The prodigal son finally has a shot in the majors, but it remains to be seen if he'll get a real shot or if veteran Mark Bellhorn will be an excuse to keep him out of San Diego. He has proven everything he needs to in the minors, hitting for average and decent power in as he's moved up the system while consistently proving to be a fantastic clutch hitter. Even his down year in Mobile was productive. Barfield isn't flashy in the field and doesn't get as many props as he deserves for his work at second base. While scouts once thought he'd have to move off the position, he has proven he has the hands and instincts to stay at second. At the end of each year, his error totals are low and he consistently makes the plays he needs to make.
2. Sean Kazmar
Kazmar made a smooth transition from college shortstop to professional second baseman and quickly became a solid fielder at the position. He has a tendency to swing for the fences which causes bouts of inconsistency. If he can repeat his swing effectively and shoot for the gaps, his ceiling will be high. He does all of the little things right and is a hard worker. Kazmar was on a muscle-building program this off-season, and it will be interesting to see how he handles the extra poundage.
A contact hitter who has shown an affinity for patience at the plate, Maestrales is the newest prospect on the list. Selected in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft, the switch-hitting Maestrales showed some power last year in three different leagues with the Orioles and Royals systems. To date, his career has been most noteworthy for his ability to get on base and score runs, which makes him a perfect fit for Grady Fuson's philosophy in player development. At 26 years old, he is old to be headed to Double-A, but has an interesting mix of pop and patience.
4. Jodam Rivera
A switch hitter whocan play multiple positions, Rivera, 20, moved to second base last year, and seems to have found a permanent home. He is a singles hitter who has a tendency to be too much of a free swinger. An injury cut his season short in Eugene last year and he wasn't impressive in the Instructional Leagues, but he'll get a chance to develop this season.
It was a Jekyll-and-Hyde year for Cleland. He hit well and showed some pop in Peoria, but struggled when he was promoted to Eugene. He strikes out a lot for a middle infielder and his glove is a major question mark moving forward – 16 errors in 44 games in the field.
Several other players could have fit in, but they have toyed around with multiple positions. You'll see a few of them when we review the system's top five utility players in the future.
Stay tuned for the next installment when we review the top five third basemen.