Draft Prospect Watch: Week Eleven Recap, Gray To The Forefront?
The eleventh weekend of the college baseball season has come to a close and there is less than six weeks now until the draft starts. We will recap the week for 17 of the top college players that are draft eligible. Four of them have player pages on the site, with a scouting report and daily stats. The are Florida pitcher, Jonathon Crawford and three of the top college bats, San Diego’s Kris Bryant, North Carolina’s Colin Moran and Austin Wilson from Stanford. The daily links below have numerous other players mentioned, including outfielder Hunter Renfroe from Mississippi State, who has made a name for himself recently. The links also have information on High School players each day. Last week’s recap can be read here. This year’s draft will take place from June 6-8 and the Pirates pick #9 and #14 in the first round.
Starting at the top of the college draft class and working our way down, we will highlight seventeen players to watch as the season progresses.
Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford – Appel went through a stretch after his first start, in which he was dominating teams. Recently, the results have been good, but not up to his normal standards. This week against Oregon, he took the loss, giving up a walk-off hit in the ninth. He allowed two runs on eight hits and two walks. Appel hasn’t really dropped in the rankings due to his recent struggles(by his standards) though it is very possible he won’t be the first pick, which could go to Jonathan Gray(see below) or one of two HS bats in Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier.
Sean Manaea, LHP, Indiana State- Manaea missed this weekend with a hip injury. The injury isn’t considered serious and he should make his next start this upcoming weekend. He has missed time this year due to weather wiping out an entire week, plus he has also pitched with a sprained ankle. Two weeks ago, the same hip injury caused his start to be pushed back from Friday to Sunday. When he is healthy, Manaea is one of the top pitchers in this draft, with some considering him the best earlier in the season.
Ryne Stanek, RHP, Arkansas- Stanek went 6.1 innings against Georgia on Saturday, giving just one run, but he did allow 11 base runners in the game(seven hits, three walks, one HBP) and only struck out three, needing 112 pitches to get through his outing. He has been solid in each of his last four starts after a slow beginning to the season that including him having trouble going deep into games. Those stamina questions have been erased recently.
Colin Moran, 3B, North Carolina- Moran had a big week two weeks ago, but has cooled off the last two weekends. He went 1-for-9 this week against NC State, in an abbreviated week due to a Sunday rainout. His one hit was a big one, a three run homer during NC’s Friday night win. Moran has been mentioned in the Pirates range recently. He was bring a solid bat to the system, one that makes a ton of contact with some power. He is also good enough to stick at third base, though he is nothing flashy, just solid to average.
Jonathon Crawford, RHP, Florida- Crawford is probably the lowest ranked player on this list right now. He has been off his game all season, showing occasional signs of the pitching ability that got him listed here in the first place. This week he threw 4.2 scoreless innings and was only taken out early due to the fact he rolled his ankle on Thursday, which caused his start to be pushed back. He actually finished his last outing with 4.2 scoreless innings as well, so he has put up a nice little streak recently. He needs more of the same to even be considered with an early pick. Some scouts see him as a future reliever.
Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego- Bryant set his schools single season and career home run marks last week, as he put on quite a show from the mid-week games until Sunday. This weekend against San Francisco, he went 3-for-11, with a homer, double and three walks. All three hits came during the Saturday game. He has hit more homers this season than all of his teammates combined, as well as more than all of San Diego’s opponents have hit this year. He will likely be the first college bat off the draft board.
Bobby Wahl, RHP, Ole Miss- Wahl has had great results over his last four outings and in each of his last two games, he has shown good control. This week he allowed one run over seven innings to Kentucky. This recent streak of good control hasn’t always been the case for him this year as walks have hurt him in a handful of his starts. His mid-90’s fastball and excellent secondary pitch could have him going fairly high in the draft, especially if he keeps displaying solid control the rest of the way
Phillip Ervin, OF, Samford- Ervin had just two games this weekend, but he had a big day on Saturday. After going 1-for-5 in the series opener against Appalachian State, he went 3-for-5 in the second game, scoring four runs and driving in four. He has a game tomorrow against the Univ of Alabama at Birmingham. Ervin has been all over the draft boards this year depending on who you talk to. He has been just outside the top ten and also mentioned as an early second round pick. He is small, but also generates a lot of power in his swing. Scouts are also split on his ability to stay in center field.
