Friday on the Farm: The top five second basemen in the Texas Rangers system need to be flexible
(Hickory Crawdads/Ashley Salinas)
The future at second base for the Texas Rangers was wide open a week ago, with perhaps as many as four of the team’s top 10 prospects candidates to man the position for years to come.
Then, Sunday arrived. Monday made an impact, too. Once the deals for free agents Marcus Semien and Corey Seager became official Wednesday, the future at second base and shortstop for the Rangers was set.
Semien signed a seven-year, $175 million deal to play second base. Perhaps if Seager hadn’t signed to be the shortstop for 10 years and $325 million, second base might still be open with Semien at shortstop.
The prospects at both positions have seen massive roadblocks appear on their paths to the major leagues. A shortstop was anticipated. Both a shortstop and second baseman, though, seemed like a long shot.
What lies ahead is continued development for the prospects at both position, but they will likely also be asked to try other positions, to become more versatile, to learn reach the majors and still be productive.
The Rangers could also trade some of their prospects up the middle.
Their futures have been shaken up, but they’re still valuable pieces.
“He develops into a top-50 prospect in baseball,” the official said.
The Rangers remain incredibly high on Foscue, who reached Double A Frisco in 2021 despite a rib/nerve injury that kept him out nearly two months. Short on at-bats, the Rangers sent him to the Arizona Fall League and saw him hit five home runs with a .944 OPS.
Some in the organization believe Foscue could hit 30 homers in the majors and fit in the middle of a lineup. If his development track continues in that direction, the Rangers will find a position for him, say, first base.
Duran is like many of the middle infielders on this list in that he has played other positions. He can play shortstop and spent time at third base in the Arizona Fall League without any issues.
He has a big fan in Michael Young, who knows a thing or two about moving around. As is the case with Foscue, as long as Duran hits, he will find his way onto the Rangers’ roster at some point.
He and Foscue will likely start 2022 at Frisco after Duran spent all season in High A with the Yankees and then the Rangers after the Joey Gallo trade. Shortstop Josh Smith, who could also be moving positions, could return to Frisco as well.
Of all the infielders in the system, Wendzel is the most versatile. He played shortstop in 2022 and ranked last week as one of the five best shortstops. Some think his best position is third base, and that might be where he has the most experience.
One of the things that Rangers coaches raved about during spring training was Wendzel’s athletic ability. Wendzel also played outfield and first base at Baylor.
So, don’t be shocked to see him roaming the outfield at Dell Diamond, home of Triple A Round Rock, to start the season. He needs to stay healthy and give his bat a chance at becoming more consistent.
The Rangers didn’t take it easy on Saggese, their 2020 first-round pick. He had never played professional baseball, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, but sent him to Low A Down East early in the season despite barely being 19.
He was batting only .174 on June 19, but that’s when he found his footing. Saggese finished the season batting .256 with 10 homers, a .373 on-base percentage and an .834 OPS.
Saggese played his most games last season at third base, two more than he spent at second. He also played shortstop, so he’s got a decent handle on the whole versatility thing. He’s a long way from the majors, but the more he can learn now the better.
So, there are tools for the Rangers two work with as they continue to develop the 20-year-old, who entered the season ranked by Baseball America as the No. 27 prospect in the Rangers’ system.
Defensively, his arm profiles better at second base, though he has played some third base. He has a high ceiling and time to develop, but he needs to be better in 2022.
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org