Draft Preview: Wilson Homers Twice, Bryant Sets HR Record, Manaea Injured
We are now in the 11th weekend of the college season and the start of the amateur draft is now just six weeks away. The Pirates have the #9 and #14 picks in the upcoming June 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 tenth 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 Oregon
Mark Appel will starts Friday night on the road against Oregon. As of right now, Appel has been mentioned anywhere in the top four spots in the draft along with two HS hitters, Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier, and Oklahoma pitcher Jonathan Gray. He has struggled somewhat recently, but with his track record his stock likely won’t slip much at all, unless he keeps under-performing. Outfielder Austin Wilson had been out with a muscle strain below his elbow since leaving the first game. He finally returned three weeks ago and has been hitting well since. On Tuesday, Wilson went 4-for-4, with two home runs, a double and an RBI against San Jose State. Stanford plays three games against Oregon, starting Friday, and they have a Tuesday game at home against Saint Mary’s.
North Carolina VS
Third baseman Colin Moran leads the 1st ranked Tar Heels(40-3) into action this weekend as they play three games on the road against 6th ranked NC State starting on Friday night. Moran played yesterday against Charlotte and went 3-for-4, with two RBI’s. On Tuesday against UNC Wilmington, he went 2-for-4, with his tenth homer and three RBI’s. He is now hitting .395 on the year, with 67 RBI’s and a 1.149 OPS. North Carolina has Kent Emanuel, the 19th round pick of the Pirates in the 2010 draft, who will likely start Friday. Emanuel is a possible late first or second round pick at this point. North Carolina also has home game on Wednesday against The Citadel.
San Diego VS San Francisco
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 spends most of his time at third base, but he also plays the outfield and will likely end up as a corner outfielder in the pros. He is rated by some as the best college hitter available in this draft, and he has cemented that spot recently after struggling in the previous two weeks. Bryant has homered in five of his last six games, including Wednesday when he hit his 21st of the season. It not only extended his single season school record, it also set San Diego’s career record. Bryant plays three games at home against San Francisco, starting Friday night. He also has a Tuesday home game against Cal St Northridge.
Gonzaga VS BYU
Marco Gonzales from Gonzaga did well against Pepperdine last last, but needed a lot of pitches to get through seven innings of work. He was coming off an average outing the previous Friday against St Mary’s College and two straight poor starts, the first coming against Loyola Marymount three weeks ago, then a rain-shortened outing against Portland the next week. Gonzaga will play at home against BYU starting Thursday night. Gonzales needs to turn things around quickly to stay in the Pirates range, as many college pitchers have been mentioned in the mid-first round talks recently. He has a very strong bat(.336 in 125 AB’s) and can play 1B, so his bat may entice a team to pick him, who see that as a fallback option. His pitching is his strong point though.
Florida VS Tennessee
Pitcher Jonathon Crawford will lead the Gators as they play three games this weekend at home against Tennessee starting on Friday. Out of all the players rated highly this pre-season, Crawford has probably slipped the most. He was already questionable to some teams, who saw his delivery as a problem. He does not have a clean motion, but prior to this season, the results were better and his velocity is very good. He still has a few weeks to turn things around, but it’s beginning to look like he has a better shot at going to the Pirates in the second round, as opposed to one of their first round picks. Some scouts view his as a reliever, rather than starter, which would hurt his stock.
Ole Miss VS Kentucky
Bobby Wahl, a RHP from Ole Miss, is scheduled to pitch Thursday night at home against Kentucky. Wahl has pitched well despite control problems against Vanderbilt two weeks ago, and Alabama last week. This past week he was named SEC Pitcher of the Week for his complete game shutout against Tennessee. He is 8-0, 1.22 in ten starts and his only problem seems to be wildness, which has plagued him in a few starts, limiting his innings in those games. Wahl has allowed just one homer and posted a .183 BAA in 66.2 innings, but has also walked 32 batters.
Indiana State VS UT-Martin
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. He had an entire week wiped out by weather, injured his ankle on a play at the plate and had a sore hip that pushed back his start. That hip injury has come back and it may sideline him this weekend. We will update his status when we get word. He is 5-3, 1.57 in 57.1 innings, with 72 strikeouts, one homer allowed, and a .195 BAA.
Arkansas VS Georgia
Ryne Stanek and Arkansas will play three games on the road against Georgia this weekend, starting on Friday. Arkansas is the #15 ranked team in the country. Stanek threw eight shutout innings three weeks ago against Alabama, then followed it up with 6.2 scoreless innings against #2 ranked LSU. He extended that shutout streak to 18 innings before giving up a run this past weekend. Prior to this stretch, Stanek had trouble going deep in games this year and the results were just average, but he has been solid recently. He will likely start Saturday’s game. Baseball America has a story for subscribers about Stanek, while Jonathan Mayo from MLB.com also has an article on him.
Samford VS Appalachian State
Phillip Ervin, an outfielder from Samford, will play three games on the road against Appalachian State this weekend, starting on Friday night. Ervin played Tuesday against Troy University and went 0-5 in an 8-2 loss. Ervin is hitting .348 this year, with a 1.135 OPS. He leads his team with ten homers, 29 walks and 11 stolen bases(in 12 attempts). Ervin was playing center field at the beginning of the year, then moved to left field for two weeks, but he has moved back to center field this past. Samford also has a Tuesday road game against University of Alabama at Birmingham.
