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Top 5 By Position: First Basemen

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Here's the second part of my series, this time focusing on the first basemen.

Follow the jump to see who I have as the top five.

Hunter Morris   School: Auburn   State: AL   Year: Jr.   Height: 6’2’’   Weight: 220

Bats: L   Throws: R   Birth Date: 10/7/88   Last Drafted: 2007 (BOS-2)

 

Year

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

CS

BB

SO

AVG

OBP

SLG

2008

54

211

42

74

15

2

11

49

4

2

29

26

.351

.433

.597

2009

50

195

39

55

7

0

12

33

2

0

29

50

.282

.381

.503

2010

56

236

60

94

17

5

20

67

6

1

24

47

.398

.469

.767


Hunter Morris has been well-known to scouts for a number of years, and Red Sox fans became familiar with him three years ago when he became their second round pick. However, he was considered a tough sign at the time, and he spurned their offer in favor of a career at Auburn. That career seems to be wrapping up in a positive way this spring. After going through a sophomore slump a year ago, he’s set career highs in almost every category this spring while playing a solid first base, and he could be the first first baseman off the board in a couple weeks.

He’s an above-average hitter with solid-average raw power, which is a little lower than what teams usually want from a first baseman, but he’s a solid bet to make it through a system fairly quickly. He’s also an average runner and has an average arm, but he’s not too smooth around first base, though scouts have mentioned he’s improved this year. He should go off the board in either the supplemental first round or the second round.

 

Christian Yelich   Position: 1B   School: Westlake HS   State: CA   Height: 6’4’’   Weight: 190

Bats: L   Throws: R   Birth Date: 12/5/91   Commitment: Miami

Christian Yelich has been one of the more pleasing surprises this spring, as he came out on fire and never stopped hitting. That hitting has come less in the form of raw power and more in the form of balls sprayed all over the yard, though his power is nothing to sneeze at. Entering the year, Yelich seemed to be more of a seventh to tenth round prospect, one that offered intriguing upside, but had never quite put it all together against any sort of advanced pitching enough to warrant an early selection. That’s changed quickly this spring, and he’s head and shoulders above any other high school first baseman in this draft class.

Yelich’s best tool is an above-average hit tool that projects very well, and due to his projectable size, he also profiles for slightly above-average raw power, though that is more debated than any other aspect of his game. Some scouts see him only as a slight first baseman with below-average power and a high batting average. However, he does have a fairly discriminating eye at the plate, and he’s expected to adjust to pro pitching immediately. He’s an above-average fielder at first base, too, but a well below-average arm means he’s not going anywhere else. He’s a solid-average runner, though, so he’s a nice all-around threat, making him the second good athlete stuck at first between him and Hunter Morris. He should go somewhere from the supplemental first round to the early third round.

 

Andy Wilkins   Position: 1B   School: Arkansas   State: AR   Year: Jr.   Height: 6’2’’   Weight: 230

Bats: L   Throws: R   Birth Date: 9/13/88   Seiler Rating: XXX   Last Drafted: 2007 (TEX-25)

 

Year

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

CS

BB

SO

AVG

OBP

SLG

2008

35

136

29

45

11

0

8

38

1

0

20

29

.331

.411

.588

2009

65

235

53

75

18

0

19

58

8

1

48

51

.319

.445

.638

2010

55

201

44

56

14

1

13

62

2

1

41

36

.279

 

 


Like Hunter Morris, Andy Wilkins has been on the scouting scene for some time. Having played high school ball out of Broken Arrow High in Oklahoma, he was expected to be what a first day pick was back in 2007 when the first day lasted six rounds. However, he was committed strongly to Arkansas, sliding in the draft, and he was a contributor for the Razorbacks from day one. He has slid quite a bit in the last month and a half as he’s gone on one of his infamous cold streaks, but when he heats up, he’s a very hard out, and the scouts that have seen him in those periods might be quick to pull the trigger on him.

Wilkins’ tools aren’t exactly optimal, but like Morris, he offers a good amount of production from the tools he does have. At the plate, he struggles against good breaking stuff when he’s slumping, and he’s going to strike out his fair share of times, but he also works over pitchers, causing them to throw large numbers of pitchers. He’s not going to hit for a very high average, but he has plus raw power, a trait that could make him a regular first baseman in the future. He’s less athletic than either Morris or Yelich, as he’s a below-average runner, but he has a solid-average arm and has played third base much of his career. He could go as high as the fourth round to a team that really likes him, but he’s a more likely fit somewhere between rounds six and ten.

 

Mark Canha   School: California   State: CA   Year: Jr.   Height: 6’2’’   Weight: 195

Bats: R   Throws: R   Birth Date: 2/15/89   Last Drafted: Never

 

Year

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

CS

BB

SO

AVG

OBP

SLG

2008

35

63

10

17

2

0

0

6

2

0

12

22

.270

.387

.302

2009

53

205

44

75

17

1

12

43

5

3

27

37

.366

.450

.634

2010

49

183

44

61

11

0

8

60

9

3

28

34

.333

.446

.525


Mark Canha is a physical hitter from the University of California at Berkeley. Canha came to Cal from Bellarmine Prep in San Jose, a school with a long list of baseball alumni including Pat Burrell. Canha wasn’t the most heavily-recruited player in Northern California as a senior, but he wasn’t ignored, either. He falls into that in-between category that so many college players fall in. As a freshman, he was just a late-inning replacement in games that were out of hand, which made it all the more surprising when he exploded as a sophomore offensively when given the chance. Playing first base, he had the best stats of anyone on a loaded team, leading to high expectations for his junior year. Surprisingly enough, he’s somewhat met those expectations.

Starting the year in right field, he started off on a real tear, though he has slowed late in the season. He was moved back to first base fairly quickly in the spring, though it was due more to players available than Canha’s lack of skill. An average hitter, he has above-average raw power and average speed, making him a solid offensive threat. In the field, he has average range for right field, and his best natural tool is a plus arm. He has enough overall skill to become a starter in right or left field for a team, though many scouts think his long-term position is first base, and he could go in the third to fifth round range to a team that really likes him as a signable college junior.

 

Tyler Kuresa   School: Oakmont HS   State: CA   Height: 6’3’’   Weight: 180

Bats: L   Throws: L   Birth Date: 11/17/92   Commitment: Oregon

Tyler Kuresa is another prep first baseman who has really risen this spring to become a legitimate early option for teams in this draft. Like Yelich, he’s more athletic and talented defensively than your average first baseman, and he’s not going to be a huge power threat at the next level. Instead he’s a solid performer who is good in almost every phase of his game, and he’s an advanced hitter for his age. He’s big, tall, and projectable, and that combination intrigues scouts to the point that he could have his name called on day two of the draft, which starts with the second round.

Kuresa’s tools are more of the athletic variety. His hit tool is his best offensive trait, and it’s above-average, meaning he’ll hit for a good average. His power is merely average, though, so he’s not going to be a middle of the order threat on most teams. He’s a potential plus defender with some work around the first base bag, which will make him very desirable, and his frame draws some comparisons defensively to Adam LaRoche, a big target for his infielders. He has an average arm to go along with his good glove, so the all-around package looks to be quite valuable. He could go as early as the fourth round and shouldn’t last longer than the seventh if he’s signable away from Oregon.