2010 MLB Draft Preview: First Basemen Lead By Auburn's Hunter Morris

The first basemen in the 2010 draft class leave something to be desired. A grand total of zero are expected to be first day picks, meaning none fit in the top 50 prospects overall.

Hunter Morris of Auburn and Christian Yelich, a prep hitter from California, stand an outside chance of sneaking into that first day, but both have their drawbacks as unconventional first base prospects. In general, power seems to be lacking from this first base class, though the tradeoff is that they're generally more athletic than previous years.

Morris and Yelich are just a pair of players that have the athleticism to potentially move off the position to a less-demanding position offensively. However, they fit best at first base, and they're expected to be developed that way.

Even in a down year, there's always something to be found, and each of the best first base prospects in the 2010 class brings something different to the table that teams have found worth investing in as the draft quickly approaches.

 

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 Boston made him its second round pick. However, he was considered a tough sign at the time, and he spurned Boston's 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 one 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 Morris is 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 pleasant 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. Entering the year, Yelich seemed to be more of a seventh- to 10th-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 bat 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. 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   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 at Broken Arrow High in Oklahoma, he was expected to be a first day pick in 2007 (when the first day lasted six rounds). However, he had a commitment to Arkansas, slid in the draft, and he was a contributor for the Razorbacks from Day 1. He has continued to slide, going on one of his infamous cold streaks over the last month and a half. 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 and Yelich, and 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 10.

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. 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 began 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 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 2 of the draft, which starts with the second round.

Kuresa's tools are more of the athletic variety. 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 first base, which will make him very desirable; 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 teams think they can sign him away from Oregon.

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