Draft Preview: College Season Reaches The Halfway Point
The eighth weekend of the college season is about to get under way, as most teams reach the midway point in their schedule. 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 seventh 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 USC
Mark Appel, the Pirates first round pick from last year, is one of the few bright spots for his team. The Cardinal lineup has a lack of offensive punch that has put them at 14-9 in the standings. Right now Appel looks to be the best among all draft-eligible college players this year. After struggling in his opening start, he has bounced back with strong performances in all of his starts since. Appel is 4-2 0.96 in six starts, with eight walks, 64 strikeouts and a .161 BAA in 47 innings. While Appel isn’t expected to fall to the Pirates again, the Cardinal do have another interesting prospect. Outfielder Austin Wilson has been out with a muscle strain below his elbow since leaving the first game. His time to impress scouts this season is getting shorter and shorter as he keeps missing games. Wilson also missed time last Summer due to an oblique strain. He was expected back by last weekend, but did not play. He is traveling with the team and could possibly see action this weekend at USC or Tuesday when they play San Jose State.
North Carolina VS Maryland
Third baseman Colin Moran leads the 1st ranked Tar Heels(26-2) into action this weekend as they play three games at home against Maryland starting Friday. Moran played last night against UNC Wilmington and had a big game, going 3-for-5, with a double, two runs scored and an RBI. 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 28 games, Moran is hitting .384, with six homers, 36 RBI’s and a 1.091 OPS. He has drawn 25 walks and has only struck out eight times all year. North Carolina also has Kent Emanuel, the 19th round pick of the Pirates in the 2010 draft. He has a 5-1, 1.16 record in seven starts, with two shutouts. Emanuel has struck out 40 batters in 54.1 innings and has held hitters to a .214 batting average. He could be available when the Pirates select in the second round. North Carolina also has a Tuesday game on the road against Elon and a Wednesday game at home against Liberty.
San Diego VS Loyola Marymount
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. He is rated by some as the best college hitter available in this draft. Besides the hot corner, he has also played outfield and first base, though he profiles best defensively in right field. He is hitting .370 through 28 games, with 14 homers, 33 RBI’s, a 1.437 OPS, 34 walks and 41 runs scored. San Diego plays a three game series on the road starting Friday against Loyola Marymount, then they are home Tuesday against UC Irvine.
Gonzaga VS Portland
Marco Gonzales from Gonzaga is coming off his first poor start of the year, coming last Thursday against Loyola Marymount. He went six innings, allowing seven runs on nine hits and two walks. A few of the bigger name pitchers had poor outings last week when their day to pitch was moved up one day due to the Easter Sunday holiday. It should be interesting to see how Gonzales bounces back, this time throwing on an extra days rest. He is 4-2, 2.65, with 46 strikeouts and a .235 BAA in 51 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 the University of Portland Friday night.
Florida VS Mississippi State
Pitcher Jonathon Crawford will lead the Gators as they play three games this weekend on the road against Mississippi State. Crawford had his start three 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. Then last week, he allowed six runs in six innings, giving up 12 hits. It looked like was falling out of first round consideration, but Crawford had a brilliant outing on Saturday. He threw a complete game shutout against Ole Miss, allowing just two hits and two walks. He is now 1-4, 4.46 in 42.1 innings, with 34 strikeouts. He may have stopped the free-fall, but he still needs to prove it wasn’t just a one shot deal, because he has been very bad at times this year and some scouts don’t like his delivery, which is described as not smooth.
Ole Miss VS Vanderbilt
Bobby Wahl, a RHP from Ole Miss, is scheduled to pitch Friday night against Vanderbilt. 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, then got hit hard this past weekend, but he has pitched outstanding in his other outings. He is 6-0, 1.80 in seven starts, with 37 strikeouts in 45 innings. Wahl has issued 19 walks, though he has also held batters to a .213 BAA, with just one home run allowed.
Indiana State VS Wichita State
Sean Manaea, was rated early on by some as the top college pitcher, even ahead of Mark Appel. Recently he has fallen slightly behind both Appel and Jonathan Gray in the rankings. 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. This week he wasn’t sharp and took the loss against Missouri State, allowing three runs on seven hits and three walks, while striking out five in 7.1 innings. On the year, Manaea is 3-2, 1.14 in six starts, with a .172 BAA, 46 strikeouts in 39.1 innings. Indiana St begins a three game series on Friday night against Wichita State on the road.
Arkansas VS Alabama
Ryne Stanek and Arkansas will play three games on the road against Alabama this weekend, starting on Thursday. Arkansas is the #13 ranked team in the country. Stanek took on #6 ranked South Carolina two weeks ago 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. He reverted back to his old ways this week, needing 92 pitches to get through just four innings. in a loss to Mississippi State. 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 2-2, 2.34, with 33 strikeouts in 34.2 innings. Stanek has allowed 26 hits and issued 16 walks. He will likely start Friday’s game.
