet most scouts believe he's going to be a high-average hitter in due time. Outside of his physical limitations, he literally has no weaknesses in his game.
Beyond those two, however, Boston is pretty much devoid of potential impact second base prospects wheres the Yankees have quite a few more. Angelo Gumbs, a 19-year old who has yet to break into the long-season leagues, has arguably the highest ceiling at second base between the Yankees and Red Sox. He possesses amazing bat speed because of his quick-twitch hands, solid big league power that only projects to get better, above average speed, and like Joseph he too is getting much better on the defensive side of the ball.
Anderson Feliz of the Yankees, another 19-year old, isn't far behind Gumbs when it comes to ceiling. He too is very athletic, shows excellent range defensively, soft hands, average big league power potential with a chance to develop a little more perhaps, and he is a lot faster than his pedestrian stolen base totals thus far would suggest. In fact, his rather meager 2011 numbers truly belie his high-ceiling talent. Most young switch-hitters struggle with their swing mechanics so he should also hit for a higher average than he has shown thus far.
New York also has a host of potential second base prospects who currently play other positions right now but have the realistic chance of sliding over to second base long-term, all of which would be outstanding offensive contributors at the position; third baseman Fu-Lin Kuo, and current shortstop Jose Pirela, Claudio Custodio, and Jose Rosario. All four have already gotten reps at second base.
Pirela, who can be overwhelmed defensively at shortstop sometimes, has looked like a Gold Glover when playing second base. He brings a ton of energy to the game, a solid offensive approach, average power, and average speed, but he has great intangibles and does all of the little things to help a club win.
Kuo, a Taiwan native, is pretty similar to Pirela with his center to opposite field approach, average power, ability to barrel the ball, and come up in big spots. He's a shade slower speed-wise but he too shows high baseball intellect.
Rosario fits the same Kuo and Pirela mold offensively as showing average power, solid speed, and an ability to be a consistent hitter, but he has a far greater chance of sticking at his natural position [shortstop] than they do at theirs. Custodio is longest shot of the four to move to second base because he's proven to be a very good defensive shortstop and therefore could have the best chance of sticking there long-term, but he has played an outstanding second base for an entire season before so he gives the Yankees some options.
For now though we'll keep Pirela, Kuo, Rosario, and Custodio out of the categorical discussions below until one of them makes a permanent move to second base down the road. Just keep in mind they give the Yankees some 'sleeper' options at the position.
How Do They Compare In...
Power: Coyle has good 'now' power but it might have some long-term limitations, and while we haven't come close to seeing the best of Tejeda's power, the duo isn't enough to overcome the depth of Adams, Gumbs, Feliz, and Joseph right now. The Yankees just have more numbers here. Advantage: Yankees
Hitting For Average: The Yankees once again have too much depth and especially considering two of their better hitters are knocking on the big league door already. And that's not even taking into consideration how much better Gumbs and Feliz project to be down the road. Advantage: Yankees
Defense: Here's where it is real close. Yes the Yankees have a bit more depth at second base but Coyle and Tejeda are also excellent defensive players. Advantage: Even
Speed: The Yankees have a few more second base who can swipe bases but all together it's not much greater than Tejeda and Coyle. The Yankees have the slightest of edges here but it's closer than you'd think. Advantage: Yankees
Overall Potential: The Red Sox really do have two very high upside second base prospects and they both are relatively safe bets to reach their ceilings. However, the same can be said of Adams and Joseph, and even Gumbs to an extent. There's strength in numbers so the Yankees once again get an edge here. Advantage: Yankees
Highest Ceilings: Angelo Gumbs (Yankees), David Adams (Yankees), Oscar Tejeda (Red Sox), Sean Coyle (Red Sox), Corban Joseph (Yankees)
Best Power: Angelo Gumbs (Yankees), David Adams (Yankees), Oscar Tejeda (Red Sox), Sean Coyle (Red Sox), Anderson Feliz (Yankees)
Best Average: David Adams (Yankees), Corban Joseph (Yankees), Oscar Tejeda (Red Sox), Sean Coyle (Red Sox), Angelo Gumbs (Yankees)
Best Defense: Oscar Tejeda (Red Sox), David Adams (Yankees), Sean Coyle (Red Sox), Anderson Feliz (Yankees), Angelo Gumbs (Yankees)
Best Speed: Oscar Tejeda (Red Sox), Angelo Gumbs (Yankees), Anderson Feliz (Yankees), Sean Coyle (Red Sox), Corban Joseph (Yankees)
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