July 11, 2020

Fantasy Baseball Outlook: Top Five 2B Prospects For 2011

January 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

 
 

Mariners 2B prospect Dustin Ackley doesn’t project to make much of an impact in terms of power or production, but he should hit for a good average and chip in with some stolen bases after an anticipated mid-season promotion

In articles like this, many websites provide readers with the best overall prospects at any given position, but the intention here is to focus on those prospects that are most likely to provide a significant fantasy impact in the ’11 season; thus, a guy like A’s prospect Jemile Weeks – who is currently blocked by 2B Mark Ellis – is not on my list.

Here is my list of the five second base prospects who will likely have the most impact at the major league level in 2011:

1. Dustin Ackley, SEA
2010 performance: .267, 7 HR, 51 RBI, 10 SB, 79 R (combined stats at AA and AAA)

Ackley is the best of a mediocre bunch at second base (mediocre in terms of potential FANTASY impact in 2011). I have a good friend who owns him in my fantasy league, and when I made an inquiry into trading for him you would have thought he is going to be the second coming of Davey Johnson. He’s not. He was taken with the second overall selection in the 2009 draft, one pick after consensus number-one Stephen Strasburg was taken by the Washington Nationals. He will likely see time in the big leagues in 2011, although he will probably start the year in Triple-A with an opportunity to earn a promotion as early as June or July.

Ackley is atop this list only because Kipnis (#2) may not see the big leagues until late in the year and Lawrie could turn out to be an albatross around the neck of his owners. The former UNC-Chapel Hill standout won’t put up much in the way of power numbers in the big leagues — at least not early in his career — but he should hit for average and steal a couple of bases. I also don’t expect he will drive in many runs due to the fact he will be hitting in the middle of the Mariners lineup; but, I expect the 2010 AFL MVP will have a net positive impact for his fantasy owners in 2011.

He will be a better player in the real world than a performer in the fantasy world. Don’t expect him to be the difference between 6th place and 1st place in your leagues… he may not be the difference between 6th place and 5th place.

2. Jason Kipnis, CLE
2010 performance: .307, 16 HR, 74 RBI, 9 SB, 96 R (combined stats at Hi-A and AA)

The bad news for Kipnis’ fantasy owners is that he will go into spring training blocked by Luis Valbuena and Jason Donald at second base… the good news for his owners is that he’ll go into spring training blocked by Luis Valbuena and Jason Donald at second base. In other words, the competition for playing time at the big league level is negligible. Last year was his first full minor league season, and he made an immediate impact within the Indians system, hitting .307 with 16 HR, 74 RBI and 9 SB at two levels, and ending the year with Akron (Double-A). He will likely start the 2011 season at AAA, but could see time in the big leagues in the second half of 2011.

The main obstacle confronting Kipnis at this point is his defense – he is converting from the outfield to second base. In his first year on the right side of the infield, he committed 23 errors. He will need to focus on his defense if he is to make the jump to the major leagues in 2011… but Indians GM Chris Antonetti has said if Kipnis makes the same kind of defensive improvement in early 2011 as he made in 2010 it is within the realm of possibility he could end up in Cleveland sometime this season.

3. Brett Lawrie, TOR
2010 performance: .285, 8 HR, 63 RBI, 30 SB, 90 R (at Double-A Huntsville)

Lawrie is the guy the Blue Jays received in exchange for RHP Shaun Marcum last month. He has been listed on Baseball America “Top 100 Prospects” list in each of the last two years, but he angered folks in the Brewers front office when he turned down an invitation (directive) to play in the Arizona Fall League this year. That refusal exacerbated the perception of some in the Milwaukee front office who believe he has an acute attitude problem. With Rickie Weeks entrenched at second base in the big leagues, the Brew Crew cut ties with Lawrie when given the opportunity to acquire Marcum.

Based on all of the above, Lawrie needed a fresh start… and he will get one in Toronto. He remains a very solid offensive prospect, but will need to improve his plate discipline (a 118-47 K-BB ratio last year) if he is to capitalize on his natural power. Be wary of a possible position switch during spring training… while 15-20 HR would give him decent value at second base, the speculated move to the outfield would greatly diminish his worth in fantasy terms. Additionally, a switch to the outfield means he could spend additional time in the minor leagues… so owners should keep a close eye on how he is used in spring training. Owners who use a high reserve round draft pick on him may end up wishing they had selected someone else. He should be drafted in fantasy leagues this spring, but caveat emptor!

4. Danny Espinosa, WAS
2010 performance: .268, 22 HR, 69 RBI, 25 SB, 80 R (combined stats at AA and AAA); .214, 6 HR, 15 RBI, 0 SB, 16 R (in MLB with Washington)

Espinosa, 23, grabbed the attention of fantasy owners during his first week in the majors last season, thanks to a two-homer game. But fantasy owners who spent a sizeable portion of their FAAB budget on him lived to regret the acquisition, as he hit a paltry .187 over just 87 ABs thereafter. He seems a lock to be in the Opening Day lineup for the Nationals, but he could hurt a fantasy owners batting average.

His 20-20 performance in the minor leagues (.268, 22 HR, 25 SB and an .801 OPS) indicates better days may be ahead, although his high strikeout rate suggests owners will have to wait awhile to fully benefit from his abilities. As with first base prospects Brandon Allen (AZ) and Anthony Rizzo (SD), Espinosa may experience growing pains and provide a negative fantasy impact in 2011. Caveat emptor!

5. Daniel Descalso, StL
2010 performance: .282, 9 HR, 71 RBI, 8 SB, 86 R (at Triple-A Memphis); .265, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 1 SB, 6 R (in MLB with St Louis)

Descalso had a solid season in Triple-A (Memphis) while exhibiting a good command of home plate (a 48-47 K/BB rate) in 2010. He will be blocked by Skip Schumaker as spring training gets underway, but the Card’s incumbent is considered more of a utility player by most pundits, so Descalso could win the starting job coming out of Florida. His upside isn’t as high as Ackley or Kipnis or Lawrie, but he could prove to be a decent lower-end option at second base near the end of your auction (or draft).

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