Samford VS Wofford
Phillip Ervin, an outfielder from Samford, might play three games at home against Wofford College this weekend, starting on Friday night. Ervin was hit by a pitch during his first game last weekend, and after stealing a base and scoring a run, he left the game. He pinch-hit in the next game, but has since sat out the next two games. Through 27 games, he is hitting .378, with eight homers, 20 RBI’s and a 1.246 OPS. He is a small, but athletic center fielder, who generates a lot of power despite his size. Samford also has a Tuesday game at home against Univ of Alabama At Birmingham
New Mexico VS Air Force
D.J. Peterson from New Mexico may play three games this weekend on the road against Air Force, starting Friday. Last week, he went 3-for-3, with four runs scored on Thursday, but injured a hamstring. The injury was called minor, but it has still caused him to miss the last four games. Peterson struggled two weeks ago, going 4-for-21, with three walks and a homer over his five games. He finished the week before with a huge game, hitting two homers and driving in eight runs during the Sunday game. On the year, he is hitting .410, with 11 homers, 36 runs scored, 35 RBI’s and a 1.422 OPS , through 24 games. He has played both third base and first base this year, but profiles better at first base.
Fresno State VS UNLV
Aaron Judge, a 6’7″ outfielder from Fresno State, is rated among the top 5-6 college hitters in this draft. 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 1-for-4 yesterday against Pacific, with a double and two strikeouts. Judge is hitting a team-leading .343 in 25 games, with four homers, seven doubles and a .976 OPS. His strikeout total, 27 in 99 AB’s, is a little alarming for a polished college hitter 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 at home against UNLV starting Friday.
Oklahoma VS Texas
Jonathan Gray turned some heads four 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 three weeks ago, he pitched a complete game shutout, throwing 111 pitches, the last of which was clocked at 100 MPH. Then the next 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. This last week, he threw a two-hit complete game, recording 12 strikeouts. Gray has had plenty of mention as a top five pick recently, some ranking him as high as second. He is 5-1, 1.34, with 63 strikeouts in 53.2 innings. Oklahoma plays three games at Texas starting Friday.
LSU VS Kentucky
Ryan Eades, a 6’3″ RHP, leads #3 ranked LSU against #7 ranked Kentucky at home this weekend, playing a three game series that starts on Friday. In a win over Auburn two weeks ago, he went 6.2 innings, giving up one run on seven hits and two walks, while striking out four. This past week he wasn’t sharp against Missouri, but he still managed to throw eight shutout innings despite allowing 13 base runners. Eades has recently moved up into the mid-first round range for a few people, thanks to his strong performance this season. He has a 6-0, 1.35 record in seven starts, with 12 walks and 45 strikeouts in 46.2 innings. Keith Law recently ranked him #15 overall among all draft-eligible players, while BA just ranked him #31 overall(see link below).
Jacksonville VS Stetson
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. Anderson really struggled in his start last week against Mercer, but the overall numbers are still very good, especially his BB/K ratio. He is now 4-2, 2.12 in seven starts, with 70 strikeouts and eight walks in 53 innings and a .206 BAA. Jacksonville starts a three game series at home against Stetson on Friday night.
Nevada VS San Diego State
Braden Shipley has also got some top ten mentions recently, and for good reason. The 6’3″ righty is 4-0, 2.31 in seven starts, with 52 strikeouts in 50.2 innings. Last year in 15 starts, he posted a 9-4, 2.20 record. Shipley has been clocked this season at 99 MPH and his change-up is an above average pitch. Nevada will be on the road this weekend against San Diego State, playing a three game series that starts on Friday.
Baseball America has two interesting pieces on the upcoming draft. First a chat with Jim Callis, where he answers questions on Austin Meadows, Sean Manaea, Kris Bryant, Jonathan Gray and many others. That article can be read here.
The other article is their updated top 50 list for draft eligible players. Check out this link, where you can find out who has moved up/down the list the most and what players rank in the 9/14 spots where the Pirates pick.
BA also has their mid-season All-American list, featuring Erwin, Peterson, Bryant, Emanuel, Gray and Appel. Bryant and Appel were named the best hitter/pitcher in the first half.
Minor League Ball posted their draft index page with an amazing amount of info available on the players in the draft. That can be viewed here.
Dominic Smith, the slugging first baseman from Serra HS in California, returned after missing a few games due to a minor injury. He hit a triple and homer yesterday. He is now hitting .514 in 37 AB’s, with 19 RBI’s and nine extra-base hits.
JP Crawford, a prep shortstop from California, is hitting .333 through 16 games, with 16 runs scored and seven extra-base hits.