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Top 5 College First Basemen

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Texas Christian's Luken Baker

College first basemen historically do not fare well on draft day, as teams instead prefer to draft premier pitchers or players higher on the defensive spectrum. Only 12 college first basemen have been drafted in the first round in this century, though two of those were last year when Pavin Smith and Evan White both went in the top 20 picks.

This year’s crop of first basemen is an average one and is unlikely to produce a first rounder. This list is based on draft status and was composed of players who have played most of their games at first base. It does not include players who are expected to move to first base as professionals but are not playing there in college, such as Clemson’s Seth Beer.

1. Luken Baker, Texas Christian: Baker this week suffered a broken leg and will miss the rest of the season, marking the second straight year he has suffered a season-ending injury. Despite that, he remains the top college first baseman in this year’s draft class thanks to his prodigious power and advanced hitability. As a righthanded-hitting first baseman listed at 6-foot-4, 265 pounds, he is a tough profile, but his plus raw power is impossible to ignore.

2. Alfonso Rivas, Arizona: Rivas last season ranked third in the Pac-12 Conference in batting and this season is ninth. He stands out most for his smooth swing and mature approach at the plate, in addition to his strong defense at first base. He has also played in the outfield and pitched during his career at Arizona, but is this season exclusively playing first base.

3. Chris Williams, Clemson: Williams emerged as Clemson’s everyday catcher last season and was expected to this season return to that role. But he was sidelined early in the season by a hand injury and has mostly played first base since returning to action. His righthanded power makes him an attractive hitter, but being able to get back behind the plate in pro ball would help his stock.

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4. Willie MacIver, Washington: Like Williams, MacIver was sidelined by injury early this season—in his case a broken hamate. He has since returned to action and appeared at both first and third base. His positional versatility is an asset, as is his feel for hitting.

5. Kole Cottam, Kentucky: After a solid sophomore season, Cottam has this season taken on a larger role in the Kentucky lineup and has put together a big season, hitting .333/.429/.646 with 13 home runs going into the weekend. He is splitting time with Troy Squires at first base and catcher, but regardless of where he settles defensively, it will mostly be up to his bat to carry him.

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