Cincinnati Reds State of the Farm: Second Base Doug Gray January 25, 2017 13 Comments In this weeks State of the Farm feature we are going to be looking at the second base position. To see the other positions you can click here. We will continue to move down the line each week as we head towards spring training (SS, 3B, OF, SP and RP still remain). Starting at the bottom rung, Manny Cruz saw a majority of the playing time for the Arizona League Reds. He was a 23rd round draft pick in 2016. The 20-year-old held his own, hitting .272/.355/.400. He had 14 walks and 33 strikeouts in 144 plate appearances. In the field he was consistent, posting a .971 fielding percentage in 245.2 innings. Billings saw a three-way split of playing time between Alejo Lopez, Ty Blankmeyer and John Sansone. All three players saw action in 22-29 games. Alejo Lopez started 29 games at the position and hit .273/.342/.327. The 20-year-old walked more than he struck out. He had 21 walks and just 19 strikeouts in 229 plate appearances. That’s very impressive. He didn’t show much power, but everything else at the plate was quite strong. In the field he posted a .964 fielding percentage. John Sansone was picked up in the 8th round out of Florida State in 2016. He split time at second and third, getting 22 and 20 starts at each, but he profiles better at second in the long run. The 22-year-old hit .285/.336/.435 in 211 plate appearances. He had 12 walks and 51 strikeouts, both rates of which he will need to improve upon moving forward. In the field he had a .927 fielding percentage at second base. Ty Blankmeyer spent 22 games at second base for Billings in 2016. He hit .280/.355/.317 in 95 plate appearances with five walks and 12 strikeouts. You’d like to see slightly more walks, but with a low strikeout rate he could make that work. There’s not much power there. In the field he posted a .978 fielding percentage. In Dayton it was Shed Long who got a majority of the playing time at second. He performed so well that he was promoted in July to Daytona. Between the two stops he hit .293/.371/.471 with 54 walks and 120 strikeouts. He showed plenty of power, hitting 30 doubles, five triples and 15 homers. Long also stole 21 bases in 25 attempts. His game was very well rounded in 2016, showing above-average skills at the plate across the board. In the field he improved as well, posting a .973 fielding percentage in 2016. Before Shed Long was promoted to Daytona, Blake Butler saw a majority of the time for the Tortugas. In the Florida State League he struggled to hit, posting a .222/.271/.306 line with 15 walks and 58 strikeouts over 350 plate appearances. His strikeout rate was fine, but the walk rate was too low and at least in 2016 he struggled to show power. In the field he performed well, posting a .983 fielding percentage. Pensacola saw a two-man rotation at second base. Alex Blandino and Brandon Dixon split the action at the position for the Blue Wahoos. Blandino saw time at multiple positions, but most of it came at second base. At the plate he hit .232/.333/.337 in 465 plate appearances. That came along with 55 walks and 114 strikeouts. An injury in the spring may have led to a disappointing season as he never seemed to get the bat going once he returned from the disabled list. His walk rate was strong (12%), but his lack of power and his high strikeout rate (25%) both need to improve moving forward. In the field he had a .977 fielding percentage. Brandon Dixon played a little bit of everywhere, but saw significantly more time at second base than anywhere else. At the plate things were quite interesting. He hit .260/.315/.434 with 30 walks and 137 strikeouts in 461 plate appearances. At times he showed big time power, but he had long stretches where he struggled to hit. His walk rate was a tad low, but it was his strikeout rate of 30% that was a real concern. Second base is probably his best position overall. In the field he posted a .962 fielding percentage. Louisville saw two guys get the bulk of the playing time at second base. Only Juan Perez still remains in the organization. He played a little bit of everywhere, but second base was his most played position. It’s also the position that he seems most likely to fit at in the future. The 24-year-old hit .276/.310/.444 with 20 walks and 85 strikeouts in 415 plate appearances. He also added in 16 steals in 22 attempts. That walk rate is lower than you’d want to see, but his strikeout rate was solid enough at 20%. Perez showed off a little bit of pop and speed. In the field, at second base, he posted a .973 fielding percentage Overall Thoughts There’s some potential in this group, though Shed Long is the only Top 25 prospect among them. Alejo Lopez switch hitting, high contact profile is intriguing among the rookie ball second basemen. The Double-A crew of Alex Blandino and Brandon Dixon both have shown things that could push them into the Top 25 with some improvements and possibly even higher. In Triple-A, Juan Perez doesn’t seem to jump out in any particular aspect, but he’s solid just about everywhere. There’s some depth at the position, and there’s probably some guys who are playing shortstop right now that will also slide into this group in the future. This isn’t the strongest position in the system, but it’s certainly not the weakest. Grade: B- Top 2nd Base Tools [private_subscriber] Tool Top Player Hitting Shed Long Current Power Brandon Dixon