Austin Wilson, OF, Stanford- With all the missed time Wilson has had this season, he didn’t need a weekend like this past one. He had been hitting well since returning a few weeks ago, but against Oregon he went 2-for-13, with two singles. One of those singles was an infield hit. Wilson is being watched close, since scouts missed him early on and last season he also missed time with an oblique injury, so there is a concern with injury history.
D.J. Peterson, 3B/1B/OF New Mexico- Peterson had two big games this weekend at home against UNLV. On Friday, he collected three hits, including his 20th double and 13th home run. After a tough Saturday, 0-for-3, walk, two strikeouts, he came up big on Sunday. Peterson reached base five times in his team’s 14-13 win. He will be drafted as a first baseman, which could drop his stock for some teams, since he bats and throws right-handed. Not a good track record for that combo in the majors. He also plays in a very high offense home park, so his overall numbers are inflated.
Marco Gonzales, LHP, Gonzaga- Gonzales wasn’t sharp this weekend and really hasn’t been pitching good over the last five weeks combined. He was mentioned as a mid-first round guy early, but that has likely taken a hit. He does have strong points which might lead a team to draft him high. He is a polished pitcher already with four solid pitches and low 90’s velocity. He has one of the best changeups in college(some say the best) and he is a strong athlete, who can also hit very well. He is still going to have to show something over the next couple weeks to remain a possible pick for the Pirates.
Jonathan Gray, RHP, Oklahoma- Gray has been dominating all season long, with a couple average games thrown into the mix. It was no different this weekend against Texas Tech, whom he no-hit for the first five innings. Gray has emerged as a possible first overall pick after being a possible mid-round pick to start the year. His fastball hits triple digits and is the best in this draft class. It is highly unlikely he is around when the Pirates pick first.
Ryan Eades, RHP, LSU – Eades was very bad two weeks in a row, so he really needed to step up this week and he did. He took on #15 ranked South Carolina Saturday and left after seven innings with the score tied at two runs apiece. Eades gave up six hits, three walks and he struck out three hitters. Both runs he allowed were unearned. He is another player that can be found all over draft charts, ranging from mid-first round to early second.
Chris Anderson, RHP, Jacksonville – Anderson is a big workhorse type pitcher, but he has not been doing well since shooting up the draft charts early in the year. He doesn’t have the strongest quality of opposition, so he needs to dominate to get recognition. He was doing that early in the year, but the last 5-6 starts have either been bad, or just him beating up on bad teams. He has shown excellent control this year and the ability to strike batters out, but this weekend he walked four hitters and only managed three strikeouts in 6.2 innings. There have been some signs that he has suffered from overuse, but what once seemed like a decent pick for the Pirates at #14, seems very unlikely now.
Braden Shipley, RHP, Nevada – Shipley is a player that the Pirates could strongly consider with either pick. Just two years ago, he was a full-time shortstop. Now he is one of the better pitchers in college, hitting 99 MPH with his fastball and putting out strong performances weekly, though his outing this weekend left something to be desired. Playing against a low-rated Air Force team, he allowed three runs on six hits and a walk over seven innings, with just one strikeout. He has been putting up strong strikeout numbers all season, so the low total against a poor team is surprising.
Aaron Judge, OF, Fresno State – Judge hit two homers last week, a possible sign that he could be showing the power that scouts saw possible while seeing his size and watching him in batting practice. Against San Diego State this weekend, he went 0-for-6 between Friday and Saturday, then had a nice game on Sunday, when he picked up three hits. At 6’7″, 255 lbs, he is a huge presence at the plate and he is also a good athlete, who can play the corner outfield spot adequately. His main concerns seems to be lack of in-game power and a high strikeout rate.
Kevin Ziomek, LHP, Vanderbilt – Ziomek didn’t pitch great the last two weeks, so this week’s start was big for him to get back on track. Against Hunter Renfroe(see Sunday link below) and Mississippi State, Ziomek did get back on track, with one run on four hits and three walks in seven innings. He struck out nine batters, including Renfroe twice. There has been talk of him as a mid-first round pick, though he will likely go a little lower now.
Daily Draft Recaps
Friday Moran homers, Manaea injured
Saturday Stanek, Eades and Gray pitch well, tons of HS news
Sunday Recap of all seven college hitters, former Pirates picks and HS news