The Los Angeles Angels have a problem that's rising closer and closer towards the surface as Spring Training exhibition games get nearer and nearer. The second base position has a load of question marks for the 2015 season. No one really seems to know who will be on the lineup card with "4" next to his name on Opening Day.
The depth at second base is there, but the Major League talent has some questions. We give you a look at who could be the second baseman on Opening Day. We also go deep into the lurks of the Angels farm system, and give you an idea of who could be a dark horse from within the organization. First off, we'll give you a look at players who have departed from the Angels, which may have created the current hole at the position.
Howie Kendrick: Coming off the two best years of his career, Kendrick was sent packing up to Los Angeles in exchange for starting pitcher depth, and elite prospect, Andrew Heaney. The trade was sensible, but resulted in the obvious hole left at second base as soon as Kendrick was gone.
Gordon Beckham: He came, impressed, and then was gone suddenly. After giving the Angels a breath of fresh air in the infield, Beckham opted for free agency, and went back to South Chicago after a better offer from his previous team.
Shawn O'Malley: O'Malley saw better opportunities on the horizon, and may be kicking himself due to it. He elected for free agency as opposed to being optioned to Triple-A. The Seattle Mariners are going to give him a shot as a utility man, but he'll have to beat out younger talents to take over any starting position.
Tommy Field: He had no options left after being taken off the 40-man roster, and was picked up by Pittsburgh. Though he'd fit into the category of "AAAA player," Field would have given the Angels more depth and options for the second base position.
Taylor Lindsey: For some time, Lindsey was listed as the top prospect in the Angels farm system. Things cooled off, and his stock dropped. He was sent packing in the Huston Street trade, and landed down the I-5 in San Diego. He was nearing Major League time, which could have given the Angels an organizational player at the second base position for 2015.
Eric Stamets: Stamets is one of the Angels top prospects, and brings maybe the best infield glove across the minors to the Angels. He also has electric speed, matching up against Mike Trout in that department. However, he has limited power, and is coming off a season where his bat was quiet in Double-A. He's a shortstop by nature, and would only provide a nice glove with speed, as opposed to an every day starter at this point in his career.
Kyle Kubitza: After being acquired from the Braves for Ricardo Sanchez, many saw him as the guy who would take over third base in 2016 when David Freese's contract was up. A cool thing though, is that he's getting much closer to the Major Leagues than any other top prospect in the Angels farm system, and can play multiple positions. He's never played second base, as a natural second baseman, but it wouldn't be surprising if they gave him some reps during Spring Training to see exactly where he's at and if he can potentially move for some time and play second base every day.
Alex Yarbrough: The Angels top second base prospect was named the Texas League Player of the Year, and put up outstanding offensive numbers, as he has his entire career. It's expected he'll be the second baseman of the future for the Angels, but not for another year or two. However, a strong Spring Training and proof that he's developed far enough, Yarbrough could potentially work his way into a starting spot in 2015.
Sherman Johnson: There was a reason Sherman Johnson was invited to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee. No player in the Angels farm system reached base more frequently than Johnson over the full course of an entire season. He hasn't seen Double-A time yet, but like we said, he gets on base, and was invited to play with the big boys for a reason. He can also play shortstop, and was a Gold Glove winner in college at third base.
Roberto Baldoquin: The Angels want to take it easy with Baldoquin. He should start the 2015 season in High-A or Double-A, where he can fully develop. However, we saw Yasiel Puig make the jump to the Dodgers big club in less than a year and remain at a high competition level at the Major League level his rookie and sophomore seasons. Baldoquin is at the bottom of the list when it comes to our depth chart, but there is a slim possibility he surprises everyone, and moves from shortstop to second base to become an bench player at the end of this next season. Weirder things have happened.
THE TOP PICKS:
Josh Rutledge: Rutledge came over from the Rockies for flame thrower, Jairo Diaz. His offensive numbers have always been helped by Coors Field as he's only hit .230/.274/.354 while not being a mile high. He's still at a young stage in his career, and could be a big surprise moving forward. As of right now, Rutledge is the obvious pick to be the Angels Opening Day starter at second base.
Taylor Featherston: If the Angels want to keep Featherston, he'll have to be on the active roster throughout the entire 2015 season, thanks to the Rule-5 Draft. Featherston is a top notch prospect, but may not be ready to take over a Major League starting spot just yet. If the Angels can quicken his development during Spring Training though, he could turn heads and become an every day man for the Angels, even as early as this year.
Johnny Giavotella: The dark horse pick. Royals fans created a trend on Twitter, called, "#FreeJohnnyG," hoping the Royals would keep him with the Major League team. He's put up similar numbers at the Major League level as Josh Rutledge, but has only played roughly a quarter the games. If there's a guy that could really shock the Angels world, it's Giavotella.
Grant Green: The best walkout song in baseball could be the hidden gem for the Angels. His versatility on the field could mean he makes the Opening Day roster, and he's ready to work his way into a starting role, particularly at second base. Last season, Green started off hot, batting .359/.373/.469 in his first 22 games, but then falling off, going 4-for-35 in his last 21 games of 2014, posting a .114/.111/.143 slash. Green needs some fine tuning, but could also be a surprise for the second base position.
Taylor Blake Ward is a Senior Publisher for Scout.com, and can be found on Twitter, @TaylorBlakeWard, as well as InsideTheHalos.com, @AngelsOnScout.