Positional Preview – Second Base

Players:

Chase Utley – 35 – MLB
Cesar Hernandez – 23 – AAA (18)
Albert Cartwright – 26 – AA
Carlos Alonso – 26 – AA
Angelo Mora – 21 – A+
Samuel Dove – 23 – A-
Andrew Pullin – 20 – A- (29)
Jair Morelos – 20 – SS

Positional Overview:  True second base prospects are a rare breed, because they must be able to play a physically demanding position and hit enough to be major league regulars.  Unless they can fake shortstop their floors are off of major league rosters, and so it means they are undervalued until they can show that major league ceiling.  The Phillies have been blessed with one of the best second basemen of the past 10 years in Chase Utley.  Utley is now into the decline phase of his career and the search for a suitable replacement is on the horizon.  The system really only has two guys in that discussion; Cesar Hernandez is near major league ready, but there are plenty of questions about whether the bat can play as a major league regular, and further away is Andrew Pullin who is still getting used to playing the position.

Future of the Position:  I wanted to make a case for Roman Quinn shifting over here, but I am going with Andrew Pullin.  I think Pullin is going to hit, and hit with enough authority to keep pitchers honest.  It isn’t big power, but he is going to punish it to the gaps and spray line drives around the field.  There were some questions about Pullin’s speed when he was drafted, but he has been showing plus speed the past two years in the Phillies organization.  He is still really raw in the field, but there is enough athleticism to make it work.  He will likely move slowly for the next few years while he gains feel for the position, but he could explode when he puts it all together.

The Reading Pair:  This year Reading looks like it will feature both Albert Cartwright and Carlos Alonso.  Of the pair it looks like Alonso should get most of the reps.  Cartwright at one point was a promising prospect that had a bit of a breakout in the high-offense environment of Lancaster in the 2010 season, but an Achilles injury later he has yet to recapture the feel for contact.  Alonso on the other hand has more feel for contact, and has good defense to go with it.  Unfortunately Alonso is also 26 years old and doesn’t have enough power to make pitchers respect his approach at higher levels (nor the speed to take advantage of his OBP).  It’s doubtful either make the majors, but they are solid org options at a shallow position.

The Cesar Conundrum:  Cesar Hernandez will likely exhaust his eligibility with a week or two of his next call up and so fall off of many of these lists and discussions, much like Freddy Galvis, so now is the time to talk about his future.  As a second base only player, Cesar is probably more second division regular as a ceiling.  The problem is that many teams don’t have a need for that type of player.  Ultimately his bat profiles more in a utility role, the problem is can he play any other positions.  If he can fake SS and 3B, along with all three OF positions, then he becomes a very interesting bench player who can provide contact and speed.  Otherwise Cesar may be destined to pass through the waiver wire for all eternity.

About Matt Winkelman

Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has previously appeared on Phuture Phillies and The Good Phight. You can read his work at Phillies Minor Thoughts

21 thoughts on “Positional Preview – Second Base

    1. I also like Pullin, by the way. He is potentially a better bat than the other contenders. For a team like the Phillies who are unlikely to contend the next few years, Cesar Hernandez is a satisfactory starter. It sure would be nice if he could learn to play a barely acceptable shortstop.

  1. Pullin’s contact rates, and apparent usable power, definitely gives some reason for optimism, but 7BBs in 2019 PAs means he will have to make some serious adjustments to the approach and in a best case scenario is no less than 3-4 years away.

    I think Cesar is getting prematurely dismissed. He may not be a foundational player, but he seems like your prototypical “second division regular”, which is a bit of a misnomer, since even the best teams field a few of those types in their starting lineup. That being said, as long as Utley is healthy, he’s playing, so I don’t think Cesar will get his chance, which is unfortunate timing (for him)

    1. Unfortunately, whatever the “second division” is, the Phillies are definitely part of it. So yeah, there may be room for Cesar on this team depending on how Utley holds up.

  2. Good to see you so positive on one of my sleepers (Pullin). Doesn’t get enough love around here it seems. But your comments seem a little at odds with your low ranking of him! Does this reflect the overall depth of the system, or did you just not talk about the negatives much?

    1. It is the floor, if Pullin can’t be a regular at second, he isn’t a prospect. That is a really big red flag, one that forced Cesar to 18 on my list. And so, given the depth he dropped behind guys with similar upside, but with less inherent risk

  3. At one time early last year, I had hopes Cesar H. could develop into a Jose Altuve-type player. I am having my doubts now.

