MLB Pipeline will unveil its 2018 Top 100 Prospects list on Saturday with a one-hour show on MLB Network at 8 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.MLB Pipeline ended last week with a look at our top 10 first-base
MLB Pipeline will unveil its 2018 Top 100 Prospects list on Saturday with a one-hour show on MLB Network at 8 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.
MLB Pipeline ended last week with a look at our top 10 first-base prospects for 2018, a group that features four former first-round Draft picks. The top 10 second baseman list, on the other hand, has just one former first-rounder, 2017 No. 9 overall pick Keston Hiura, and exactly half the group was drafted in either the second or third round.
:: Complete 2018 Top Prospects coverage ::
Upper-level experience is also a defining trait of prospects on this list. Seven of the 10 players enter the 2018 season with experience at or above the Double-A level, a group that includes Scott Kingery and Luis Urias, the top-ranked players on this list. The Brewers, meanwhile, are the only team to have multiple players on the list in Hiura and slugger Isan Diaz.
1. Scott Kingery, Phillies More »
- Luis Urias, Padres More »
- Keston Hiura, Brewers More »
- Isan Diaz, Brewers More »
- Nick Solak, Yankees More »
- Shed Long, Reds More »
- Garrett Hampson, Rockies More »
- Max Schrock, Cardinals More »
- Brandon Lowe, Rays More »
- Kevin Kramer, Pirates More »
Hit: 70 -- Urias
Urias has done nothing but hit since signing with the Padres in December 2013, posting a .310 average over his first four Minor League seasons, the latest of which he spent in Double-A at age 20. His bat-to-ball skills are outstanding, as is his feel for using the entire field, and together they point to a future batting champion. What's more, Urias has accrued more walks (153) than strikeouts (135) in his career thanks to an approach and strike-zone discipline that are among the best in the Minors.
Power: 55 -- Diaz
A left-handed hitter with an explosive upper-cut swing, Diaz has power that has translated at every level. He popped 13 home runs during his MVP campaign in the Rookie-level Pioneer League in 2015 and then hit 20 more the following year in his full-season debut (and age-20 season) to lead the Class A Midwest League. Diaz continued to showcase plus raw power in 2017 with a move up to the Class A Advanced Carolina League, connecting on 13 homers in 110 games, albeit with a lower average and an elevated strikeout rate.
Run: 65 -- Kingery, Hampson
Kingery is nearly a plus-plus runner who gets out of the box well and knows how to apply his speed on the basepaths. After swiping 30 bags in his first full season, he nearly matched that total across two levels in 2017, finishing with 29 steals to improve his career rate to 84.3 percent (70 for 83). Hampson also knows how to impact games with his wheels. In his first full pro season, he led the Minors with 113 runs while ranking fourth with 51 steals and tied for fifth with 12 triples.
Arm: 55 -- Urias, Diaz
It shouldn't come as a surprise that both Urias and Diaz sit atop this category, as they've both seen considerable time at shortstop during their respective careers. In total, seven of the 10 players on this list possess at least average arm strength.
Field: 60 -- Kingery, Urias, Hampson
Urias opened eyes with his ability to play shortstop in 2017 before finishing the season back at second base, where he profiles as a plus defender with good instincts, athletic actions and a strong arm. Kingery also has impressive defensive chops at the keystone, while Hampson committed just four errors in 71 games (333 total chances).
Highest ceiling: Kingery
With five tools that grade as average or better, including the best speed and defensive grades on this list, Kingery offers value in every facet of the game. However, it's his power-speed combination that produced 26 homers and 29 steals in 2017 that gives Kingery 20/20 potential in the big leagues.
Highest floor: Urias
With such an advanced approach at the plate, pure hitting ability and the combination of low strikeout and high walk rates, Urias is a safe bet to hit his way up to the Major Leagues. He's shown sneaky pop at times, but how it translates at higher levels will ultimately determine his ceiling.
Rookie of the Year candidate: Kingery
Kingery is the most big league-ready among players on this list after he appeared in the 2017 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and then finished the season in the Triple-A International League, where he posted a .294/.337/.449 slash line in 63 games with Lehigh Valley. Combined, the 23-year-old batted .304/.359/.530 in 132 games between Double- and Triple-A last year.
Highest riser: Kingery
Kingery put himself on the map last season with his power outburst in the upper Minors, totaling 26 home runs in 132 games after he had hit just eight across his previous 197 career games. It led to him finishing the season as MLB Pipeline's top-ranked second-base prospect, a title he'll carry into 2018.
Humblest beginnings: Schrock
A 13th-round pick of the Nationals in 2015, Schrock has since been traded twice, going to the A's in August 2016 and then from Oakland to St. Louis following the 2017 season. Those moves haven't hurt Schrock's performance, as he batted .331 across three levels in 2016, when he also paced the Minors in hits (177), and then posted a .321 clip last season in the Double-A Texas League.
Video: Top Prospects: Max Schrock, 2B, Cardinals
Most to prove: Diaz
Diaz became overly pull happy in 2017 and too often sold out for his power. It led to a .222 average, down from .264 the previous year, and an elevated strikeout rate (26.6 percent), though he still produced 13 homers, 20 doubles and a career-best walk rate (13.6 percent) before undergoing season-ending surgery for a broken hamate bone in his right hand in late August.
Keep an eye on: Esteury Ruiz, Padres
Acquired from the Royals as part of the deal for Trevor Cahill, Brandon Maurer and Ryan Buchter in July, Ruiz endeared himself to evaluators in his first stateside campaign as he paced the Rookie-level Arizona League in average (.350), hits (72), doubles (20), triples (10) and total bases (124) in his age-18 season. He also ranked among the circuit leaders with his 39 RBIs (second), 26 steals (third) and 45 runs scored (third).
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.