Second base had long been an oddball position where organizations were willing to sacrifice defense for offense, hiding players who weren't a great fit anywhere else on the diamond. It's still that to an extent, but the shift ban that took effect in 2023 changes the calculation a bit.

My read on the position now is that there are three bonafide prospects and about 15 others who are kind of interesting -- but only kind of. Either the ceiling or the floor is too low for me to bet on any becoming an impact player in Fantasy. It's always possible. The future is unknown, and not every player who's a big deal in the majors was also a big deal in the minors. But what we know about them now earns a resounding "meh" from me.

  • Top Prospects: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | P

So beyond the big three -- which are Termarr Johnson, Ronny Mauricio and Jace Jung -- I've kind of just chosen my favorites to round out the top 10. Others might instead opt for the Orioles' Joey Ortiz, the White Sox's Jose Rodriguez, the Reds' Carlos Jorge, the Guardians' Juan Brito or the Dodgers' Jorbit Vivas. All of the previously mentioned players are defensible picks -- but none of them has a loud enough tool to allow for a surprise breakthrough. Maybe Jorge with his speed, but he's still pretty far off.

If you're looking for even more of a dice throw, the Orioles' Mac Horvath and the Twins' Luke Keaschall have upside to speculate on, but since both were only drafted in 2023, we hardly know who they are yet. Maybe by next year's list, one will have made himself into something.

Note: This list is intended for a variety of Fantasy formats and thus weighs short-term role against long-term value. Not all of these players will contribute in 2023 — most, in fact, will not — but among prospects, they're the names Fantasy Baseballers most need to know.

1. Termarr Johnson, Pirates

Age (on opening day): 19
Where he played in 2023: Low-A, High-A
Minor-league stats: .244 BA (349 AB), 18 HR, 10 SB, .860 OPS, 101 BB, 120 K

Johnson was billed as some sort of hitting savant -- one worth drafting fourth overall despite his short stature (5-feet-8) and limited defensive profile --  but his first full professional season didn't totally back it up. Then again, he was facing pitchers much older than him and cut way down on his strikeouts in the second half. The .422 on-base percentage is itself reason for enthusiasm.

2. Ronny Mauricio, Mets

Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2023: Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .292 BA (490 AB), 23 HR, 24 SB, .852 OPS, 35 BB, 97 K
Majors-league stats: .248 BA (101 AB), 2 HR, 7 SB, .643 OPS, 7 BB, 31 K

Mauricio's first major-league hit was the Mets' hardest-hit ball of the year, and he was 7 for 7 on stolen bases during his short stay with the big club. So by now, the impact potential is pretty clear. Detractors will point to his tendency to swing at anything and everything, which may well prove to be his downfall, but he has always kept his strikeout rate respectable.

3. Jace Jung, Tigers

Age (on opening day): 23
Where he played in 2023: High-A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: .265 BA (486 AB), 28 HR, .878 OPS, 79 BB, 139 K

The brother of Josh Jung and 12th pick in the 2022 draft initially struggled to live up to that hype, but the younger Jung found his yum about midway through 2023, batting .290 (75 for 259) with 16 homers and a .940 OPS over the final three months. Lending credence to the hot streak is how it carried over to Double-A, and he may just cruise to the majors now. Unfortunately, it's Comerica Park that awaits him.

4. Thomas Saggese, Cardinals

Age (on opening day): 21
Where he played in 2023: Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .306 BA (555 AB), 26 HR, 12 SB, .903 OPS, 52 BB, 144 K

With no clear No. 4, I'm going out on a limb here for Saggese, who has punched so far above his weight the last two years that I can't help but believe it's real. His tools are blah, but his feel for the barrel and angles off the bat are top shelf. In his final 73 games at Double-A, even split between two organizations, he hit .351 with 20 homers and a 1.076 OPS.

5. James Triantos, Cubs

Age (on opening day): 21
Where he played in 2023: High-A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: .287 BA (317 AB), 4 HR, 16 SB, .755 OPS, 35 BB, 39 K

Though the power production has been a total letdown in the minors, Triantos' prospect stock appears to be on the rise again after a stellar showing in the Arizona Fall League in which he collected 11 extra-base hits and swiped nine bags in just 22 games. He's going to be hit-over-power, clearly, but he's showing the makings of being sort of a less extreme Nico Hoerner, who himself has found a way to impact the Fantasy game.

6. Connor Norby, Orioles

Age (on opening day): 23
Where he played in 2023: Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .290 BA (565 AB), 21 HR, 40 2B, .842 OPS, 57 BB, 137 K

It's not clear exactly why enthusiasm has slipped for Norby given that his numbers were nearly as impressive as during his breakthrough 2022, and part of me wonders if conclusions were reached prior to him hitting .309 with 13 homers and a .940 OPS over his final 65 games. Then again, his exit velocities are underwhelming, his pull-side power won't play so well at Camden Yards, and he's blocked several times over with the Orioles.

7. Xavier Edwards, Marlins

Age (on opening day): 24
Where he played in 2023: Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .351 BA (370 AB), 7 HR, 32 SB, .886 OPS, 52 BB, 30 K
Major-league stats: .295 BA (78 AB), 5 SB, 3 2B, 3 BB, 14 K

The 2024 season will be a pivotal one for Edwards, who looked pretty good when given a chance to get his feet wet this year but may get pigeonholed as a utility player if he can't force his way into the lineup early on. His profile is a throwback, offering speed with virtually no power, but the new steals-friendly environment might allow for such a player to succeed again if the hit tool translates.

8. Ryan Bliss, Mariners

Age (on opening day): 24
Where he played in 2023: Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .304 BA (540 AB), 23 HR, 55 SB, .902 OPS, 58 BB, 119 K

It's the eye-popping numbers that earn Bliss his place here. The scouting reports are more grounded for the 5-foot-6 player, who had the benefit of playing in some of the most hitter-friendly venues before the Diamondbacks traded him. But his power production was still respectable with the Mariners, and since his speed isn't really in doubt, there's hope for a positive Fantasy outcome even if the hitting is something of a mirage.

9. Nick Yorke, Red Sox

Age (on opening day): 21
Where he played in 2023: Double-A
Minor-league stats: .268 BA (444 AB), 13 HR, 18 SB, .785 OPS, 51 BB, 122 K

The Yorke hype train got a full head of steam when he hit .325 with a .928 OPS between two levels of A-ball in 2021, but the momentum may be running out. This past season was a rebound of sorts after a dreadful 2022, but it took some fairly drastic swing changes to make it happen -- the sort that have Yorke selling out for power at the expense of what looked to be his best offering, batting average.

10. Justin Foscue, Rangers

Age (on opening day): 25
Where he played in 2023: Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .266 BA (462 AB), 18 HR, 14 SB, .862 OPS, 85 BB, 70 K

With each year since he was a surprise first-round pick in 2020, Foscue has slipped a little further down my second base rankings, and a big reason why is that he should have graduated to the majors by now. The fact he hasn't reflects how poorly he fits for the Rangers, being blocked by Marcus Semien at second base and not really profiling anywhere else. The plate discipline remains enticing if a door were to open somehow.