Ronald Torreyes may have spent the first half of the season in extended spring training, but what he was able to do over the second half of the season puts him at the top of my list at second base. The 18 year old burst onto the scene last year after demolishing the Venezuelan Summer League before coming to the US and hitting .349/.379/.494 for the AZL Reds as a 17 year old. Despite being one of three every day players in the Midwest League during the second half, he hit an incredible .356/.398/.457 for Dayton with 14 walks and 19 strikeouts in 306 plate appearances. His defense is pretty strong at second base where he has good range, an average arm and committed only 3 errors in 263 chances.

If there were another player who would vie for the top spot at the position, it would have to be Henry Rodriguez.  Rodriguez isn’t as good defensively, but if there is one thing that Rodriguez can do it is hit. After hitting .307 for Dayton in 2010, Rodriguez found himself splitting his season between Bakersfield and Carolina. While in Bakersfield the 21 year old hit .340/.378/.513 with 17 doubles and 8 HR’s. He went to Carolina right before the All Star break and after starting off slow, he turned things around to finish with a .302/.367/.432 line for the Mudcats with 19 doubles, a triple and 5 HR’s. His bat will be his calling card, but he should be able to stick defensively at second base where he had 16 errors in 419 chances.

While those two separated themselves from the group, there were still several guys who show some promise at the position. Brodie Greene spent nearly his entire season in Bakersfield where he hit .287/.344/.436. On the surface those numbers look pedestrian due to the friendliness of the Cal League, but Greene had a power surge from June through the end of the year, cracking 13 of his 14 HR’s after the calender flipped beyond May. The Reds thought enough of him to make him their one player below AA that they could send to the Arizona Fall League. Cody Puckett missed some of the season due to injuries, but started out incredibly hot before cooling down to a more mediocre .248/.313/.466 line for AA Carolina. His power output was impressive though, hitting 29 doubles and 15 HR’s in just 339 at bats. He will likely be below average defensively at second base, which is why he has been spending some time in the outfield as well. Chris Valaika and Kristopher Negron both had disappointing years for the Louisville Bats, but both guys are still on the Reds 40 man roster.

Devin Lohman had a strange season. He began the year in Dayton and playing second base, but couldn’t get things going as he hit just .208/.269/.256 with 17 walks and 47 strikeouts before being sent to Billings when they began. Lohman spend 29 games with the Mustangs hitting .322/.420/.461 with 16 walks and 22 strikeouts before getting a promotion to High A Bakersfield. He kept on hitting the cover off of the ball in Bakersfield where he put up a .331/.400/.554 line with 13 walks and 23 strikeouts. With Dayton, his BABIP was a little low and at his other two stops it was .365, but his improvements weren’t just from luck, he cut down his strikeout rate and raised his walk rate as well.

Two rookie level players also stood out at second base. Ryan Wright spent most of his season in Billings after being drafted in the 5th round of the 2011 draft. With the Mustangs he hit .298/.348/.522 with 11 doubles, 2 triples and 7 HR’s to go along with 9 walks and 27 strikeouts in 182 plate appearances. The plate discipline wasn’t as good as you would like, but the power was good to see and he was named as the Pioneer Leagues 10th best prospect at Baseball America. Down in Arizona, Brandon Dailey put up a strong .298/.387/.404 line with 23 walks and 37 strikeouts in 201 plate appearances. He showed off good speed with 5 triples and 18 steals (2 CS). The 19 year old was in his first season after being drafted by the Reds in the 2010 draft.

Overall Thoughts

There are a lot of interesting possibilities in this group and a solid or better prospect all of the way up the ladder. The top two guys have some separation between them and the rest of the group as they are a bit more polished but they also lack a little bit of projectability moving forward. Some of the others have some good projectable tools, but need to polish up their game some more. Overall I would say that this group is a strong B grade, with prospects to cover the position all of the way up the chain and two strong prospects leading the group. If the top two guys had a little more projection I would bump up the grade to a B+, but I think that they are limited in the amount of growth that they have left.

19 Responses

  1. MDRon

    This position is strong; particularly if we include a couple guys currently playing SS. If someone grabs the SS position by the throat (say Didi or Cozart), then the other could be moved into the 2B mix – along with Hamilton.
    Valaika really confused me this year. He was crap the first half, and closer to what we expected in the second half. Is there a chance that the organization had him working on something early on? Do they ever go to a guy in his position and say something like,” We know what you are. Don’t worry about numbers. Just see how this works for you.”

