M's Prospect Positional Rankings: Second Basemen

The second base position is both like and unlike its mirror across second base at shortstop. The M's have similar depth at second as they do at short. The quality of the depth, however, isn't nearly as impressive. Who might be Adam Jones' double-play partner at the Safe in a few years?



 
Yung-Chi Chen

Opening Day Age: 21
Born: Taiwan
Height/Weight: 5-11/174
Bats/Throws: R/R
2004 Teams: Everett

2004 Positional Ranking: N/A
2005 Positional Ranking: 1

   

2004: .300, 3 HR, 34 RBI, 25 SB at Everett

Breakdown:
Chen's first professional season in the U.S. was a raging success and his solid all-around game is only blemished by the lack of top-drawer power at the plate.

Even so, Chen is a top-of-the-order type hitter and had 25 steals when he left the Everett Aqua Sox for Athens to play in the Olympic Games. Even more amazing than his 25 thefts in 28 attempts is that he ended the season as the league's leader in steals despite missing a full month of action.

Defensively, Chen can handle 3B and shortstop but is probably best suited for 2B in the future.

2005 Projection:
Chen is likely to find himself in the middle of a roster crunch with the two higher levels of "A" ball. His verstility and speed should land him a starting job with the Inland Empire 66ers.


 
Ismael Castro

Opening Day Age: 21
Born: Cartagena, Colombia
Height/Weight: 5-9/178
Bats/Throws: B/R
2004 Teams: Inland Empire

2004 Positional Ranking: 2
2005 Positional Ranking: 2

   

2004: .303, 2 HR, 10 RBI at Inland Empire

Breakdown:
The former Northwest League MVP was off to a great start at the plate when he went down with a torn ACL, MCL and miniscus and missed the rest of the season.

The short 2004 season probably cost Castro a chance to be the top 2B prospect in the system but all is not lost. The 21-year old can regain his form and since speed was never his forte, the team is confident that he will regain the skills and momentum he was building at the time of the injury.

2005 Projection:
Expect Castro to begin his 2005 campaign with the Inland Empire 66ers for the third straight season. A few months more of what he started last April and Double-A could be calling after the All-Star Break.


 
Juan Gonzalez

Opening Day Age: 23
Born: Valencia, VZ
Height/Weight: 6-0/170
Bats/Throws: B/R
2004 Teams: Inland Empire

2004 Positional Ranking: N/A
2005 Positional Ranking: 3

   

2004: .290, 2 HR, 59 RBI, 26 SB at Inland Empire

Breakdown:
Gonzalez was a pleasant surprise after coming over from the Detroit Tigers to the M's in the trade for Carlos Guillen. Batting leadoff for much of the season, Gonzalez hit well over .300 until the final month and handled the shortstop position fairly well.

The 23-year-old handles the bat well and has good speed. Gonzalez must improve his reads as a base stealer and erase many of his 17 caught-stealings of 2004. Defensively, the Venezuelan is best suited to play 2B and will probably make the move this summer.

2005 Projection:
Gonzalez's solid 2004 should be enough to allow him to begin the season as the starting SS or 2B for Double-A San Antonio. Which position he plays will be determined by the rest of the roster and whether there is another viable option at shortstop.


 
Oswaldo Navarro

Opening Day Age: 20
Born: Maracay, VZ
Height/Weight: 6-0/160
Bats/Throws: B/R
2004 Teams: Wisconsin, Everett

2004 Positional Ranking: 5
2005 Positional Ranking: 4

   

2004: .273, HR, 30 RBI, 17 SB at Everett; .211, 7 RBI at Wisconsin

Breakdown:
Navarro started the year in chilly Wisconsin but returned to Everett, where he spent all of 2003, after hitting just .211 with the Timber Rattlers. His second stint with the Aqua Sox was impressive, especially considering the position switch from SS to 2B.

Another classic middle infielder without much power, Navarro does have a knack for finding the base lines and the gaps enough to tally 27 doubles last season. As the 20-year-old matures physically, his power should reach the "gap-to-gap" setting and fit nicely into the second or ninth slot in a lineup.

2005 projection:
Navarro is yet another who could join the ranks of the roster jam at 2B and SS. More likely, however, is that Navarro begins 2005 with the T-rats as the everyday 2B, along side his double-play partner from Everett, SS Asdrubal Cabrera.


 
Michael Garciaparra

Opening Day Age: 22
Born: Whittier, CA
Height/Weight: 6-1/168
Bats/Throws: R/R
2004 Teams: Wisconsin, Everett

2004 Positional Ranking: 4
2005 Positional Ranking: 5

   

2004: .229, HR, 30 RBI at Peoria, Inland Empire

Breakdown:
This past season was pretty much a lost year for Garciaparra. After finishing the 2003 season strong, poised for a breakout 2004, a wrist injury that began to act up early in the season flared up too much for the former first-round pick to handle the bat and he spent the time on the DL instead.

After the ligament was casted and healed, Garciaparra spent the majority of his time at his natural position at shortstop. It's tought to say what positives could come of an injury but the 23-year-old has a clean bill of health heading into 2005.

2005 Projection:
Garciaparra has a lot to prove this spring; a healthy wrist; the ability to play both 2B and SS on a regular but inconsistent basis; and that an improved eye at the plate late last season was not a mirage. repeating Inlande Empire seems likely, at least until someof the above questions are answered.


Others:
  • Nick Orlandos, 24, Wisconsin
  • Jack Arroyo, 22, Peoria
  • Eriberto Menchaca, 24, San Antonio


  • Up Next: Pitchers- Friday, December 10


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