The third weekend of the college baseball season has come to a close and we saw some power from one of the top draft-eligible third basemen on Friday and Sunday. Mark Appel showed why he will likely go well before the Pirates make their first selection with the 9th overall pick, and then select again with the 14th pick. The two third baseman we are following closely, Kris Bryant from San Diego and Colin Moran from North Carolina, both are getting on base at a high rate, but only one has shown any power. There was some good and bad news from the other two players on our watch list. Jonathon Crawford had no-hit stuff during his start last week, but he was hit around this weekend and the velocity reports have not been good. Stanford’s Austin Wilson hasn’t played since leaving the first game but there was some good news with his timetable to return. We have also added an 11th player to the list below, after Marco Gonzalez from Gonzaga opened up some eyes in his last start.
Starting at the top of the college draft class and working our way down, we will highlight eleven players to watch as the season progresses.
1. Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford – Appel threw a complete game against Fresno State, allowing just one run on three hits, with 11 strikeouts last weekend. He did even better this time out. Appel threw a complete game shutout, striking out 14 against 22nd ranked Texas at home. In his first start against Rice, Appel struggled a bit, taking the loss against another former Pirates draft pick, Austin Kubitza. On the year, he has pitched 23 innings, giving up three runs on 13 hits, five walks and he has 28 strikeouts. The first round pick of the Pirates in 2012, likely won’t see the same drop in the rankings as he did last year if he continues to prove he is the top player available in this year’s draft.
2. Sean Manaea, LHP, Indiana State- Just like Appel, Manaea likely will be gone well before the Pirates pick. His draft stock stayed exactly the same this weekend, as cold and snow canceled his team’s entire weekend series. Manaea threw six shutout innings, with ten strikeouts last weekend when his fastball was clocked at 98 MPH.
3. Ryne Stanek, RHP, Arkansas- Stanek lasted just three innings against Evansville last weekend, needing 76 pitches to get through his outing. In his first outing, he pitched well, but lasted just four innings, giving up one run on two hits. This weekend against 25th ranked Arizona State, he gave up two runs on five hits, two walks and a hit batter. Stanek threw 85 pitches, 57 for strikes. Reports from the game had him topping out at 96 MPH, with a good slider. He was originally a third round pick of the Mariners in 2010.
4. Colin Moran, 3B, North Carolina- Moran went 6-for-12, with nine walks over the four games played this week. He is hitting .361 over his first ten games, with a .540 OBP. On the downside, all but one of his 13 hits have been singles, the other was a double from Saturday. Moran is third on his team in average, but six other starters have a higher slugging percentage. He also committed two errors this week after fielding cleanly the first two weeks.
5. Jonathon Crawford, RHP, Florida- After going just 3.2 innings in his debut, Crawford took the tough-luck loss last weekend, throwing 5.1 no-hit innings. He allowed two runs on two walks and two hit batters. This weekend against Miami, he threw six innings and a career high 103 pitches. Crawford gave up two runs on eight hits and three walks, striking out three batters. There were reports last week that his velocity was off by 3-4 MPH, which is very concerning, because he doesn’t have a clean/smooth delivery. Part of the intrigue with him was the 93-96 MPH velocity he was showing last year.
6. Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego- Bryant had two big games this weekend, hitting two doubles and a homer on Friday night, then hitting his third home run on Sunday. He went 7-for-16, with four walks and seven runs scored during the four games his team played this week. Bryant has drawn at least one walk in ten of his team’s 11 games this year. He has a 1.201 OPS through 53 plate appearances.
7. Bobby Wahl, RHP, Ole Miss- He had an impressive debut, going 6.1 scoreless innings, while hitting 95 MPH on the radar gun. Wahl followed it up with one run over five innings, but he had control issues, allowing six walks and he hit a batter. In his third start, he gave up four runs over 5.1 innings to Florida International. Wahl allowed nine hits and three walks, striking out four.
8. Phillip Ervin, OF, Samford- Ervin had a big first week, going 7-for-15, with three homers and three walks. He slowed down a little the second week, going 5-for-20, with a homer over his team’s five games(includes a mid-week game). In week three, Ervin went 4-for-10, with two homers and three walks against Purdue. He is hitting .340 this year(fifth on his team) with six homers, 12 RBI’s and a team-leading 1.255 OPS. While he will be drafted as a hitter, Ervin has pitched three times in relief this year, striking out seven batters in 3.1 innings.
9. Austin Wilson, OF, Stanford- During his first game, Wilson strained a muscle just below his elbow. It was described as a nagging injury, but minor and he was day-to-day. Wilson has now missed ten straight games. It was originally said that he could miss 6-8 weeks, but Aaron Fitt from Baseball America reported that Wilson could return in as early as 10-15 days from now
10. D.J. Peterson, 3B/1B/OF New Mexico- He went 5-for-13, with a double, triple and homer last weekend, with a huge game on Sunday accounting for most of those stats. This weekend, Peterson went 1-for-8, with his only hit being a three-run homer. He is hitting .344, with three homers, ten runs scored, 11 RBI’s and a 1.306 OPS , through eight games. New Mexico had their Friday game canceled due to weather, so he played just two games this week.
11. Marco Gonzalez, LHP, Gonzaga-Gonzales could be making his way up the charts into the Pirates range. On Friday night, he threw a complete game shutout against 2nd ranked Arkansas, allowing eight hits, no walks and he struck out nine. He is 2-1, 2.45, with 22 strikeouts in 22 innings this season. Gonzales also plays 1B/DH and he is hitting .343 this year through ten games, but his future is on the mound. He was recently ranked 11th overall among draft-eligible college players by Baseball America. He has an advanced feel for pitching, 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.
Daily Draft Recaps
Friday Bryant homers, adds two doubles. Appel strikes out 14.
Saturday Gonzalez joins the mix, news on Dominic Smith
Sunday Bryant with a home run, plus updates on four former Pirates draft picks that went unsigned.