The Yankees have had solid depth at second base for a few years now. David Adams and Corban Joseph have served as the cornerstone of that depth. Now that Adams has had significant time in the majors and Corban Joseph suffered from an injured, ineffective 2013, the prospect landscape has changed a bit for the Yanks. They drafted Robert Refsnyder in the 5th round of the 2012 draft. So far he seems to have been a steal. Then, in 2013 they drafted Gosuke Katoh and Derek Toadvine, again increasing their depth.
In the wake of Robinson Cano’s already controversial free agency, there may soon be a significant organizational vacuum at the position. The Yankees do have a couple of in house options to take over at second base, but all have question marks and flaws. David Adams had a rough go of it in his first MLB season, and Corban Joseph has been hurt. Beyond that, Jose Pirela is still looking to make a name for himself.
1. Gosuke Katoh, “G-Kat,” 2B, 6-foot-2, 180-pounds, LHB, 18 – A thin, wiry, tall frame with some now power and great patience. He’s also one of the best defensive second basemen in the entire draft. He had a .310/.402/.522/.924 slash line with six homeruns, five triples, and 11 doubles in 2013. He has even been worked out at SS for the Yankees but it remains to be seen if his arm will become strong enough to move across the diamond. Regardless of that he is already a fan favorite and will look to build upon his fantastic first season as a pro. Highest level: Rookie ball. Will start 2014 at: Staten Island. Estimated arrival: 2018. Ceiling: Excellent fielding, 13+ HR, .315+ average at second base. He could increase this ceiling if he bulks up some. Floor: Flop. Likelihood of reaching ceiling: Low-intermediate
2. Robert Refsnyder, “The Ref,” 2B, 6-foot-0, 195-pounds, RHB, 22 – Finished the season with a .293/.413/.413/.826 quad slash and had 6 HR and 21 SB. He hasn’t showed much power so far in his career but he has shown great patience and the ability to hit for high average. The only players on this list above him in terms of level are Jose Pirela and Corban Joseph. Both are solid but if Refsnyder really starts to tap into his potential this year he should be able to eclipse them. He is a high contact hitter who can also impact the ball well. In addition Refsnyder has some speed which has so far resulted in some stolen bases. He’s got great instincts so there’s a good chance he could continue to steal based at higher levels. His fielding was a bit rough this year but he really picked it up in the second half. Most believe he should be able to stick at second base. Highest level: High-A. Will start 2014 at: Double-A. Estimated arrival: 2015. Ceiling: 10+ HR, .300+ average all-star second baseman. Floor: Backup second baseman, fourth outfielder. Likelihood of reaching ceiling: Intermediate.
3. Angelo Gumbs, ” Gumbsy,” 2B, 6-foot-0, 175-pounds, RHB, 21 – He’s now 21 years old and he’s still at Low-A and not producing. He has shown some promise in years past but has had difficulty staying healthy. Finally healthy in 2013, he did not show the same promise anymore. That said he still has tools galore and if he can put them all together he will rocket through this system. He is number three on this list for sheer potential. He’s still only one season removed from a .272/.320/.432/.752 season with seven homeruns, so it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that he could have a rebound season in 2014. Highest level: High-A. Will start 2014 at: High-A. Estimated arrival: 2017. Ceiling: 25+ homeruns, 30+ SB, .270+ average, dynamic fielder. Floor: Flop. Likelihood of hitting ceiling: Long-shot.
4. Jose Pirela, 2B, 5-foot-11, 210-pounds, RHB, 24 – You’ll be hard pressed to find a guy with a better tool profile and performance who goes as unnoticed as Pirela. This year as a 23 year old in Double-A and Triple-A Pirela hit an impressive .274/.358/.413/.771 with 10 HR, 27 doubles, and 5 triples. He destroyed the Venezuelan Winter League this year and will look to capitalize on that next year in Triple-A. Beware though, as he is a minor league free agent at the end of every season. As soon as he sees an opportunity elsewhere that the Yankees won’t give him, he’s gone. The Yankees also don’t appear too willing to give him that opportunity with recent trades and free agent signings of some middle infielders. Highest level: Triple-A. Will start at: Triple-A. Estimated arrival: 2015. Ceiling: 10+ HR, 20+ steals, solid defense. Floor: Utility infielder. Likelihood of reaching ceiling: Low, he’ll most likely end up a utility infielder.
5. Corban Joseph, “CoJo,” 2B, 6-foot-0, 180-pounds, LHB, 25 – CoJo’s time is running out at this point. He had a series of injuries which limited his opportunities in 2013. When he was healthy he wasn’t particularly effective. Hopefully next year he can get completely healthy and then we’ll see what he’s really got. Other than that though he has some solid players coming up behind him and if he does not shape up quickly he could easily be passed. At his best he is a relatively powerful second baseman who has the patience of a saint at the plate. He’ll hit in the .270’s and have an OBP which is close to 100 points higher than his average. Obviously the type of player the Yankees like. He also is a lefty swinging second baseman which is relatively rare. Highest level: Brief stint in the majors. Will start 2014 at: Triple-A. Estimated arrival: 2014. Ceiling: 15+ homeruns, .270+ average, .350+ OBP, adequate second baseman. Floor: Quadruple-A. Likelihood of reaching ceiling: low-intermediate.
6. Bryan Cuevas, 2B, 5-foot-10, 179-pounds, RHB, 20 – Cuevas is an interesting player. He was an international free agent signed prior to 2012, and quickly made a name for himself in the DSL by hitting .315/.350/.465/.816 with 3 HR, 14 doubles, and eight triples in 2012. That was enough to bring him stateside in 2013, where he hit .269/.324/.387/.711 in his first season stateside. He also stole six bases. He’s more of a long term project but he has solid tools, great defense, and if he is able to develop some power he could become a legit prospect. Highest level: Rookie. Will start 2014 at: Rookie/Staten Island. Estimated arrival: impossible to tell/2019. Ceiling: Every day second baseman. Floor: Never hear from him again. Likelihood of reaching ceiling: Long shot.
7. Derek Toadvine. 2B, 5-foot-10, 175-pounds, RHB, 21 – Speed is the name of the game for Toadvine, although his numbers don’t yet show it in the minors. In 2013 he hit just .237/.329/.279/.608 with seven SB and six CS. Not the best debut for him but it’s a small sample size and most believe he could perform better. His speed is elite and if he can translate that into more stolen bases he will move much quicker in this system. It also wouldn’t hurt if he started getting more extra base hits. He is an excellent fielder. Basically he’s a guy with some excellent tools but has some things to work on. Highest level: Staten Island. Estimated arrival: 2017. Ceiling: 45+ SB, 5 HR, .300+ average, slick fielding second baseman. Floor: bust. Likelihood of approaching ceiling: Low.