Fantasy Baseball: Highlighting top second base prospects for 2017

If this list is any indication, second base is going through an identity crisis.

Right now in the majors, it's replete with middle-of-the-order bats, but so many of the next wave is more in the Mark Grudzielanek mold.

Um, what year is this?

Of course, it's possible some of the best of that next wave aren't even represented here. Second base has become sort of the backup position for shortstops who don't quite cut it defensively or outfielders who need to broaden their options. And often, that transition happens late in the game.

Indeed, that's the case for the first two names on this list.

Note: This list is intended for a variety of Fantasy formats and thus weighs short-term role against long-term value. Not all of these players will contribute in 2017 -- most, in fact, will not -- but among prospects, they're the names to know.

1. Ozzie Albies , 20, Atlanta Braves

Where played in 2016: Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .292 BA (552 AB), 6 HR, 30 SB, .778 OPS, 52 BB, 96 K

Albies is the only choice for the top spot with the kind of marks he gets from evaluators, but I do worry that his particular skill set -- contact hitting and defense, primarily -- doesn't translate as well to Fantasy. Of course, it takes a special talent to reach the majors at 20, as Albies is projected to do, and we've seen Francisco Lindor overcome similar concerns.

2. Ian Happ , 22, Chicago Cubs

Where played in 2016: high Class A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: .279 BA (488 AB), 15 HR, 16 SB, .810 OPS, 68 BB, 129 K

Happ's offensive profile is promising -- he projects as another Ben Zobrist type, offering plus plate discipline and moderate power and speed -- but whether or not he can adapt to the infield remains to be seen. Then again, a move back to the outfield would give him the clearer path in this organization.

3. Willie Calhoun , 22, Los Angeles Dodgers

Where played in 2016: Double-A
Minor-league stats: .254 BA (503 AB), 27 HR, .788 OPS, 45 BB, 65 K

Calhoun mostly stands out for his home run total, but you won't often find a power hitter at any level who strikes out only one in five at-bats. It suggests he's only scratching the surface of his offensive potential, but as with Happ, defense is a potential drawback.

4. Luis Urias, 19, San Diego Padres

Where played in 2016: high Class A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .333 BA (475 AB), 6 HR, .850 OPS, 45 BB, 37 K

Urias is relatively new to the prospect scene, but the California League MVP looks like another Albies in the making, earning high marks in some of the areas that don't always make for Fantasy greatness, such as contact hitting and on-base skill. But again, a player so accomplished at 19 leaves plenty of room for imagination.

5. Andy Ibanez, 23, Texas Rangers

Where played in 2016: low Class A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: .285 BA (492 AB), 13 HR, 15 SB, .804 OPS, 54 BB, 75 K

Bat-on-ball skills and strike-zone judgment are the defining characteristics for Ibanez, as with most of the prospects at this position, but at 23, his power is a little more developed. He has managed to keep a low profile despite playing on Cuba's last World Baseball Classic team, but if he gets traded, he's on the fast track.

6. Forrest Wall , 20, Colorado Rockies

Where played in 2016: high Class A
Minor-league stats: .264 BA (459 AB), 6 HR, 22 SB, .684 OPS, 41 BB, 97 K

This ranking is a nod to the hype Wall received prior to floundering in the California League, the most hitter-friendly league of them all, and an acknowledgment that numbers don't always validate skills. Then again, part of me wonders if he's getting preferential treatment just to keep the dream of limitless Gump references alive. (You bet he's a basestealer.)

7. Max Schrock, 22, Oakland Athletics

Where played in 2016: low Class A, high Class A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: .331 BA (534 AB), 9 HR, 22 SB, .823 OPS, 31 BB, 42 K

An unknown entering 2016, Schrock hit over .300 at each of his four minor-league stops, turning himself into a trade chip for the Nationals (hello, Marc Rzepczynski ) and putting him in a position to debut for the Athletics this year. Still, he has that Jeremy Reed/Dustin Ackley profile that makes evaluators a little gun-shy -- one built on a high contact rate and above-average (but not transcendent) speed.

8. Travis Demeritte , 22, Braves

Where played in 2016: high Class A
Minor-league stats: .266 BA (455 AB), 28 HR, 17 SB, .915 OPS, 67 BB, 175 K

Look, a power hitter! Sadly, that's about all Demeritte provides, and given the headache Joey Gallo has become for the Rangers, you can understand why they dealt this three-true-outcomes hitter to the Braves for roster-filler last year. Demeritte has to prove he's not a product of the California League and can handle the higher levels, but there's some ability here.

9. T.J. Rivera , 28, New York Mets

Where played in 2016: Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .353 BA (405 AB), 11 HR, .909 OPS, 23 BB, 54 K
Major-league stats: .333 BA (105 AB), 3 HR, .821 OPS, 3 BB, 17 K

At 28, Rivera is the sort of late-blooming curiosity who could disappear just as quickly as he appeared, but anyone who was still playing the waiver wire in late September can attest to his utility as a full-time player. The question now is if he'll play enough with Neil Walker back in the mix, because if he does, he could matter in a Martin Prado sort of way.

10. Joey Wendle , 26, Athletics

Where played in 2016: Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .279 BA (491 AB), 12 HR, 14 SB, .776 OPS, 26 BB, 112 K
Major-league stats: .260 BA (96 AB), 1 HR, 2 SB, .600 OPS, 6 BB, 16 K

Wendle rounds out the list, but it's less because he could be the Atheltics' everyday second baseman and more because we've run out of players who I'm comfortable calling "prospects." His upside is probably on the level of a Scooter Gennett, who appears to be on the way out for a rebuilding Brewers team. Sorry, gang.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Raised in Atlanta by a board game-loving family during the dawn of the '90s Braves dynasty, Scott White was easy prey for the Fantasy Sports, in particular Fantasy Baseball, and has devoted his adulthood... Full Bio

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