Astros MiLB Position Review: Second Base
Now that the season is over and the MiLB awards have been handed out, we will review each position in the minor league system. This week we take a look at the second base position. We know second base is locked up for years to come but having depth never hurts.
Kemp was drafted by the Astros in the 2013 MLB draft. He has been as advertised throughout his minor league career hitting for average and posting very good on base percentages. He doesn’t have a ton of power but makes up for it with a great understanding of the strike zone which has led to good walk and strikeout rates. He has started to see time in the outfield but it appears his position in the MLB moving forward should be second base. Kemp had a solid 2016 MiLB campaign hitting above .300 and getting called up to the Astros.
2016 Stats: 69 G, .306 BA/.389 OBP/.396 SLG, 9 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR, 24 RBI, 10 SB, 34 BB/34 SO (AAA)
Birk was drafted just this summer in the 13th round out of Texas A&M. Birk seemed like the prototypical Astros selection. A guy who hits for average, draws walks, and has a bit of power. Following the draft he was assigned to Tri-City where he hit .287 with a .393 OBP and 23 RBI in 36 games. He got promoted to Quad Cities and hit .323 in 7 games with the River Bandits. Birk has a chance to start next year in High-A, which would be a good step for him. With Kemp “graduating” from prospect status, Birk might be the best second base prospect in the Astros ssytem.
2016 Stats: 43 G, .293 BA/.385 OBP/.455 SLG, 13 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 31 RBI, 5 SB, 21 BB/16 SO
Tanielu was a 14th round selection in 2014 and has steadily moved through the system. In 2015 he hit .308 with 6 HR, 70 RBI putting himself on the radar a bit. He came out of the gate on fire in Lancaster this season hitting .372 in the first 35 games and earning a promotion to Corpus Christi. With Corpus he only hit .253 but did have 47 RBI in 95 games. He played a lot of third base early on but with JD Davis at third for Corpus, Tanielu started 69 games at second compared to just 19 at third for Corpus Christi.
2016 Stats: 130 G, .285 BA/.327 OBP/.409 SLG, 24 2B, 3 3B, 11 HR, 76 RBI, 29 BB/82 SO
THE REST OF THE PACK
The Astros signed Valdez for $450,000 in 2015 out of the Dominican Republic. This season he made his Astros organizational debut with the DSL Astros. He showed plenty of promise as he posted very good walk and strikeout rates at just 17 years old. He also hit for some power and was a run producer for his team. Scouts noted his line drive, contact approach at the plate and that showed this season.
2016 Stats: 55 G, .245 BA/.342 OBP/.438 SLG, 16 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 34 RBI, 27 BB/35 SO
Mizell was another late round pick (32nd round) that has had some success in the Astros system. After a decent draft season Mizell followed it up with a solid 2016 campaign. While he may not be off the charts, he was a solid contributor for a very good Lancaster Jethawks team.
2016 Stats: 100 G, .261 BA/.312 OBP/.430 SLG, 16 2B, 7 3B, 10 HR, 44 RBI, 13 SB, 23 BB/98 SO
As stated above, Birk might be the Astros top second base prospect and has a chance to start out in High-A next season and build on what he accomplished this season. Valdez might make his full season debut but should at least be stateside. It will be fun to see how these two guys progress next season.
Not the deepest position in the Astros system but a list of solid contributors. There will also be some shortstops who won’t stick there and slide over to second base adding more depth.
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**Photo Credit: Kiel Maddox/Fresno Grizzlies**