New Mexico VS UNLV
D.J. Peterson from New Mexico will play three games this weekend at home against UNLV starting Friday. He will also have a two game road series against Texas Tech on Tues/Wed. He is hitting .400, with 12 homers, 44 runs scored, 50 RBI’s and a 1.332 OPS , through 36 games. He has played both third base and first base this year, but profiles better at first base. He bats and throws right, which is not ideal for first base and could hold his draft position down. His stats are also inflated by playing his home games in a high offense ballpark that yields an average of 13.6 runs per game, though that is down from the park they played the first half of their season at, where an average of 17 runs per game were scored.
Fresno State VS San Diego State
Aaron Judge, a 6’7″ outfielder from Fresno State, is rated among the top six college hitters in this draft by most. Fresno State has a three game series this weekend on the road against San Diego State starting Friday. Judge had a game Tuesday against CSU Bakersfield and went 1-for-3, with a walk. He is hitting a team-leading .347 in 38 games, with seven homers, 11 doubles and a 1.027 OPS. His strikeout total, 38 in 147 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 also plays a home game against CSU Bakersfield on Tuesday.
Oklahoma VS Texas Tech
Jonathan Gray turned some heads a month 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 next start, 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. In his starts since, Gray has been in the 98-99 MPH top range. Kendall Rogers has an article on Gray that can be read here. On the year, he is 7-1, 1.09 in 74.1 innings(ten starts), with 91 strikeouts and a .159 BAA. Oklahoma plays three games at home against Texas Tech beginning on Friday, when Gray should get his start.
LSU VS South Carolina
Ryan Eades, a 6’3″ RHP, leads #2 ranked LSU against highly ranked South Carolina this weekend at home, playing a three game series that starts on Friday. He will likely go on Saturday Eades got the win over Kansas three weeks ago, with one run allowed over 8.2 innings. He gave up just four hits and one walk, while striking out six hitters. Since then he has really struggled, allowing five runs over four innings in each of his last two starts. Eades was working his way into the middle of the first round, but these last two weeks have likely hurt his chances. If he can bounce back against a tough South Carolina team then that could erase the last two weeks.
Jacksonville VS North Florida
Chris Anderson has been rated as high as tenth in this draft class in mock drafts, though that has likely changed recently. Baseball America didn’t even have him in their pre-season top 100 draft-eligible college players list, so he really shot up the draft charts. At 6’4″ 225 lbs., he has the build of a workhorse pitcher, but he has struggled recently against some low quality opposition. He has beat up on some very low rated teams, while also getting hit hard against some of those same type of teams. This week his opponent is a little tougher than normal, ranked #62 in the country. He is now 6-3, 2.59 in ten starts, with 83 strikeouts and 15 walks in 73 innings and a .227 BAA. Recent scouting reports of his outings were not good and overwork has been a suggested reason for the struggles. Jacksonville starts a three game series at home against North Florida on Friday night.
Nevada VS Air Force
Braden Shipley has also got some top ten mentions recently, and for good reason. The 6’3″ righty is 5-2, 2.59 in nine starts, with 75 strikeouts in 73 innings. He went 7.1 innings on Friday night against DJ Peterson and New Mexico, allowing four runs(two earned) on six hits and two walks, while picking up ten strikeouts. Two weeks ago against UNLV, Shipley wasn’t sharp in his seven innings, allowing four runs on six hits and five walks, with eight strikeouts. Three weeks ago, he went eight innings against San Diego State, allowing two runs on three hits and three walks, with five strikeouts. 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 against Air Force this weekend, playing a three game series that starts on Friday.
Kevin Ziomek is a late addition to the watch list, recently getting mention in the mid-first round, though he hasn’t been as sharp recently as the overall numbers would suggest. He had good results this past week, but in eight innings he had four walks and four strikeouts, both off his usual standards. Three weeks ago, he faced off against Bobby Wahl and pitched great, allowing one run in 7.1 innings. He gave up just three hits, although his 4/3 BB/K ratio left something to be desired. Ziomek was not sharp in his next start, allowing four runs on six hits and three walks in six innings against Missouri. He throws low-90′s with a nice slider and change-up. At the beginning of the year he was thought of as a late 1st/ early 2nd round pick, but he has moved up from that. Ziomek is 7-2, 2.20 in ten starts, with 75 strikeouts and a .165 BAA in 73.2 innings. Vanderbilt plays on the road against Georgia this weekend, starting Friday. They also have Walker Buehler, who was drafted by the Pirates last year, on their pitching staff. He is 3-1, 2.61 in six starts and four relief appearances.
Baseball America has a list of three catchers who are working their way up the draft charts. Among them is Elvin Soto, who goes to Pittsburgh. The full article can be read here by subscribers.
Perfect Game has some recent notes of some of the top players, among them Ryan Eades and Jonathon Crawford.
Jim Callis from Baseball America had a chat on Tuesday, where he covered many of the players mentioned above. Also mentioned a couple times was Trey Ball, a HS pitcher who has been mentioned in the Pirates range all season long. The chat can be read here.