The next wave of middle infield studs—including Gleyber Torres of the New York Yankees—is quickly making its way to the big leagues.
The days of second base and shortstop being a light-hitting position are over. These positions have changed over the last decade and there are five of the top 50 prospects according to Baseball America at second and short. These are the next big names in fantasy and if you are in a keeper or dynasty league these are the players you should target in your upcoming draft.
Gleyber Torres, SS/2B, New York Yankees
#6 prospect according to Baseball America
Gleyber Torres suffered a season-ending UCL tear to his non-throwing arm in 2017 but is ready to go for 2018. His greatest strength for fantasy purposes will be his ability to get on base, as he owns a career on-base percentage of .360 over parts of four minor-league seasons. Why is getting on base important for our fantasy teams? Let me explain.
The best case scenario for Torres is he gets the starting job at second base and he bats either first or second. If he gets on base in front of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez, he will easily score over 100 runs. He needs to improve his base-running skills, as he’s been caught on 40 percent of his stolen base attempts (60-for-100). That’s awful.
Torres isn’t a power threat but he will be a good source of runs (100-plus potential), average (.270 or better), stolen bases (20-plus, even if he doesn’t improve) and he gets a boost in value in leagues that include on-base percentage. Overall, Torres is the perfect target in keeper leagues because of his upside. He has Dustin Pedroia MVP season upside and could be that caliber of player for years if the Yankees keep this current lineup together.
Willie Calhoun, 2B/OF, Texas Rangers
#36 prospect according to Baseball America
Don’t let his size fool you: The 5-foot-8 second basemen has incredible power. Calhoun has hit 52 doubles, 58 home runs and drove in 181 runs in his past two seasons in the minors. There were only four second basemen to have over 25 home runs last year, Calhoun could be the fifth if he gets the call on Opening Day.
Finding 25-plus home-run power at second base is rare. He isn’t the typical power hitter who strikes out over 125 times, which can lead to a low batting average. Calhoun had an 11.4 percent strikeout rate (which according to FanGraphs is great). That would have tied him with Jose Ramirez and Mookie Betts for the sixth-best in baseball. Calhoun would be in a great ball park for his power and he should be a fixture for 30-plus home runs once he gets an everyday job.
Scott Kingery, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies
#31 prospect according to Baseball America
After hitting just eight home runs over his first two seasons in the minors, Kingery exploded with 26 bombs in 2017. I know what you are thinking but no, he didn’t take anything or put on 25 pounds of muscle over the offseason. All he did was make a slight adjustment to his stance, moving his toes inward. Why does this help for power? It allows him to stay back on the ball and it creates more power on his back leg to explode through his swing.
Why was all of that important? It shows that he can make adjustments and that’s what I want to see in players. Kingery is a speed-first player and I wouldn’t count on him hitting for 26 or more home runs in the majors. He should be a 15-homer and 30-steal guy, which is valuable for our teams. There were only two second basemen last year who hit for 15 home runs and stole more than 30 bases: Whit Merrifield and Jose Altuve.
Brendan Rodgers, 2B/SS, Colorado Rockies
#22 prospect according to Baseball America
The 2015 MLB Draft was loaded with star potential at shortstop. The top three picks in that draft were Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman, and Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers was the top high school prospect in the draft and has not disappointed in the minors.
Rodgers is a career .301 hitter in the minors, should be a lock for 25-plus home runs and could put up some monster numbers in Colorado. He has been compared to former Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and if that’s the case he will be a top 20 pick in fantasy for years. He’s a good player to keep an eye on late in drafts because if he gets the call he could be the NL Rookie of the Year.
Keston Hiura, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers
#47 prospect according to Baseball America
Hiura might be the best pure hitter in the minors. He’s still a year or two away from reaching the big leagues but in dynasty leagues, it would be smart to draft him now. The Brewers are in win-now mode with the offseason moves they made but that should benefit Hiura.
If the Brewers were still in rebuild mode it would be perfect to call him up in 2018. Now that the team is contending it would be smart to keep him in the minors. A .371 batting average is hard to ignore and once he gets the call he should be an add for teams that need help in BA. He’s a smart player to draft in a dynasty league or any style of league that has a minor league system.