    • Doug Gray

      With Valaika, I am not so sure I buy into that…. he has over 1300 PA’s in AAA and hasn’t broken the .700 OPS barrier on the whole, or even come close to it (.673 OPS in AAA).

      I agree with you on the shortstops and almost tossed it in there, but decided to hold off on things like that.

    • sagevic

      Valaika is a guy who seems to have completely abondoned pull hitting. I don’t prefer pull hitters at all but if he could just pull some times his overall production could improve dramatically. Right now he looks like a bench player.

  2. sultan of swaff

    It would be nice to see any of these guys break thru and become a legitimate starter in the majors. I think their’s a high probability of that happening. But at the very least, two or more of this group will be solid utility infielders. That’s nothing to sneeze at. More to that point, it would be nice if any of these guys had the ability to play SS, but I don’t believe that’s the case. That’s why I agree w/ MDron, one of our SS prospects may prove more valuable because of their versatility.

  3. sultan of swaff

    Doug, can you think of any comps for Torreyes as it pertains to contact rates? His seems to be elite given his extremely low K/BB totals.

    • redsam106

      I know starlin castro RARELY swings and misses, I think he had over 40 swings without a miss earlier in the year

    • Doug Gray

      Juan Pierre was the first guy to jump to mind. Redsam mentioned Starlin Castro, but he actually struck out more at the same age and nearly struck out 100 times this year.

      • Doug Gray

        They could be similar. Right now, Altuve is quite a bit thicker, but I can’t say what he was like at 18/19. I think Altuve may have more HR power overall though.

  4. stew

    With such good depth, how do the assignments shake out next year? My guess for the starters:

    AA – Henry Rodriguez (first half; AAA in second)
    HighA – Ryan Wright
    Low A – Ronald Torreyes (promotion by second half of the season)

    • The Duke

      I think Torreyes moves up, he’s ready for more advanced pitching and has a plus glove.

      A-: Ryan Wright
      A+: Ronald Torreyes
      AA: Miguel Rojas/Brodie Greene
      AAA: Henry Rodriguez

  5. MK

    I’m not sure Lohman is in a second base discussion. 2 years ago he forced Hamilton to 2B because he couldn’t make the transition. He failed at 2B offensively and defensively in Dayton to the point where he was sent back to Billings then to Bakersfield where he played mostly shortstop.

  6. Jake

    This whole discussion is for naught if the Reds get dumb and give Phillips a mega-contract. I love the guy, but I hope they’re smart with the future at 2B. Unless attendance goes up 1 million or Castellini spends some of his own money (which wouldn’t be smart of him to do) they don’t have the capitol to sign Phillips.

  7. fromcubawithluv

    “Despite being one of three every day players in the Midwest League during the second half,”

    Did you mean one of three 18 year olds, or something like that? sorry if I am missing something.

  8. sagevic

    Unless the Front Office goes through a major overhaul, I think the middle infield defense is going to remain a priority. So until someone comes up who can really pick it at 2nd base I don’t see the Club parting with Brandon Phillips. Players like Greene and Puckett aren’t going to hit enough to take the position from a stronger defender.

    H-Rod is a really intriguing player since he makes so much contact (and hits well from both sides of the plate). But I don’t know if he can really field at an elite level. If he can make some improvments on the errors then he may be very productive at 2nd.

    If not, then I expect the Reds to re-sign Phillips and wait out Torreyes or switch Hamilton to 2nd providing they have a long-term solution at Short by then.

    • Doug Gray

      I think you are looking further down than you need to. If the Reds are waiting on someone, I think the first guy they would check out would be Gregorius.

      • Nick

        I wouldn’t give Phillips anymore years. Pickup his option and hope Cozarts your SS of the future and let Billy Hamilton play 2B in 2012.

      • Doug Gray

        Billy Hamilton, in no way, shape or form, will be ready to play 2B for the Cincinnati Reds in 2013 (I assume you meant that instead of 12 since you said to pick up his option, which is for 2012). Hamilton is multiple years away still, at best he will be ready for 2014 IMO.