  4. Cesar is an amazing fielder; saw him make several outstanding defensive plays recently that I wish Utley still had his maneuverability. He also has underdeveloped speed that he has yet to turn into base-stealing, but the speed is there. His arm from 2nd is more than adequate for that position but I (we) don’t know if it can deal with the throws from SS or 3rd base.

    He has shown throughout his pro career that he has good contact skills at bat. Adding a few bunt hits to gather 3rd basemen in could add to his resume.

    Of course, learning CF doesn’t hurt.

    IMO, he carries more weight to fit the Phils roster than any other utility infielder outside of Galvis. Pullin is young enough to progress to become a good hitter but he might never have the fielding skills to play that middle infield position to match Cesar’s.

    With Frandsen gone, I’m pleased that Cesar has “made” the 25…for now. His hitting is good for contact so the only reason to send him to AAA is to polish his center fielding.

    IMO, it is a mistake that he is UNDERVALUED by some. He should provide, at least, a good sub for Utley in late innings upon occasion and for several “refreshment” games to give Utley a break and keep him strong throughout the entire season. Utley MUST get those breaks to remain effective for the whole season, IMO. Cesar fits “perfectly” for that role as well as for a pinch hitter with contact and speed.

    So…Hail Cesar!

      1. Seems pretty ballsy to me to opt for free agency. He must have an idea he’s going to get picked up.

            1. Thats true….increase his MLB service time and I imagine more in pension $$$$s later down the road.

    1. I like Hernandez and am glad he will come north with the team, but I really don’t think he is undervalued. The author of this summary nails it: he is a little short on offense for a starting 2B on a first-division team, and doesn’t have the positional versatility to be an ideal bench guy. Unless he can play an almost adequate SS, his future is as a below average MLB second baseman on a team which is accepting of same, either because they can’t afford better, aren’t contending anyway, or have so much offense that a below-average 2B doesn’t really matter. If we didn’t have Utley, he’d be fine as our interim 2B until someone above average comes along. He really needs to add power to be an average 2B. His best chance of sticking long-term in the bigs is to improve his D at SS. Yes, he is a good caddy for Utley as is, but that puts restrictions upon who can be the 2nd reserve IF. It has to be a guy who can play both SS and 3B and that also means that you need more pop from the other guys on the bench, in general.

  5. Speaking of Pullin, he had 2 singles in today’s intra-squad game(for some reason the Yankees games were canceled), but the real star on the day for the group 4 offense was Crawford, a HR, double and 2 singles. Also joining the hit parade were Hiciano(2 singles), Cozens(2 triples and a double), L. Greene(2 singles) Astudillo(2 singles) and Grullon and Tocci each with a single. All this damage was done against Francisco 6H and 5R over 2 Inn, L. Martinez 5H 2R 2 Inn, Walter 4H 2R 2 Inn, Ridenhour 3H 1R 2 Inn and Forsythe a clean ninth inning.
    The group 3 squad also had their hitting shoes on as Mora had a double and 2 singles, Carmona 2 singles, Parr 2 singles, Serritella 2 singles; Ferdinand, Pointer, and Mayorga each getting a double; and Lavin , Lino and Phillips each getting a single. This damage was done against Casimiro 9H 7R 4 Inn and Shane Martin 5H 3 R 5 Inn. I will say the wind was really blowing out today so it could have had an affect on some of the results.

    1. Anyone know what happened yesterday in group 3. Did they play or intra-squad? Anybody at the game?

    2. I’m seeing signs that Crawford, who I think already has a 60 or more hit tool, is developing power and he’s filling out. The fielding, smoothness and baseball intelligence are already off the charts. I think you’re looking at the next Phillies superstar. The sky is the limit for him and I think he’ll be our number one prospect by August and a top 30 prospect by the end of the year.

      1. Watching Crawford for a few days over the weekend, its clear that the kid has a very bright future. He’s still very young and will definitely add more muscle but he has IT if you know what I mean. I’m excited for the new season, LWood lineup will be something to watch. Interesting that Grullon got to play in the group 3/4 game. I wonder if the higher ups are considering if they should push him to a full season team. I don’t think they will but that would be a very bold move.

  6. I love that they chose a young player with upside over Fransden. I’m excited to see something new. I get the feeling there won’t be many reasons to be interested this season. Maybe a few young guys will keep me tuning in.

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