We have looked at the up the middle guys (catchers, shortstops and second basemen) in our first looks at some of the top players in college baseball. Now we’ll look at some of the top corner men, starting with the hot corner.
Rendon’s first two college seasons have looked like this: 2009 – .388 Avg., 20 HR, 14 doubles, 72 RBIs, .702 slugging percentage, 1.163 OPS, named National Freshman of the Year and Conference USA Freshman and Player of the Year. 2010 – .394 Avg., 26 HR, 12 doubles, 85 RBIs, .801 slg. %, 1.331 OPS, 14 SB, named C-USA Player of the Year and C-USA Male Athlete of the Year for all C-USA sports, and National College Baseball Player of the Year. Rendon has also walked 96 times with just 45 strikeouts in his first two years. He’s a player you just know a guy like Theo Epstein (and obviously others) would love to get his hands on. Did I mention the fact that the City of Houston proclaimed June 29, 2010 as “Anthony Rendon Day“? The only thing Rendon is yet to accomplish in his already legendary college career is a trip to the College World Series.
After two seasons, Skole is already one of the top power hitters in Georgia Tech history. He enters the upcoming campaign with 37 long balls, which ranks 11th in the Yellow Jacket record books. He also placed third at the inaugural TD Ameritrade Home Run Derby last summer. Skole earned first team All-ACC honors last year when he batted .335 with 20 HR, 15 doubles, 63 RBIs, and a 1.119 OPS. Like Rendon, he is disciplined at the plate. Skole had 45 walks with just 34 strikeouts last year, which was a drastic turn from his freshman season when he fanned 69 times with just 27 BB. Skole still hit .302 with 17 HR and 58 RBIs that year to earn Freshman All-American status. He will be called upon to produce early this season as one of two returning position playing starters in the GT line-up.
Maddox was a do-it-all guy who started all over the place in his freshman season last year. He made 29 starts at third base, 19 as Florida’s DH, 14 at first base, and even one start at catcher. The SEC Freshman of the Year typifies the wealth of young talent back from the Gator’s 2010 College World Series team. Maddox led Florida with 17 home runs , 72 RBIs and .587 slugging percentage, while his .333 batting average was second to Matt den Dekker’s .352. He also drove-in fellow freshman Nolan Fontana with the winning run in the 10th inning of game two of the Super Regional win over Miami. In addition to consensus Freshman All-American honors, Maddox also received third team NCBWA All-American status. That made him the first Florida freshman since 1996 to be so honored.
The school may be small, but Tanis has played big in his first two seasons at Mercer. He earned Freshman All-American honors by hitting 11 home runs with 35 RBIs and a 1.090 OPS in 2009. The 6’1 Tanis stepped his game up last year when he batted .388 with 22 HR, 25 doubles and 88 RBIs, while setting new school records with 102 hits and 197 total bases. His 88 RBIS tied for second in the nation, while his OPS hit a whopping 1.183. Tanis’ efforts helped Mercer to the Atlantic Sun Championship and a berth in the NCAA Atlanta Regional. He also earned third team All-American honors.
Martinez had a breakout sophomore season last year when he belted 21 home runs (up from nine in 2009). He batted .295 with a team-best 69 RBIs for a Hurricane team that fell to Florida in the Super Regionals. He missed the last game of that Super Regional in Gainesville due to injury and spent the summer rehabbing after surgery on his leg. Martinez had fouled several balls off the leg over the course of the season and had to have a lump removed as a result. With the loss of first round MLB Draft pick Yasmani Grandal, Martinez will have even more responsibilities in the line-up in 2011.
Hinson is a guy who had question marks coming into the 2010 season. He played a little as a freshman in 2008, batting .264 with one home run and 11 RBIs. He missed all of 2009 with a back injury, so just what he would bring to the table in ’10 was a great unknown. Hinson played in all but two of Clemson’s 69 games last year though, batting .351 with 17 HR and 75 RBIs. All of those numbers were the second-best on his team for the College World Series participants. He also led Clemson with 25 stolen bases, while sporting a 1.008 OPS.
Like Clemson’s Hinson, Leeds missed what would have been his sophomore season in 2009. Like Hinson, Leeds came back with a vengeance in 2010. He was named the Southern Conference Player of the Year after batting .326 with 21 home runs, 23 doubles and 88 RBIs. His RBI total tied with Mercer’s Tanis for second nationally. Leeds had an 1.123 OPS, and was hit by pitch 22 times. His efforts earned third team All-American status and helped the Cougars reach the Myrtle Beach NCAA Regional. Leeds was named to the All-Regional Team and then went on to participate in the TD Ameritrade Home Run Derby at Rosenblatt Stadium last summer.
Now a junior, Buechele was OU’s triple crown winner as a redshirt sophomore in 2010. The 6’0 slugger batted .359 with 17 home runs and 65 RBIs for the College World Series bound Sooners. He was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year in 2009 after sitting out the 2008 season. The son of former Major Leaguer Steve Buechele slugged a team-best .630 with a .438 OBP. He walked just 20 times, but was hit by pitch 19 times. Buechele has been good in the field as well. In his 128 starts at OU he has committed just 12 errors.
Esposito broke through as a sophomore last year, raising his batting average from .287 to .359. He also belted 12 home runs with team-highs 64 RBIs and 31 stolen bases, while leading the SEC with 25 doubles. Esposito batted .476 (10-for-21) with five RBIs at the Louisville Regional to help Vandy reach the Tallahassee Super Regional, where he batted .364 with two home runs and five more RBIs. The 6’2 sensation had big moments during the regular season as well. He had a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 17th inning to beat Louisville and also set a school record by reaching base safely 15 straight times in an SEC series against Mississippi State.
There are infielders who play outfield, but Woodward is the rare combination of a corner infielder who also plays centerfield. He enters his senior season at CC with a school record .502 on-base percentage and ranks second in the record books in three other offensive categories. Woodward hit .324 with five home runs, four triples, seven doubles, 35 RBIs, and 75 runs scored. He also stole 55 bases to finish behind only teammate Rico Noel’s 56 for the DI national lead. The 6’2 Markle, IN native swiped 32 of those bags and hit .457 in Big South Conference games. Woodward was drafted last year in the 15th round by the Oakland A’s, but opted to return for his senior campaign.
Renda earned Freshman All-American honors last year after batting a team-best .373 with three home runs and 37 RBIs. At 5’9, Renda started all 54 Cal games and also led his team with 81 hits, 55 runs, 21 doubles, and four triples, to help Dave Esquer’s Golden Bears to the NCAA Tournament. The Cal lead-off man batted .555 (5-for-9) with three runs and two RBIs in Cal’s two games at the Norman NCAA Regional. Renda was drafted in the 42nd round by the Los Angeles Dodgers coming out of high school.
Others To Watch…
Joe Corfman – Toledo
Brian Hernandez – UC Irvine
Micah Johnson – Indiana
Sherman Johnson – Florida State
Richie Pedroza – Cal State Fullerton
Rob Segedin – Tulane
Chris Taladay – Central Florida
Joe Terdoslavich – Long Beach State
Corey Thompson – East Carolina
Jantzen Witte – TCU
* Note: There are several corner men who played both first and third base in 2010. If you don’t see one of them on this list you may still see them on our list of top first basemen.
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