Raw Power Brandon Dixon Speed Shed Long Defense Alejo Lopez [/private_subscriber] 13 Responses Steven January 25, 2017 If there are no other roster moves, Herrera and more than likely Renda or Alcantara will be in Louisville. Herrera will get the majority of the starts there with Renda, Alcantara and Perez potentially making occasional starts. Both Renda and Alcantara can play multiple positions, but I don’t see both making the 25 man roster. That strengthens the position greatly. Greenfield Red January 25, 2017 I like the ratings so far. I think the overall grade for the Reds is about a B maybe a B+. That would be consistent with the 8 to 10 ranking overall. I think the Reds missed some opportunity to further upgrade last year. There is still time. I hope they do. Bradkon21 January 25, 2017 I am intrigued with Alejo Lopez. Defense, approach. Hope to see him as everyday 2B in Dayton. Matthew O'Neal January 25, 2017 Hate to see him go out so ugly, but hope the Reds can find a way to get Datdude out of town. Gotta see what Herrera can do at the MLB level on a daily basis. If Herrera isn’t who the Reds think he is, who slides in as the next Reds secondbaseman? Maybe Suarez when Senzel is ready? Or Peraza if Vincej proves his hitting last year wasn’t a fluke? Can’t wait to see how this log jam plays out! Chris in NC January 25, 2017 I’m glad somebody else sees this like I do. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… Eugenio Suarez has all-star potential as a middle infielder. At third, he’ll never be more than average. Chris in NC January 25, 2017 In an internal evaluation like this, I agree that Dilson Herrera and Tony Renda should have been included in the mix. Herrera bumps that grade up significantly. CP January 25, 2017 I agree that it is helpful to consider Herrera, but perhaps he was left out due to ML service time he has already had…. Doug Gray January 25, 2017 Herrera isn’t a prospect, thus isn’t a “part of the farm”, even if he’s in the minor leagues. Semantics, I guess, but it’s how I’ve always handled these. Gaffer January 25, 2017 But if Herrera was a prospect still, he is clearly top 10, maybe as high as 7-8. He might even crack top 100 overall, depending on how you view his age at AAA. He has never had a bad season and had 1 great one. Peraza again if still a prospect would be slightly higher. That’s not bad for the future of 2B. Heck, I just convinced myself to realease BP. Krozley January 25, 2017 Given this series is titled “state of the farm”, and Herrera projects right now to start in Louisville, it might be a little more accurate to include him in this post even if he has lost his prospect status. With him included, 2B may be more of a B+. Not a criticism, just a suggestion. Arnold Ziffle January 25, 2017 It is amazing how this isn’t the strongest position in the minors with all of the 2B/3B that Walt Jocketty collected. Rightly so, Shed Long is head and shoulders above this group. This is a huge year for Alex Blandino. Even if he cannot beat out Herrera, he could play himself back into being a very good trade chip as a former first round draft pick. Dixon will probably leave the way he came, as trade filler. Not much at AAA, excluding Herrera, that is why it is a big year for Blandino. Nothing in his way to move up a level if he takes the bull by the horns. Again, excluding Herrera, a B- is fair. As DG noted, a couple of SS could find their way over to 2B this year. Personally, I’d trade for a quality young SS, like Jurickson Profar, and move Peraza back to 2B. William Kubas January 29, 2017 Arnold Ziffle January 25, 2017 It is amazing how this isn’t the strongest position in the minors with all of the 2B/3B that Walt Jocketty collected. Rightly so, Shed Long is head and shoulders above this group. “This is a huge year for Alex Blandino. Even if he cannot beat out Herrera, he could play himself back into being a very good trade chip as a former first round draft pick.” Dixon will probably leave the way he came, as trade filler. Not much at AAA, excluding Herrera, that is why it is a big year for Blandino. Nothing in his way to move up a level if he takes the bull by the horns. Again, excluding Herrera, a B- is fair. As DG noted, a couple of SS could find their way over to 2B this year. Personally, I’d trade for a quality young SS, like Jurickson Profar, and move Peraza back to 2B. I would agree that 2017 is a turning point in Blandino’s career with the Cincinnati Reds. Blandino must assert his control of AAA pitching, hitting both for average and power. I yearn to leave the Cincinnati Reds as their progression from the major league aspect has been on a downward slope since Leake’s Game 4 start in 2014. Another organization could be an inflection point for Blandino either in his major league career or his exiting professional baseball as a failed player. GO STANFORD CARDINAL Bill January 25, 2017 Another option at 2B is John VanMeter acquired from the Padres following the Rule V draft although I noticed he spent the majority of his time at 3B. I was also surprised to notice that Tony Renda spent more time in the OF that at 2B this year. While top prospects, like Shed Long at 2B, seem to get the lion’s share of playing time at their primary positon, it seems to me the Reds are really emphasizing positional versatility amongst the next tier of prospects. Perhaps this is an effort to develop bench players through our minor league system.