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State of the Yankees’ System: Second Base

The best prospect the Yankees have at second base likely plays shortstop right now.

Portland Sea Dogs vs Somerset Patriots
Jesus Bastidas
Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

It is not common to have a prospect rise through the minor leagues as a second baseman. The Yankees’ current second baseman, Gleyber Torres, came up as a shortstop, and their best second baseman of the last two decades, Robinson Cano, spent a great deal of time at short in his early years as well. The prospects who are purely second basemen usually have limitations. There is something keeping them from being shortstops, whether it is range or throwing arm, and they typically profile as smaller players. The Yankees don’t have a lot of players who play second base exclusively, as they seem to prefer moving players around the infield to increase their versatility. For that reason, there is a very good chance the best second base prospect in the Yankees’ system currently plays shortstop.

Who is the best prospect?

Anthony Volpe has only started two games at second base in his career, and both came in 2021. He was ranked by MLB Pipeline as the top shortstop prospect in the game. Why then is he the best prospect the Yankees have to play second base? Oswald Peraza is the reason for now. If Peraza wins the shortstop job in spring training, it would then be up to him to establish himself as a regular for the long term, and if he did so it would mean the clearest path Volpe had to the Yankee lineup would be at second base. Peraza is the better defender, but Volpe’s range and athleticism would be an asset on the right side, where teams can no longer stack extra defenders on the dirt.

Who will make it to the big leagues?

If Volpe doesn’t count here, there really isn’t anyone in the Yankees’ system who primarily plays second that seems likely to be a major league player. Jesus Bastidas played second base for Somerset at Double-A last year and had a career year, and at 24 he is too young to be ruled out. Listed at 5-foot-10 and 145 pounds, Bastidas had played in the Yankee minor leagues since 2016 and hit 11 total home runs before 2022. He then went off for 18 home runs, showing once again the effectiveness of the development team helping players tap into power. A .750 OPS is not going to help him hit his way past other prospects, however, so we will have to see what Bastidas does for an encore in 2023.

Who is about to move up the prospect list?

Jared Serna and his cousin Luis are both Yankee prospects, but Jared is the position player. At 5-foot-8 and 168 pounds, Serna profiles as a second baseman, and his arm and range will keep him there as he ascends the minors. The right-handed hitter has already received recognition inside and outside the Yankee organization for producing excellent contact while controlling the strike zone. He hammered pitching in the complex league in 2022 and received a brief promotion to Low-A Tampa, which did not go as well. Serna has hit at the rookie levels and now appears as the likely second baseman in Tampa to start 2023, where he will have to keep hitting to move up the prospect lists.

Who could click in 2023?

Keiner Delgado has fascinated Yankee prospect watchers off the strength of a spectacular 2022 season in the Dominican Summer League. Delgado almost evenly split his time between shortstop and second base, but at 5-foot-8 and 145 pounds, and with several shortstop prospects in front of him, his future would appear to be at second. Some internet scouts have compared Delgado to José Altuve, but without seeing him play outside of Instagram posts it is unclear how those assessments were made. If it is the result of his offensive show this past season, it would be more understandable. The switch-hitting Delgado had an outrageous slash line of .310/.504/.506, with 23 extra-base hits and 58 walks against only 28 strikeouts. Expecting him to hit like that when he comes stateside in 2023 would be foolish, but if his numbers are a true reflection of his talent, Delgado will put his name on the radar this year.

Who needs to have a good 2023?

Roberto Chirinos has played all over the infield since the Yankees signed him out of Venezuela in 2017. Physically strong at 5-foot-11 and 172 pounds, the right-handed hitter has not been able to produce offensively as the Yankees may have hoped. In a year shortened by injury, Chirinos did not play above Low-A, and now he will need to compete for playing time and a promotion. Ben Cowles and Brett Barrera are in the second base mix with him, and while Chirinos is versatile enough to play some short or third, he will have to hit his way into a regular role. At 22, he is young enough to come on and restore some of his prospect shine, but he will have to do it soon.

Who could move to second base?

Any of the Yankees’ current shortstop prospects are candidates to move to second base, including Anthony Volpe. The Yankees typically like to play their shortstops at second from time to time to increase their versatility, so it would not be a surprise to see players like Somerset’s Trey Sweeney see a little time there in 2023. If Peraza cements himself as the shortstop in the major leagues, maybe we will see the Yankees make long-term development moves with some of their shortstops, but their value as prospects would remain higher if they stayed on the left side.

Who deserves a mention?

Brett Barrera, drafted in the eighth round in 2022 out of Stanford, has a reputation for hitting the ball hard, and at 6-foot-1 and 217 pounds there is a possibility the Yankees’ development team can help him find more power. It is not clear where he will land defensively, whether at second, third, or both, but he will be in the mix for a lot of playing time in either Low-A Tampa, where he debuted last year, or in High-A Hudson Valley, considering he is coming out of a major college program and will turn 22 early in the season.

Ben Cowles split significant time among third, short, and second in 2022 at both Tampa and Hudson Valley, and, while he was drafted as a shortstop, his ability to move around will likely be a great asset in his development. He’s been a solid offensive player in his first two seasons in the organization, with an OPS above .800 both years, and his athleticism is evident both on defense and on the bases. With the middle infield picture somewhat unclear in Hudson Valley heading into 2023, it would not be a surprise if Cowles played the majority of the innings at second base, but he will likely continue to move around, and his Opening Day assignment will be one to watch.

State of the System Series:

First Base
Second Base
Third Base
Starting Pitchers
Relief Pitchers

Also see:
PSA’s Top 10 Yankees Prospects