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Top 5 Fantasy Baseball Prospects: Second Base (2023)

Top 5 Fantasy Baseball Prospects: Second Base (2023)

Now a few weeks into a new year, fantasy baseball enthusiasts are beginning to prepare for — even participate in — various types of drafts. An important part of that preparation process is digging through the farm systems of all 30 MLB organizations to uncover the next crop of potent producers.

(Each player included still holds MLB Rookie eligibility)

Be sure to check out each installment of FantasyPros’ Top 5 Prospects Per Position series:

Top 5 Prospects Per Position: Second Base

Below are the top-five 2B prospects that could emerge for fantasy managers in 2023.

Michael Busch (LAD)

After turning 25 back in November, Busch certainly seems ready to debut at the show. He absolutely raked over 138 games at Double-A the past two years, hitting .275 with 31 home runs and 33 doubles across 632 plate appearances. That led to a promotion to Triple-A, where Busch kept right on producing with the bat.

In 111 games with Oklahoma City last summer, Busch posted an .823 OPS with 21 homers and 32 doubles. The strikeouts were a bit alarming against Triple-A pitching though, as he whiffed in 26 percent of his plate appearances. On the other hand, Busch does have a grasp of the strike zone. He has walked at a 12.7-percent clip over the last two seasons.

Busch has spent the bulk of his time in the minors at second base, but he did see some reps in left field in 2022. That will only help get his powerful bat to the bigs sooner rather than later. With a strong spring, Busch has a chance to be on the Opening Day roster and hit some long balls for fantasy managers in 2023.

Connor Norby (BAL)

A second-round draft pick in 2021, Norby has flown through the Orioles’ farm system. He saw time at three different levels last year, playing 48 games at High-A and 64 at Double-A before being promoted to Triple-A late last September.

Norby only had enough time to get in nine games at the highest level of the minors. Still, what he did at the plate during that brief stint was very impressive. Across 42 plate appearances for Triple-A Norfolk, the 22-year-old hit .359 with four homers and only five strikeouts. He ultimately wrapped up last season with a combined .886 OPS, 29 home runs and 16 stolen bases between all his stops.

Norby will most likely find himself back at Norfolk for additional tuning to begin the upcoming season. If he continues to swing the bat as he did in 2022, though, it could be a short stay. The Orioles surprised pretty much everyone with their 83 wins last year. They are a club on the ascent, and Norby will only make them better with his excellent bat-to-ball skills and all-fields approach.

Ji Hwan Bae (PIT)

Bae has already made his MLB debut, getting into 10 games for the Pirates over the final two weeks of last season. The 23-year-old from South Korea lived up to his scouting report in that short stretch, going 11-for-33 with three doubles and three steals.

Contact and speed are the areas in which Bae excels. In his first Triple-A campaign last year, he recorded a .289/.362/.430 slash line with 30 stolen bases (38 attempts) and 81 runs scored over 108 games. Bae has swiped 91 bags total in his 315 career games in the minors to go with a .373 OBP and a 10.5-percent walk rate.

The obvious hope here is that Bae progresses his way into a spot among the top part of the Pirates’ lineup sometime soon. The possibility of him becoming a table-setter in the future is quite intriguing. In addition to second base, Bae has seen time at center, left and shortstop. That versatility opens more avenues to a role with the Pirates while adding to Bae’s fantasy appeal.

Edouard Julien (MIN)

Julien could most recently be seen tearing up the Arizona Fall League a few months ago. He was named the AFL’s Breakout Player of the Year after turning in an amazing .400/.563/.686 slash line with five deep drives, five doubles and six stolen bases (six attempts) over 21 games. That performance was preceded by an outstanding Double-A campaign in Wichita and led to his placement on the Twins’ 40-man roster this offseason.

Receiving all of his 508 regular-season plate appearances in Double-A ball last year, Julien put up a .931 OPS with 17 homers and 19 steals. The 23-year-old Canadian has earned a reputation for being an extremely patient, perhaps even passive, hitter, and that was further cemented with an eye-popping 19.3-percent walk rate in 2022. He has worked on becoming a little more aggressive earlier in the count as his development has progressed.

Like Bae, Julien has worked on his defensive skills at various positions. However, he exclusively lined up at second base with some DH duty sprinkled in last year. His bat is what will ultimately carry him to the majors. The Twins will have to find Julien a role if his recent results hold true though this spring and the early part of the regular season.

Enmanuel Valdez (BOS)

The Red Sox actually have a more high-profile prospect at the keystone than Valdez in 20-year-old Nick Yorke. Be that as it may, at 24 years of age with several seasons of pro ball under his belt, Valdez is likely much closer to an initial shot in the big leagues. That shot, as has become a recurring theme here in this article, will likely be as a bat-first utilityman.

Valdez has made at least one appearance at every position on the diamond aside from pitcher and center field dating back to 2016. The vast majority of his experience is at second and third base, but he has become more acquainted with left field recently. Despite largely suspect defensive skills, the Red Sox ensured they would not lose Valdez’s bat to minor-league free agency by adding him to their 40-man roster this past November.

Speaking of that bat, Valdez finished off last season with an overall .918 OPS, 28 homers and 35 doubles. He played 126 games between Double-A and Triple-A, spending time in both the Astros and Red Sox systems. Valdez was brought to the Boston organization in the trade that sent catcher Christian Vazquez to the Astros at the deadline last summer. Time will tell how many at-bats Valdez earns with the Red Sox in 2023, but his attacking swing and solid pop could play well at Fenway Park.

Beyond our fantasy baseball content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – that optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball draft season.

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Nate Miller is a featured writer at FantasyPros and a 9-year veteran of the fantasy sports industry. For more from Nate, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @Miller_RotoDad.

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