Delino DeShields - April 2012
Photo by Jayne Hansen
The embedded chart shows second basemen in the organization ranked from high to low in terms of OBP. I have noted their current age, the last level at which they played and, if they spent significant time at multiple positions, that information is included as well. I did not include Jimmy Paredes since he has since been moved to the outfield.
Leading the list is none other than Delino DeShields. Not only did DeShields have one of the best OBP in the Astros organization, he also raised his slugging percentage by over 100 points over the prior season while stealing 101 bases. And he just turned 20 in August.
Austin Elkins and Brian Blasik each had strong debut years while 18-year old Juan Santana showed much promise in his first season in the States after putting up an impressive first year with the DSL in 2011. Ruben Sosa spent more time as a DH than as a second baseman in his second season in the organization, but I think that has probably as much to do with finding playing time as anything else. He showed fairly strong on-base skills but little in the way of power.
Jose Martinez didn't fare well in his transition to Oklahoma City for the final 23 games of the season and that brought down his .304/.362/.464 line from his first 107 games at Corpus. He had a successful campaign in the Venezuelan winter league which is a very competitive league, though, so look for him to catch up to the AAA level this season. He is another player whose potential should not be discounted due to his age as injuries, coupled with a family tragedy, sidetracked his career prior to 2012.
Enrique Hernandez, also known as Kiké, had an interesting season. 2012 was his first season to be 100% healthy and to get regular playing time since an ankle injury sidetracked him. The combination agreed with him as he recaptured the promise that he had shown in his 2010 Tri-City season, leading to a late season promotion from Lancaster to Corpus Christi. Kiké will need to balance the aggressiveness he showed in 2012 with the more patient approach he showed at the plate in 2011 when he had a .341 OBP. Hernandez showed that balance this winter as he played in the Puerto Rican winter league, hitting .320/.379/.469 in 39 games.
Two other players to keep an eye on in 2013 are John Hinson (Lexington) and Brandon Wikoff (Corpus Christi) each of whom had injury-shortened seasons in 2012. Hinson was used primarily as a third baseman before his injury, but he played second base in 2011. Wikoff has played wherever needed and profiles as a solid utility infielder.
Monday: First Base
Coming Wednesday: Shortstop