Unless the Brewers bring in somebody with major league experience and/or prospects via a trade, the organization doesn't have much depth here, especially at the upper levels of the minors. And that doesn't bode well considering former No. 1 draft pick Rickie Weeks' continuing struggles.
However, recent reports said that top positional prospect Alcides Escobar, who most inside and outside the organization assumed would be the heir apparent at shortstop, could see time at second base during spring training under the tutelage of new bench coach Willie Randolph, who also could play a big role in shaking Weeks out of his developmental doldrums.
The guess is that Weeks or somebody from outside will get the call because none of these prospects appears ready to make that big of a leap forward.
Anyway, here is BrewerUpdate.com's current ranking of the second basemen in the system.
1. Eric Farris
Originally a 42nd-round pick by Atlanta out of high school in Arizona in 2004, he didn't sign and attended Loyola Marymount (Calif.) and became the Brewers' fourth-round choice in '07.
He batted .326 in 63 outings at Helena, finishing third in the circuit with 21 stolen bases and striking out only 22 times in 239 at-bats in 2007. Farris then enjoyed a nice campaign at West Virginia this past summer, batting .293 with 21 doubles, 54 RBI, a .332 OBP and 32 thefts in 42 tries, although he registered 18 errors.
He started slowly, batting .197 in May and .269 in June before hitting .352 and .307 in July and August, respectively, before slumping to .087 (2 for 23) in six playoff tilts.
2. Mike Bell
He belted 10 homers and knocked in 53 runs, but Bell hit only.245 and had a .289 OBP while striking out 83 times and walking 25 times in 124 games in '08. He also finished with 23 errors, second-most to Mat Gamel's 30.
The 15th-round pick in 2005 started his pro career with a .300 average at Helena, dipped to .277 at West Virginia and .257 at Brevard County, giving him four straight drops as he climbed the organizational ladder.
The light-hitting Iribarren has made a couple of short trips to Milwaukee the past two seasons and spent most of his time at Nashville in 2008 as an outfielder. He batted .277 with 17 doubles and 19 stolen bases after hitting .307 at Huntsville the year before.
Iribarren was ripping opposing pitching in the Venezuelan winter league, hitting at a .341 clip in 23 games through Nov. 12. He had contributed three doubles, four triples, two homers and 11 RBI with a .416 OBP.
4. Jose Duran
This 2008 sixth-round selection out of Texas A&M—as a shortstop--batted .221 in 36 games at Helena, knocking in 16 runs and smacking two homers. He suffered growing pains, contributing only a .284 OBP and recording 10 errors.
However, he picked his offense up with a .289 average in August.
This non-drafted free agent from 2006 led the Arizona Brewers with 42 hits, 12 doubles and 59 total bases while hitting .268. He scuffled with 41 strikeouts in 157 at-bats and 12 errors in 44 games, considering it was his second season in the desert after he batted .271 in 2007. But he's only 18 years old and has plenty of time and room to grow.
On the radar
David Fonseca: He started out at West Virginia but scuffled, hitting .212 with three extra-base hits in 85 at-bats through 29 games, striking out 24 times and walking only seven times. He then went back to Helena, where he hit .213 in 2007. Last summer he improved to .262 in 49 contests, contributing 11 doubles, five homers and 22 RBI but whiffed 60 times to only eight walks.