Coming into the 2017 season, Jake Burger was the player to watch for Missouri State, and he certainly lived up to that billing. He hit .328/.443/.648 with 22 home runs, and was selected in the first round of the draft by the Chicago White Sox.
But at the same time, MSU shortstop Jeremy Eierman was developing into a superstar in his own right.
To be fair, he had a very productive freshman season, so it’s not as if his development completely came out of nowhere. As a freshman, he hit .296/.336/.504 with 13 doubles, four triples, nine home runs, and 48 RBI.
But his production as a sophomore was on another level. He hit .313/.431/.675 with 15 doubles, 23 homers, and 65 RBI, as the Bears’ offense quickly became one of the most productive in the country from a power standpoint. The increased home run total is what jumps out at you, but it’s more subtle things that really made Eierman a more complete player in his second season.
For one thing, he became much more patient at the dish. As a freshman, he walked just 12 times compared to 67 strikeouts. As a sophomore, he cut his strikeouts down to 61 while also more than tripling his walk total to 41. To boot, he also was hit by 12 pitches (compared to just three in his first season), meaning he reached via some form of free pass 53 times on the season.
He also became a much more prolific baserunner, as he stole 17 bases compared to just six in his freshman campaign. And he took a leap defensively. After committing 21 errors as a freshman, good for a .915 fielding percentage, he committed just ten as a sophomore, raising his fielding percentage to .962.
His hitting tools and athleticism will probably keep him high on MLB draft boards ahead of the 2018 draft, but it would certainly be a feather in his cap if he continues to do more to prove that he could handle shortstop at the next level. At least one high-profile coach thinks he’s got a shot to do so, and he’s confident in Eierman’s ability elsewhere even if he doesn’t end up sticking at short.
“I know he can play third, I know he can play short and he can definitely play second,” UCLA and Collegiate Team USA coach John Savage told Baseball America’s Shawn McFarland for a piece on Eierman over the summer. “He could possibly be a big league utility guy, maybe a big league shortstop.”
Understandably, after his sophomore season ended, Eierman was selected to play for Savage with Collegiate Team USA, and once his time with the national team was complete, he moved on to the prestigious Cape Cod League for the second consecutive summer, giving him a ton of at-bats and innings in the field against elite-level competition.
After the summer, D1Baseball.com placed Eierman 19th on their list of the top 100 prospects, putting Missouri State in position to have yet another member of the left side of their infield come of the board quickly come the next MLB Draft.