We kicked off our organization-wide look at how each position stacks up in terms of depth a few days ago with catcher. As we make our way around the horn, today we’ll take a look at a position with one player figuring to hold the spot down for the foreseeable future, with a plethora of fill-in options in both the near and far future.
Second base is Ozzie Albies’ barring some drastic set of circumstances. The 26-year-old switch-hitter had an injury-riddled 2022 campaign breaking both his left foot and his right pinky, the latter of which ended his season. Only getting in 64 games, Albies slashed .247/.294/.409. Albies is under team control through 2027 thanks to a team-friendly deal he signed in April, 2019. So he figures to have the position locked down for quite some time. Albies will spend his spring training working his way back from two injuries in order to get back to the all-star peak he showed in in 2021 where he posted a .799 OPS with 30 homers and 109 RBI.
Elsewhere on the 40-man roster, the Braves do have a few options to turn to in the event Albies has to spend more time on the IL. Most notably among the group is Orlando Arcia, who supplanted Albies as the Braves’ primary second baseman when he went down with the foot injury. In 2022, Arcia played in 50 games at second. He also played in one game there in 2021 to give him 51 games played at second for his career. Braden Shewmake and Eli White are the only other players on the 40-man roster with any professional experience at second base, with White being the only one to play the position at the major league level. A super-utility type of player, White started three games at second base for Texas in the 2021 season. While he’ll contend for a bench spot in spring training, he figures to serve as a depth piece.
Shewmake, primarily a shortstop, has played second base, but only at the AAA level and in his college career at Texas A&M. In 2019 with the Aggies, he started 64 games at the second base while in 2022, he started 9 games for the Stripers. While Vaughn Grissom does have 40 games under his belt at second base across his career, he figures to be the Braves opening day shortstop unless he falls out of favor.
In terms of top prospects at the second base position, the Braves are extremely thin. Like, the cupboard is almost bare. However, there are a plethora of decent to good prospects who could eventually make the move over to the position in the future. Out of all prospects on our preseason top-25 list, Luke Waddell was the only prospect likely to have a future home at second base in the future make our list, coming in at 25. While at Georgia Tech, Waddell suited up at second in 28 games and after making his pro debut with the Braves, he has played the position 18 times across two levels. Waddell also played in 8 games at second base with Peoria during the Arizona Fall League in 2021.
Cal Conley, Cody Milligan, Ambioris Tavarez and Diego Benitez are all prospects who could potentially see time at second base during their pro careers. However, Conley has only played 6 games at second since he was drafted by Atlanta so it’s fair to say the Braves believe shortstop is where his future is. As for Milligan, while he gets on base at a decent clip — .371 in his pro career — and he has by far played the most games at second base out of all the prospects mentioned here, there are too many questions surrounding his hit tool to consider him a real option as an everyday second baseman at the big league level. Meanwhile Tavarez and Benitez tend to profile more as third basemen if shortstop doesn’t pan out given their plus arms. Geraldo Quintero, is another prospect to keep an eye on as far as second base goes, however due to his age and the raw nature of his tools, projections on his future home are far from complete.
The Braves, as they have done for many of their recent drafts, went heavy on pitchers throughout the draft in 2022. In the draft, the Braves took a couple of players who could call second base home in the future, albeit guys who have a ton of ground to make up. Atlanta’s fourth-highest position player drafted was Cory Acton out of Georgia. The 23-year-old was drafted in the 9th round and signed for $2,500. Playing in 11 games at second base for the Braves FCL team, Acton slashed .656. He profiles more as a glove-first utility guy with the hope his bat can make some strides. However, given his age and level, he has a lot of work to do in order to get his foot in the door.
16th-rounder E.J. Expositio out of Long Island University and 20th-rounder Keshawn Ogans out of the University of California each spent time at second base after being drafted by the Braves as well. While both guys, much like Acton, profile more as glove-first, Exposito did flash signs of offensive intrigue in college. While at LIU and his former university New York Tech, Exposito posted an .862 OPS across 106 games.