KEEPERS: 2013 Dynasty reload—2B

This is the third of a 10-column series designed to help owners playing in keeper league (KL) and dynasty formats address their weak spots over the next three to five seasons. Beginning now through mid-January, we'll be putting forth by-position lists of our favorite players and prospects who could 1) be relatively available in your leagues; and 2) earn double-digit dollars sometime between 2013 and 2015.

Our filter uses the following criterion:

  • Player must be growth-age—27 years old—or younger as of April 1
  • Player must have earned less than $10 in 2012
  • Player must have accumulated at least 100 AB above A+ ball

It's easy to identify the top players at a given position looking forward—even at 2B—without numbers at our fingertips. But most "established" second basemen are already firmly entrenched on one of your league's rosters. Your ability to identify available breakout-ready talent is a must in order to compete on an ongoing basis.

There's decent sub-$10 depth at 2B, where some of our better picks have seen little or no time yet at the MLB level. But inexperience notwithstanding, names like Jose Altuve and Jason Kipnis had breakthrough seasons in 2012, following less than 250 MLB AB in their 2011 MLB debuts. And particularly given the open 2B opportunity available in a handful of MLB organizations we're betting that a few of the following names will take a step up in 2013 or shortly thereafter.

Following a promising 2011 debut, Dustin Ackley (2B, SEA) took a significant step backwards.  His PX collapsed from 96 to 67 as he posted his second consecutive sub-.250 xBA. A bone spur in his ankle that resulted in post-season surgery is one explanation—and a reason that his SBO remained out of synch with excellent Spd and SB%. Age and pedigree as a #1 draft pick buy him time, but his 2B defense isn't a strength. No longer looks like the" lock" he once was.

If Ackley craters at 2B, watch for Nick Franklin (2B/SS, SEA) to enter the 2B picture soon, perhaps before year-end 2013. Franklin has shown the ability to hit for average and has even flashed above-average pop for an MIF. He struggled in his first Triple-A exposure in the 2H of 2012, when he was still just 21 years old. Franklin moved back to 2B during Arizona Fall League play (.942 OPS), where reportedly he's more comfortable and the Mariners plan on keeping him.

The SD 2B job looks competitive over the next few seasons, though contender upside appears to be moderate. Logan Forsythe (2B, SD) saw most of his 315 AB there in 2012, and earned $8 via a .273 BA, 6 HR and 8 SB.  He hiked his ct% and running game—which looks legit based on a 134 Spd and 80% SB%—while posting an astonishing .873 OPS and 5 HR at PETCO.  Unfortunately Forsythe is also a lefty-killer who could only manage a .222 BA vs RHP.

Diminutive utility Alexi Amarista (2B/OF, SD) will also see some 2B time for the Padres.  A fast-riser at a young age, Amarista showed good contact/speed, and surprising flashes of pop during his 2012 MLB debut—as well as little patience and an unrefined running game.  He's a work-in-progress that could take awhile.

The SD 2B candidate with the most offensive upside is Jedd Gyorko (2B/3B, SD), who has split time at both 2B and 3B while SD attempts to determine his position.  Over the past two seasons at Double- and Triple-A, all Gyorko has done is bang out 55 HR and bat .324.  But he's already 25 years old and his defense is an issue, which has the Padres 2B spot looking like a job-share for now.

Josh Rutledge (2B/SS, COL) took over the Rockies' SS job and ran with it until injuries and a slump slowed him down over the final six weeks of the season. Rutledge needs to improve on a 3% bb%, but his 8 HR and 7 SB over 277 AB were reflective of a 126 PX and 129 Spd, as well as his minor league history. With Troy Tulowitzki healthy, Rutledge is a primary candidate for 2B, where he has more than enough talent to be dangerous in Coors Field.

Gordon Beckham (2B, CHW) just made our filter, with most of his value derived from his HR total.  But even though Beckham was able to nudge his ct% back to his pre-2010 83%, he's showing little else. A third consecutive sub-90 PX points suggests that he's still making weak contact, supported by the fact that HR-happy U.S. Cellular Field hosted 12 of his 16 HR. Three straight seasons of sub.250 xBA also say that little has changed; he's a marginal performer at best.

Now coming off his first MLB season at age 24, Steve Lombardozzi (2B/OF, WAS) has some time to parlay that 87% ct% and 114 Spd into a few decent seasons. A .273 BA that exceeded his xBA by 20 points speaks to his wheels.  But in spite of a career 70%+ SB% in the minors, Lombardozzi has only hinted at a potential running game—and he has next-to-zero patience or power. And as a part-timer, his upside looks limited at this point in time.

In less than 200 AB, Jordany Valdespin (2B/OF, NYM) earned $6 on his physical tools alone as attested to by 8 HR and 10 SB. Unfortunately the rest of Valdespin's game—including a 5% bb%, 77% ct% and erratic defense—leaves plenty of questions.  He's still developing at age 24, but the fact that NYM gave Valdespin only six starts after September 1 speaks volumes as to their immediate thoughts. 

Sometime between now and the spring of 2014, Kolten Wong (2B, STL) is going to get a shot at taking over the STL 2B job.  The player kluge currently sucking up these AB suggests that this will happen sooner than later.  And while Wong doesn't do any one thing exceptionally well, the broad skill-base he displayed in college and at AA Springfield in 2012—including 21 SB, .287 BA and solid defense—suggests that he could hold the job for a while.  Investment-worthy if you need 2B help and have an open reserve spot, particularly on a counting stat friendly team like the Cards.

Scouts insist that Orioles' 2B of the near-future is Jonathan Schoop (2B, BAL) regardless of his .245/.324/.386 line at AA-Bowie. Be aware that Schoop did this at age 20. Twelve HR over his final three months hint that his power is coming; a .446 OBP (63 AB) in the Arizona Fall League suggests that he's figuring things out.

Missed our cut, but worth mentioning:

Darwin Barney (2B, CHC):   Almost earned $10 in 2012, but it was fueled by counting stats from career-highs 548 AB and 7 HR—all at Wrigley. Even with above-average Spd, he only swiped 6 bags, and now at age 27, we don't see growth ahead.  Offers only empty contact; this is his upside.

Donovan Solano (2B, MIA): So after almost beating our $ filter in his MLB debut with 10 SB and a .295 BA in less than 300 AB, why is he not above the fold?  Because there's no hint of these numbers or plus skills anywhere in his minor league history. Has opportunity now, but don't pay for 2012.

Jemile Weeks (2B, OAK):  That 51 PX and just 2 HR in 444 AB speak to a soft 84% ct%. And he doesn't look close to establishing a running game commensurate with his above-average speed. An overmatched bat and mediocre glove has him fast-tracked toward part-time play, unless things turn on a dime.

Johnny Giavotella (2B, KC):  Killed via BA and OBP in the minors—and 2B is up for grabs in KC. But he hasn't kept MLB ct% and bb% above water in almost 400 MLB AB, exposing zero power and no running game. Another 2B whose lousy defense leaves wondering if he'll get many chances to establish his bat.

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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.