The seventh weekend of the college season is about to get under way, with some teams starting their schedule a day earlier due to Easter Sunday. The Pirates have the #9 and #14 picks in the upcoming June amateur draft. Throughout the college/HS season, leading up to the draft, we will cover the interesting players that are being discussed in the Pirates draft range. There will also be daily notes on past picks by the Pirates who went unsigned. For a recap of the sixth week, check out our article posted here. Our preview of the draft can be read here. The draft takes place June 6-8.
Stanford VS Washington St
Stanford is struggling this year, with a lack of offense being their main problem. That continued on Tuesday when they lost 2-1 to UC-Davis. Mark Appel, the Pirates first round pick from last year, is one of the few bright spots for his team. Right now he looks to be the best among all draft-eligible college players this year. After struggling in his opening start, Appel has bounced back with strong performances in all of his starts since. He is 3-2 1.18 in five starts, with seven walks, 54 strikeouts and a .169 BAA in 38 innings. While Appel isn’t expected to fall to the Pirates again, the Cardinal do have another interesting prospect. Outfielder Austin Wilson is still out with a muscle strain below his elbow. His time to impress scouts this season is getting shorter and shorter as he keeps missing games. He also missed time last Summer due to an oblique strain. He was expected back by last weekend, so he could return shortly. Stanford plays three on the road against Washington State, starting on Thursday, then they have a Monday game against California at home.
North Carolina VS Clemson
Third baseman Colin Moran leads the 1st ranked Tar Heels(22-1) into action this weekend as they play at home against Clemson. The teams will play Saturday through Monday. Before that starts however, NC has a game tonight against Winthrop at home. Moran played Tuesday against VCU and had a rough game, going 0-for-5, with a walk. He was ranked fourth overall by Baseball America among all draft-eligible college players. He’s a strong left-handed bat, that could be available when the Pirates pick in the #9 spot. Through 23 games, Moran is hitting .374, with four homers, 29 RBI’s and a 1.051 OPS. He has drawn 23 walks and has only struck out seven times all year. North Carolina also has Kent Emanuel, the 19th round pick of the Pirates in the 2010 draft. He has a 4-1, 1.17 record in six starts, with two shutouts. Emanuel has struck out 35 batters in 46.1 innings and has held hitters to a .201 batting average. He could be available when the Pirates select in the second round. North Carolina also has a Wednesday game on the road against UNC Wilmington.
San Diego VS Oregon State
Another third baseman to watch is Kris Bryant from San Diego. At 6’5″, 215 he is a little bigger than Moran, and Bryant is a right-handed hitter. Besides the hot corner, he has also played outfield and first base. On Tuesday, Bryant played right field and went 0-for-5 against Cal St Northridge, as his team lost 8-4. He played Monday against UNLV and went 1-for-2, with a double and two walks, splitting the game between center field and right field. He is hitting .364 through 25 games, with 12 homers, 28 RBI’s, a 1.423 OPS and 36 runs scored. San Diego plays a three game series at home starting Thursday against Oregon State.
Gonzaga VS Loyola Marymount
Marco Gonzales from Gonzaga faced off against Bryant last week, and while Bryant got the best of Gonzales(2-for-3,walk), it was Gonzales who won the game. He allowed one run over seven innings, striking out nine batters. He got a no-decision in his previous start, allowing two runs over eight innings, with six strikeouts. Three weeks ago, he threw a complete game shutout against 2nd ranked(at the time) Arkansas, allowing eight hits, no walks and he struck out nine. Gonzales followed that up with four hits and one run over eight innings against Hawaii. He is 4-1, 2.00, with 42 strikeouts in 45 innings this season. Gonzales was ranked 11th overall among draft-eligible college players by Baseball America in their pre-season poll. He has an advanced feel for pitching with a nice four-pitch mix, topping out at 92 MPH with his fastball. His changeup is rated by some as the best in this entire draft class. Gonzaga will play on the road against Loyola Marymount on Thursday night, then the two teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday.
Florida VS Ole Miss
Pitcher Jonathon Crawford will lead the Gators as they play three games this weekend against Bobby Wahl and Ole Miss. Crawford had his start two weeks ago pushed back to Saturday. He looked good through five innings, then imploded in the sixth and seventh innings, allowing a total of five runs on three hits, four walks, two hit batters and he struck out just two hitters. This past week, he allowed six runs in six innings, giving up 12 hits. He is 0-4, 5.67 in 33.1 innings, with 26 strikeouts. He threw 5.1 no-hit innings during his second start, but since then his stock has dropped substantially. He has good velocity, but it comes from a delivery that is described as “not smooth”, which will scare some scouts away from picking him, especially now with the poor results.
Bobby Wahl, a RHP from Ole Miss, is scheduled to pitch Friday night. He impressed scouts early this year with a mid-90’s fastball and strong secondary stuff. Wahl has a slight setback a few weeks ago, stemming from a minor finger injury on his pitching hand, but has pitched outstanding since the problem cleared up. He is 6-0, 1.67 in six starts, with 36 strikeouts in 37.2 innings. He has issued 17 walks, though he has also held batters to a .201 BAA, with just one home run allowed.
Indiana State VS Missouri State
Sean Manaea, is rated by some as the top college pitcher, even ahead of Mark Appel. The left-hander has pitched under some adversity this year and he’s done well in spite of it. Manaea pitched seven shutout innings last Friday, throwing 100 total pitches. The most impressive part, is that he did that with a sprained ankle. He was injured on the last play of his previous start, when he had to make the tag on a play at the plate. A couple weeks earlier, he had his start pushed back eight days due to poor weather that wiped out an entire week’s schedule. On the year, Manaea is 3-1, 0.84 in five starts, with a .159 BAA, 41 strikeouts in 32 innings and a 0.84 WHIP. Indiana St begins a three game series on Friday against Missouri State on the road.
