Continuing the series breaking down the 2012 Northwest League Champion Vancouver Cs by position, today we look at the second basemen. But first, a housekeeping note, the 2013 schedule for yourvancs is up on milb.com. I have added June’s games into the Vancouver C’s Schedule section. Check it out. Gives us something to look forward to during the darkness that is a Vancouver winter.
I may be making a sweeping generalization here, but second basemen at this level are more often than not, failed shortstops. Possibly they’ve grown into their frames and now are a bit too big for short. Or, their footwork, arms, etc were found lacking. Most second basemen weren’t actually drafted as such. Which makes this exercise somewhat difficult, and why a lot of evaluators just lump everyone in as ‘middle infielders’. If you look at the stats page over at milb you only have one listed two bagger. And Eric Phillips, not only played just eight games, but 3 of those were at DH and 5 were at short! So, let’s try and piece together from an admittedly hazy memory who actually played the position in 2012.
As difficult as it is to remember who actually played second during the season, it is just as tough trying to rank them in order in regards to prospect status. The rookie level teams aren’t the last levels where shortstops, third basemen, etc will be asked to move over. Similar to corner outfield spots, prospect rankings in this position are fluid.
One name that has been getting a bit of ink lately is Christian Lopes. He only had a cup of coffee with the C’s, getting the call on the 22nd of August. All ten of his games were at second, so can reasonably say that is where his future lies. Marc Hulet’s write up mirrors most talent evaluators in that Lopes’ main tool is going to be his bat. He’ll be a serviceable second basemen defensively, but if he doesn’t hit then there is not much to fall back on. That being said, the 2011 draftee did have a pretty good first year in pro ball putting up an .801 OPS between Bluefield and Vancouver. Based on his age, having just turned 20, I was originally predicting a return to Vancouver in 2013, but Hulet is saying he’ll be pushed to full-season ball in 2013. That’s a loss for C’s fans, but exciting for the Jays organization. There are not a ton of genuine second base prospects in the system (partly for reasons given above), which makes Lopes worth keeping an eye on. And yes, Christian was a shortstop in high school.
If Lopes does make his full-season debut in 2013 he’ll probably share time with Jason Leblebijian. However, even though, once he was promoted to Lansing, Leblebijian played exclusively at 2nd, he did see more time at short for Vancouver so I am going to save him for that article.
The busiest second bagger this past season was Daniel Arcila with 162 plate appearances. A free agent signing out of Venezuela,
Arcila played shortstop for his three years in the Dominican Summer League, only making the move to second when he moved stateside in 2010. This past year was his fifth in the Jays organization, which is slow progress. After a decent season with Bluefield in 2011, some pundits were predicting a move to full season ball in 2012. That didn’t materialize, and looking at it objectively, Arcila took a step backward with the C’s. The less said about it the better, but a slash line of .176/.242/.291 for an ISO of .115 and a K rate of 30.9% isn’t going to get you a promotion in 2013. As I said at the beginning of this exercise, I wasn’t going to make any ‘he will be released’ predictions, so the best I can come up with is a repeat year in Vancouver for Daniel.
Not far behind Daniel with 22 games at second was Derrick Chung. That’s 22 games at second, he also saw time at pretty much every other position bar shortstop! However, with 65% of his games at second, he makes this list. As per this article, Chung had an interesting college career, moving from shortstop to catcher and back again. Didn’t play any second though, only in pro ball. A 2012 draftee, Chung made his pro debut at 24, which is odd, he must have gone to college late. His debut season was average. He did get on base with a .341 OBP. That is offset by the fact he showed very little pop, with an .083 ISO. Normally I would say this is a surefire case of someone repeating a level, but at his age, and with his flexibility, Chung may be promoted to fill in around the diamond in Lansing. Organizational and diamond filler.
There we have it. Admittedly, not the most exciting crop of players that donned Canadians red, white, and black in 2012, but Christian Lopes is definitely someone to monitor going forward. He’s by no means a surefire prospect but I think you could grade him in the C+/B- range. Will be very interesting, if, in fact he does end up in Lansing next season, to see how he does in the Midwest League. We saw how Kellen Sweeney struggled last year. Hopefully Lopes can excel.