Hiura leads list of Top 10 2B prospects
MLB Pipeline will unveil its 2019 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 2019, a group teeming with future sluggers, some on the cusp of the Major Leagues.
Our new list of the Top 10 second basemen has even more players nearly ready for the big leagues, as well as some familiar names, with Keston Hiura and Luis Urias headlining the five holdovers from last year's list.
Urias, Garrett Hampson and Brandon Lowe all reached the Majors in 2018, and they all seemed poised to make a greater impact in the upcoming season. They also account for half of the six total players on the list who are expected to arrive in the Majors in '19 -- a group that could grow even deeper should a few others surpass projections.
Top 10 Prospects by Position
Additionally, many second basemen who made our Top 10 list in previous years have gone on to have successful careers. Among MLB Pipeline's Top 10 lists for position players dating back to 2011, second basemen have been the third-most valuable group with 308.0 Wins Above Replacement, trailing only outfielders (496.7) and shortstops (569.5).
The Top 10 (ETA)
- Keston Hiura, Brewers (2019)
- Luis Urias, Padres (2019)
- Nick Madrigal, White Sox (2020)
- Vidal Brujan, Rays (2020)
- Garrett Hampson, Rockies (2019)
- Jeter Downs, Dodgers (2021)
- Brandon Lowe, Rays (2019)
- Cavan Biggio, Blue Jays (2019)
- Jahmai Jones, Angels (2020)
- Isan Diaz, Marlins (2019)
Complete list »
Best Hitter: Hiura, Urias (70)
Hiura led NCAA Division I hitters with a .442 average as a UC Irvine junior and was widely considered by scouts as the top pure hitter in the 2017 Draft. After posting a .371 average in his pro debut, Hiura reached Double-A in his first full season, hitting .293 across two levels, and then raked in the Arizona Fall League en route to circuit MVP honors. Urias won the California League batting title (.330) and MVP award as a 19-year-old in 2016 and owns a .306 career average in 467 Minor League games.
Best Power: Hiura (60)
Hiura recorded 52 extra-base hits including 13 home runs in his first full season, and he's poised to tap into even more of his plus raw power as he gains experience and refines his approach. He projects to hit for power to all fields, too, thanks to a preternatural feel for barreling the baseball with a short, impactful right-handed swing that consistently produces loud contact.
Fastest Runner: Brujan (70)
Brujan's 112 runs scored and 55 steals were the first- and second-highest totals in the Minors, respectively, in 2018. That he hits for average, reaches base at a high clip and doesn't strike out much provides Brujan with ample opportunities to wreak havoc on pitchers and defenses with his wheels.
Best Arm: Urias, Brujan, Downs (55)
The keystone doesn't require the type of arm strength needed for the left side of the infield, so it shouldn't be a surprise that no player on this list has a true plus arm. That said, Urias, Brujan and Downs all have seen time at shortstop in their respective careers because they have above-average arms.
Best Defender: Madrigal, Hampson (60)
Madrigal could be deployed by the White Sox as a shortstop because he has the hands and actions for the position, but his average arm makes him a better long-term fit at second base, where he could be a Gold Glove Award winner. The same goes for the speedy, slick-fielding Hampson, who has seen time at both middle-infield spots.
Highest Ceiling: Hiura
Hiura's ability to hit for both average and power makes him one of the more exciting offensive prospects in the Minors, and with just one full season under his belt, he's only begun to scratch the surface of his potential. He's a future middle-of-the-lineup run producer and could be the best second baseman in baseball during his prime.
Highest Floor: Madrigal
The White Sox made Madrigal the No. 4 pick in last year's Draft because there's very little doubt that he'll be an everyday player in the Majors. In addition to his aforementioned defense, Madrigal also was one of the better hitters in his class, with an approach and contact skills that will have him hitting atop a lineup for years to come.
Rookie of the Year Candidate: Urias
Urias made his big league debut last August and showed he could do a little bit of everything over parts of 12 games before a hamstring injury prematurely ended his season. Assuming he makes the Opening Day roster, he could have an early advantage in the National League ROY race based on his ability to hit near the top of an order and make everyday contributions on both sides of the ball.
Highest Riser: Downs
Signed by the Reds for $1,822,500 after they selected him with the No. 32 overall pick in the 2017 Draft, Downs posted 13 homers and 37 steals in his first full pro season as a 19-year-old in the Class A Midwest League. That power-speed combo caught the attention of the Dodgers, and they acquired him in December as part of a package for Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and James Farmer.
Humblest Beginning: Urias
Urias was a 16-year-old playing in the Mexican League when the Padres purchased his rights for $100,000 from Mexico City in December 2013. He's quickly proved a bargain for the club, excelling as a younger player at every stop in his career en route to the Major Leagues. He's one of two players on the list who wasn't taken in a Draft.
Most to Prove: Jones
The Angels' second-round pick from 2015 reached Double-A as a 20-year-old last season, but, overall, he hit just .239 across two levels. A shift from the outfield to second base likely played a part in that, and he'll need to make further defensive improvements to remain at the position. Jones does, however, have at least average tools across the board, including plus speed, and he'll carry momentum from a solid Arizona Fall League campaign into 2019.
Keep An Eye On: Kevin Kramer, Pirates
A revamped swing and an emphasis on hitting the ball in the air enabled Kramer to tap into his power last season, as he connected on a career-high 15 home runs and finished second in the Triple-A International League in both average (.311) and doubles (35) before making his big league debut in September.