We have covered the catchers. We have covered the shortstops. We are staying up the middle with a look at some of the top second basemen in the game as we look at some of the top college baseball players across the country in our countdown to the start of the 2011 season.
MacPhee had a good freshman season at ASU, but he was great as a sophomore in 2010. The switch-hitting second baseman was named the Pac 10 Player of the Year and also earned unanimous First Team All-American recognition after batting .389 with nine home runs, 64 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases to help the Sun Devils reach the College World Series under first-year head coach Tim Esmay. MacPhee also broke a nearly 40 year-old school record with 14 triples. His 1.150 OPS, helped by his .664 slugging percentage, were both team-highs. MacPhee combines with sophomore shortstop Deven Marrero to give ASU one of the youngest, fastest and best middle infield combos in the nation this season.
After earning Freshman All-American honors in 2009, Wright stepped-up his game for the Cardinals in 2010. He hit .366 with 16 home runs, 17 doubles and a team-best 80 RBIs for a Louisville team that was ranked from start to finish last season. The Ft. Wayne, IN native also scored 61 runs with 19 stolen bases and a 1.051 OPS. He committed just three errors for a stellar .989 fielding percentage. Wright’s torrid pace didn’t end when Louisville’s season did. He continued his hot hitting by batting a team-high .381 for the USA Collegiate National Team over the summer. He scored 18 runs with 12 RBIs while starting in 17 of 19 games.
Wong earned WAC Freshman of the Year and Freshman All-American honors as Hawaii’s starting centerfielder in 2009, but a move to second base helped his team reach new heights in 2010. Wong batted .357 with seven home runs, 15 doubles, 40 RBIs, and team-highs of 57 runs and 19 stolen bases to help the Warriors reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four years. Wong was named the WAC Tournament MVP while helping his team to its first WAC Tourney title since 1992. The Hilo, HA native had more success over the summer, when he was named the Cape Cod League MVP after batting .341 for the Orleans Firebirds.
The Closter, NJ native played sparingly in 2008 in his only season at St. John’s, but he was a vital member of the Chanticleers in his first season in Conway, SC in 2010. La Stella led the Chants with his .378 batting average, while posting 14 home runs, 66 RBIs, 63 runs, and 14 doubles. His 1.072 OPS was the second-best among Coastal Carolina batters who combined to hit 111 home runs last season. La Stella also struckout just 15 times with 32 walks in 246 at-bats last season (once every 16.4 ABs), to make him the 29th toughest batter to strikeout in Division I baseball. On top of that, he committed just five errors all season. His .977 fielding percentage is the best by a second baseman in Coastal school history.
Now a junior, Paolini has blasted 37 home runs in his first two seasons at Siena. He was named a Freshman All-American and Metro Atlantic Conference Rookie of the Year in 2009 after batting .430 with 11 home runs. His average came down, but his home runs went off the charts last year when he hit .368 with 26 HR and 64 RBIs. His 26 long balls set a new MAAC single-season record and tied for the second-most in Division I baseball in 2010. Paolini’s .816 slugging percentage (6th in the NCAA) helped him to a whopping 1.255 OPS. The 6’0 slugger, who participated in the inaugural TD Ameritrade Home Run Derby last summer, was also stellar in the field. He committed just four errors and finished with a .985 fielding percentage.
Tokarski’s 2009 season ended too soon, but he had a 2010 campaign that he probably didn’t want to to ever end. He played in just four games in 2009 after breaking his wrist, but bounced-back big time last year to set six Illinois State single-season offensive records. Tokarski was named the Missouri Valley Conference Joe Carter Player of the Year after batting .412 with 84 hits, 70 runs, 25 doubles, 33 stolen bases, and 53 walks. His .412 average wasn’t a school record, but it was good for 36th in the nation, while his .538 on-base percentage ranked 7th nationally. The Redbird leadoff man also has the ISU career stolen base record with 66.
Rahmatulla didn’t get to play during UCLA’s runner-up finish at last year’s College World Series, but the Bruins would have never made it to Omaha if not for his clutch hitting. He infamously broke his wrist in the dog pile celebration that followed UCLA’s June 13 Super Regional-clinching win over Cal State Fullerton. A day earlier, Rahmatulla’s two-out 9th inning home run staved-off elimination to help the Bruins to an 11-7 win in 10 innings. It was all part of a season that saw the 5’11 sophomore bat .328 with seven home runs, 45 RBIs, 13 stolen bases, and a team-best 52 runs scored. The All-Pac 10 second baseman looks to again be a vital cog in the UCLA offensive attack in 2011.
The guy they call “Go-Go” got it done as a freshman in 2010. Gomez earned Freshman All-American status after leading his team as well as all SEC freshmen with a .379 average. He had 30 RBIs with 41 runs, while dropping down a team-best 13 sacrifice bunts as the Commodore’s primary two-hole batter. Gomez also struckout just nine times in 214 at-bats in his first season in the SEC. His first career home run came off LSU All-American closer Matty Ott in the top of the 9th inning in a May 7 game in Baton Rouge. He committed just five errors in the field for Vandy’s Super Regional team.
Hanover is one of the few remaining everyday players from LSU’s 2009 National Championship team. He batted .321 in 53 starts as a freshman in ’09 and then hit .332 with 16 doubles, 35 RBIs, and 49 runs while starting all 63 LSU games last year. Hanover also batted .526 at the SEC Tournament and drove-in the winning run in the championship game win over Alabama. The 5’6 junior also played solidly in the field, with just six errors and a .979 fielding percentage. Hanover has played in the last two Cape Cod League All-Star Games at Fenway Park for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox.
Werman is another classic two-hole batter. He ranked 31st in the nation with a .414 batting average and also dropped down a team-high 15 sacrifice bunts as a sophomore in 2010. His .414 average was the highest by a Virginia player since 1981 and is the fifth-best in school history. Werman scored 32 runs with 23 RBIs and 10 stolen bases, while sporting a respectable .500 slugging percentage. The momentum for his breakout sophomore campaign began during Virginia’s run to the 2009 College World Series, when the 5’7 freshman hit .442 over the course of UVA’s last 16 games. That included a .600 clip in Omaha. Werman committed just two errors in the field in 2010 for Virginia’s Super Regional team.
Muno is one of those guys who has been around forever. He was Fresno State’s starting shortstop as a freshman when the Bulldogs ran to the CWS National Championship in 2008. He earned WAC Freshman of the Year honors that season. Now a senior, he could end his career with more games than anyone who’s ever worn an FSU uniform. Muno batted .329 with seven home runs, 33 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, and scored a team-best 68 runs in 2010. He earned first team All-WAC honors at second base in 2009, but settled for second team last year with Hawaii’s Kolten Wong taking top honors.
Others To Watch…
Ross Heffley – Western Carolina
Riley Henricks – Portland
Matt Jensen – Cal Poly
Ryan Jones – Michigan State
Trevor Knight – James Madison
Kevin Muno – San Diego – The 5th year senior is the older brother of Danny Muno.
Will Muzika – Furman
Michael Ratteree – Rice
As Well As…
Cory Spangenberg – He was named Big South Conference Freshman of the Year in 2010 at VMI after batting .380 with 11 HR, 49 RBIs, and 24 stolen bases. However, he is playing at Indian River CC this year and plans transfer to Miami (FL) for the 2012 season.
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