Arkansas VS Mississippi State
Ryne Stanek and Arkansas will play three games against Mississippi State this weekend starting on Friday. It’s a match-up of the #13(Ark) against #16 ranked teams in the country. Stanek took on #6 ranked South Carolina last week and threw a three-hit complete game, allowing just two unearned runs in the 6-2 win. Prior to his last start, Stanek had trouble going deep in games this year and the results were just average. Baseball Prospect Report posted a video of Stanek as a freshman and broke down his delivery. The report, which can be read here, wasn’t good. For comparison sake, here is a video from Stanek’s start a few weeks ago. He has been in the 94-96 MPH range in each of his last three starts. Through six starts, he is 2-1, 2.35, with 20 strikeouts in 30.2 innings. Stanek has allowed 23 hits and issued 14 walks. He will likely start Saturday’s game.
Samford VS College of Charleston
Phillip Ervin, an outfielder from Samford, will play three games at home against the College of Charleston this weekend, one on Friday night and two on Saturday. He went 6-for-12, with three walks in three games against Furman this past weekend. He also had a mid-week game against Alabama in which he went 0-for-1, with two walks. Through 25 games, he is hitting .391, with eight homers, 20 RBI’s and a 1.281 OPS. He is a small, but athletic center fielder, who generates a lot of power despite his size.
New Mexico VS San Diego State
D.J. Peterson from New Mexico plays three games this weekend at home against San Diego State, starting Thursday. Peterson struggled this week, going 4-for-21, with three walks and a homer over his five games. He finished the previous week with a huge game, hitting two homers and driving in eight runs during the Sunday game. On the year, he is hitting .392, with 11 homers, 32 runs scored, 34 RBI’s and a 1.372 OPS , through 23 games. He has played both third base and first base this year, but profiles better at first base.
Fresno State VS Nevada
Aaron Judge, a 6’7″ outfielder from Fresno State has got some good press recently. Conor Glassey did a feature on him, highlighting his pure hitting ability that could translate to a ton of power in the pros. He went 2-for-4 yesterday against Sacramento State, with two singles. Judge is hitting a team-leading .313 in 21 games, with four homers, five doubles and a .936 OPS. His strikeout total, 23 in 83 AB’s, is a little alarming and some scouts question whether he has the bat speed to cover his large strike zone, especially against pitchers that can work inside on him. Fresno State plays three games on the road against Nevada starting Thursday.
Oklahoma VS Kansas
Jonathan Gray turned some heads three weeks ago when he hit 100 MPH during his start against UCLA. He threw seven shutout innings and sat high 90’s all night. Conor Glassey has a writeup on Gray and a few other prospects, where he mentions that Gray’s slider has a chance to be just as good as his fastball. In his start two week, he pitched a complete game shutout, throwing 111 pitches, the last of which was clocked at 100 MPH. The this week, Gray reached 100 MPH for a third straight start, hitting 97 MPH still in the ninth inning when his pitch count reached 120 pitches. Gray has had plenty of mention as a top ten pick recently, some ranking him as high as second. Oklahoma plays three games against Kansas, starting on Thursday night.
LSU VS Missouri
Ryan Eades, a 6’3″ RHP from LSU will face-off against Missouri on the road this weekend, playing a three game series that starts on Friday. In a win over Auburn this past week, he went 6.2 innings, giving up one run on seven hits and two walks, while striking out four. He has recently moved up into the mid-first round range for a few people, thanks to his strong performance this season. He has a 5-0, 1.63 record in six starts, with nine walks and 40 strikeouts in 38.2 innings. Keith Law recently ranked him #15 overall among all draft-eligible players.
Jacksonville VS Mercer
Chris Anderson has just been added to most watch lists. He has been rated as high as tenth in this draft class recently. Baseball America didn’t even have him in their pre-season top 100 draft-eligible college players list, so he has really shot up the draft charts. At 6’4″ 225 lbs., he has the build of a workhorse pitcher, and the stats to back it up. This past weekend against USC Upstate, he threw 8.1 scoreless innings, allowing eight hits, one walk and he struck out ten batters. He is now 4-1, 0.96 in six starts, with 60 strikeouts in 47 innings and a .177 BAA. Jacksonville starts a three game series on the road against Mercer on Thursday night.
The National High School Invitational starts today, with 16 of the best schools in the country taking place in the tournament. Nathan Rode from BA has a preview of the top players that will be participating, along with some names to watch. Among the players attending are Austin Meadows, who some say could go first overall in the draft. Others include:
Jordan Sheffield, a RHP from Tennessee, who hits 97 MPH, with a strong curveball. He is ranked #7 by BA among draft eligible HS players.
Stephen Gonsalves, a highly projectable RHP from San Diego, with good size and low 90’s velocity. He is ranked #13
Nick Ciuffo, a catcher from Florida, with a good lefty bat and strong defensive skills for his age. He is ranked #19
The full article can be viewed here.
MLB Releases New Top 50
Jonathan Mayo has released his new top 50 list for draft prospects today. He has Mark Appel rated first, followed by Manaea, Meadows and Bryant. His #9 ranked player is Jonathan Gray, while #14 is high school pitcher Kohl Stewart. The full list of players can be viewed here.
Another Site’s Projected Top Ten
Crawfish Boxes, a Houston Astros site, does an excellent job of covering the draft. With their team having the #1 pick, the focus is slightly different than with Pirates fans, but the names to watch remain the same. They updated their top ten today and their board currently looks like this:
1. Appel 2. Manaea 3. Gray 4. Clint Frazier(Prep OF) 5 Meadows 6. Bryant 7. Jonathan Denney(Prep catcher) 8. Stanek 9. Ervin 10. Moran