Let’s continue on with our series looking at each position in the 2017 MLB draft. Second base, like first base, is always a shallow pool in the draft. This is because most second baseman in pro ball are shortstops in amateur ball. But I’m looking at players who right now look like pro second basemen. Without further ado, here are the top ten second basemen.
1. Keston Hiura, JR, UC Irvine
Huira is the top dog here, and it ain’t even close. There is a possibility that he will be put in the outfield to move his bat more quickly, but he has played second base, and shows enough skill to be able to stay there long-term. He will need time to refine his defensive work, of course, and his bat may make that impossible. He may be the best bat in college baseball this year. This year, he’s hitting .442/.567/.693, wiht eight home runs, nine stolen bases, fifty walks, and 38 strikeouts. This is a top notch follow up to leading the US Collegiate National Team last summer in slugging percentage.
2. Riley Mahan, JR, Kentucky
There’s a pretty big drop off here. While Hiura is a no doubt first rounder, Mahan more comfortably fits in the late third or fourth round. He’s hitting .339/.396/.626, with fifteen home runs, nine stolen bases, 25 walks, and 52 strikeouts. Last summer, he hit over .300 in the Cape, but with little power. This was really the first season he’s shown big time power. He has some pretty obvious contact issues, and isn’t particularly strong on defense. But if a team think that both his bat to ball ability from the Cape, and his power spike as a junior, are real, they could be tempted to grab him in the second round. Especially in a draft this shallow in college bats.
3. Cole Freeman, SR, Louisiana State
Freeman is probably the top senior in this draft class, which means he’s definitely getting drafted in the top ten rounds. If a team really needs to save money for other picks, he could go as early as the third round. Not that that’s far off from where he could go based on talent. He’s done nothing but hit everywhere he goes, from Delgado CC to LSU, to the Cape. He has a top notch eye at the plate. And run - the dude is fast. He’s should be an average or better defender. His one weakness is his power. But the upside is a poor man’s Luis Castillo. This year, he’s hitting .333/.435/.426, with two home runs, 18 stolen bases, 25 walks, and 18 strikeouts, after hitting .374/.442/.417 with thirteen stolen bases, nine walks, and ten strikeouts last summer in the Cape.
4. Brett Netzer, JR, UNC-Charlotte
Netzer looked like he could fly up draft boards this spring after a great sophomore season at the plate, hitting .384/.461/.555, followed by .283/.360/.424 in the Cape. He took a step back as a junior, hitting .329/.420/.484, with four home runs, 28 walks, and 26 strikeouts. He is still a bit raw around the edges defensively, but he should progress enough to be serviceable there. While he should be a top ten round pick, where depends on how a team values the last two years. He definitely has one of the prettier line drive swings in this draft class.
5. Zach Kirtley, JR, St. Mary's, CA
Kirtley is an average second baseman who plays above his tools. Like Netzer, he slipped from his sophomore to his junior year. This year, he’s hitting .292/.433/.439, with five home runs, 48 walks and 35 strikeouts. He should be picked in rounds 5-10.
6. Cash Case, First Academy HS, FL - committed to Notre Dame
If Case was signable, you could move him up to the top three on this list. But it doesn’t sound likely. Perfect Game noted how well rounded of a student he is, speaking multiple languages and playing multiple instruments. He also has a very nice swing from the left side of the plate. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a first rounder in three years.
7. Cullen Large, JR, William & Mary
Large is an average second baseman with the ability to hit line drives from both sides of the plate. This year, he hit .338/.419/.507, with six home runs, 26 walks, and 37 strikeouts. He’s also a bit of a ball magnet, with 16 HBP over his college career.
8. Deacon Liput, SO, Florida
He will rank higher on many other lists, thanks to his tools and the promise he showed in high school. But I’m skeptical after two meh years in college. He hit .215/.308/.288, with one home run, twelve steals, thirty walks, and 57 strikeouts. He did do much better in the Cape last summer: .260/.312/.438, with three homers, six walks, and sixteen strikeouts. A team who thinks they can fix him will draft him. But it’s unlikely he signs, given he’s only a sophomore.
9. Casey Opitz, Centennial HS, CO - committed to Arkansas
Opitz is a catcher right now, but many think he could be moved to second base because of his size and athleticism. He has a pretty swing from the left side that should lead to high batting average and gap power. If he adds loft, he could explode up the rankings in college. He’s unlikely to sign, but could be a top three round guy in a few years.
10. Corey Julks, JR, Houston
You are unlikely to find Julks in most rankings, but I love this dude. He can play second, third, and the outfield, a college version of Chone Figgins. He has pop, speed, a good batting eye, and contact skills. He also did well at the Cape last year, hitting .279/.350/.376, with three home runs, thirteen stolen bases, seventeen walks, and 39 strikeouts. This year, he’s hitting .335/.426/.572, with nine home runs, fifteen stolen bases, 35 strikeouts, and 35 walks.