Editor's Note: Red Baron has compiled this year's top prospects in three parts, which can be found by clicking on Part I, Part II, and Part III. The post below is a portion of those massive posts, focusing in on a single prospect at a time, which should make a search of any one prospect easier to find. All of our 2016 prospect coverage and write-ups can be found at the Viva El Birdos 2016 Prospects hub.
#17: Darren Seferina, 2B
Opening Day 2016 Age: 22
2015 Level: Low A Peoria
Relevant Numbers: 132 wRC+, .367 BABIP, 8.2% BB rate, 12 3B
So, what's so great about this guy?
Darren Seferina can really hit. In fact, I think Seferina may be a better pure hitter than the Cardinals' current second baseman, Kolten Wong, who can also really hit, albeit in a slightly different way. Where Wong uses a leg kick and outstanding hand speed to occasionally drive the ball much further over the wall than you might expect from a player his size, though, Seferina's own swing puts the ball on a line more often and more consistently, but lacks the pure power upside of what Wong can do.
Seferina is also capable of impacting the game with his legs, as he can take an extra base on a ball in the gaps as well as any player in the game not named Billy Hamilton. Unfortunately, it appears Seferina needs to either develop better timing as a basestealer or simply stop trying to swipe so many bags, as he was caught stealing nearly as often (17 CS), as he was successful (23 SB), in 2015. With the tradition of basestealers in general the Cardinal organisation possesses, you would really think they could leverage some of that knowledge to better coach their minor leaguers on the art of the steal, but that doesn't seem to be the case, with mostly terrible SB/CS ratios up and down the minor league rosters.
In the field, Seferina utilises his quickness better than he does on the bases, with well above-average range for a second baseman. He lacks the arm to play short, but could probably fake it on occasion, if he needed to. I think he could be an impact defender at the keystone, honestly, as he has the hands and range to make not only the routine plays, but plenty that elude the average second baseman.
It's possible Seferina could transition into a utility role, but defensively I think his best fit is playing second everyday. And while the Cardinals are already set at that position for what looks like a good long time, it honestly wouldn't surprise me if we looked around in three years and see Seferina starting, with Kolten Wong moved on the market for a position of need. The over-the-fence power may not be there for Seferina to hit double-digit home runs the way Wong can, but having watched Seferina play a fair amount this season I think he might ultimately end up as valuable a hitter, just with a slightly different approach.
Player Comp: A left-handed version of Howie Kendrick, as an aggressive, slashing line drive machine capable of also playing impact defense at second base.
Note: Seferina was the player I initially forgot in doing these rankings, and forced me to go to 21 instead of 20 players to avoid losing Corey Littrell.