Draft Prospect Watch: Week Seven Recap
The seventh weekend of the college baseball season has come to a close and we saw some mixed results from the college arms near the top of this year’s draft class. Prior to this week, it looked like Jonathon Crawford was working his way out of first round consideration and Chris Anderson from Jacksonville University was moving up the charts, but what a difference a week makes for those two young arms. Among college bats, Kris Bryant, Colin Moran and the injured Austin Wilson still seem to be the top three on most lists. We have added pitcher Braden Shipley and outfielder Aaron Judge to the watch list this week. 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 sixteen players to watch as the season progresses.
Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford – Appel had early command issues this week, but was able to keep Washington State off the board the entire game. He threw a complete game shutout, allowing four hits, one walk and he hit three batters. He made last Friday’s start on two weeks rest due to Stanford having the entire previous week off. Against Utah, he went eight innings, allowing two runs on six hits, one walk and he struck out 11 batters. Appel gave up his first home run of the season in the second inning. Bleacher Report has a live recap of the game here. Going over his previous starts, he threw a complete game against Fresno State, allowing just one run on three hits, with 11 strikeouts in his second start. He did even better the next time out, throwing a complete game shutout, striking out 14 against 22nd ranked Texas at home. Three weeks ago the overall results weren’t as good as he took a 3-2 loss to UNLV, but just one run was earned and he struck out 15 batters. 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 is 4-2, 0.96 and has pitched 47 innings, giving up five earned runs on 27 hits, eight walks and he has 64 strikeouts. Most recent mock drafts have him going somewhere in the top five this year, along with Sean Manaea, Jonathan Gray and two HS bats, Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier.
Sean Manaea, LHP, Indiana State- Manaea had a big match-up two weeks against Tom Windle, another top-ranked pitcher in this year’s draft class. Manaea won the battle 2-1, throwing a complete game. The only run scored off him was unearned. He gave up six hits, one walk and had nine strikeouts. The radar readings were a little off earlier reports, sitting in the 92-94 MPH range this time. There was some concern afterwards, when he rolled his ankle covering home plate on the last play of the game. The ankle was obviously okay, as the next Friday, he threw seven shutout innings against Southern Illinois. He allowed three hits, two walks and he struck out eight batters. Manaea threw 100 pitches, 69 went for strikes. 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 he is 3-2, 1.14 in six starts, with 46 strikeouts in 39.1 innings. Manaea has a .172 BAA and has issued 13 walks.
Ryne Stanek, RHP, Arkansas- It seems to be a pattern with his starts this year, flash top-notch stuff, but he’s never able to go deep into games. That changed last week when he threw a complete game against sixth ranked South Carolina. Stanek allowed three hits, one walk and he struck out seven batters. He was sitting 94-96 MPH early. This week however, he was back to his normal pattern this year. He lasted just four innings before being removed due to his pitch count. Stanek only allowed one earned run, but needed 92 pitches to get through those four innings. Against Ole Miss two weeks ago, Stanek went 4.2 innings, allowing three runs on four hits and three walks, striking out four batters. His fastball was clocked at 95 MPH. In his previous start, he had a tough outing due to some control issues. Against San Diego, the righty lasted just 4.1 innings, giving up three runs on five hits, five walks and he struck out five. Four weeks ago 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 lasted just three innings against Evansville in his second start, 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. On the year he is 2-2, 2.34 in 34.2 innings, with 33 strikeouts, 16 walks and a .215 BAA.
Colin Moran, 3B, North Carolina- Moran played a doubleheader today against Clemson, the first game was the completion of yesterday’s game, which was postponed in the third inning due to rain. In the first game, Moran went 1-for-3 and got hit by a pitch. In game two, he went 1-for-4, with a two-run home run, two walks and three RBI’s. Top ranked North Carolina lost just their second game of the season despite his effort. In three previous games this week, Moran went 4-for-14, with a homer and three RBI’s. He went 7-for-14, with two doubles and four RBI’s in three games last week. Moran went 9-for-20, with two homers, seven RBI’s and two walks over the five games played the previous week. On the year, he is hitting .374 in 27 games, with five doubles, six homers, 35 RBI’s and 35 runs scored. There are some questions as to whether he can stick at third base in the pros. It seems to be an even split between scouts who think he will be steady/average at the spot, and ones that think he may have to move. So far this year, Moran has made three errors in 60 chances. NC has a game Wednesday against UNC Wilmington.
Jonathon Crawford, RHP, Florida- Crawford was in danger of falling out of the first round until a terrific start this week halted his slide. He threw a complete game shutout against Ole Miss, giving up just two hits and two walks while striking out eight. He allowed six runs in six innings against Vanderbilt last week, giving up 12 base hits. The only bright side, was no walks and seven strikeouts. Crawford was pushed back a day in the rotation three weeks ago and did good early in his first Saturday start, but had a rough sixth inning, then fell apart in the seventh without recording an out. Crawford went 6.1 innings three weeks against Indiana. The right-hander took the loss, allowing four runs on nine hits, with one walk and six strikeouts. Four weeks 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. After going just 3.2 innings in his debut, he took the tough-luck loss in his second start, throwing 5.1 no-hit innings. He allowed two runs on two walks and two hit batters. On the year, Crawford is 1-4, 4.46 with 34 strikeouts in 42.1 innings.
Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego- He went 5-for-19 with two homers, six runs scored and five RBI’s this week in five games. Last week, the marquee match-up in college was Friday night, when Bryant faced off against Marco Gonzales from Gonzaga(see below). Bryant won the battle with two hits and a walk in four plate appearances. On the week, he went 4-for-11, with a double, triple and three walks. Bryant had just three games the previous week, but he hit walk-off homers in two of them. He went 5-for-12, with four homers, five walks and eight RBI’s. In the week before that, Bryant hit five homers and drove in nine runs. In 28 games, he is hitting .370, with 14 homers, 33 RBI’s, nine doubles, 35 runs scored and 34 walks. Bryant has a 1.437 OPS and gets on base 53% of the time. A versatile defensive player, besides taking his primary spot at third base, he has also started in right field, center field and first base. Recent reports ranked his third base defense as slightly below average, while he should be able to handle himself in right field.
Bobby Wahl, RHP, Ole Miss- He had an impressive debut this year, 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. It was said afterwards that he had an issue with one of his fingers on his pitching hand. The problems seems to have subsided, going by the results in his start last three weeks ago. He threw six shutout innings, allowing three hits, no walks and he struck out six. His velocity was reported to be in the 93-94 MPH range early in the start. Two weekends ago, Wahl gave up just one run over seven innings against Arkansas. He was hitting 92 MPH and flashing an above-average slurve, though his control wasn’t at it’s best. Last weekend, Wahl was on his game, allowing one run on seven hits in eight innings. He walked none and struck out nine. This week he ran into a little trouble, giving up three runs over 7.1 innings to Florida. Wahl took the no-decision in that game and his record now stands at 6-0, 1.80 in seven starts, with 37 strikeouts in 45 innings.
Phillip Ervin, OF, Samford- Ervin had a doubleheader on Friday, but he left the first game early after being hit by a pitch. He pinch-hit in game two and sat out Saturday’s game. Ervin went 6-for-12, with three walks in three games against Furman last weekend. He also had a mid-week game against Alabama in which he went 0-for-1, with two walks. The previous week, he went 4-for-12 against Georgia Southern, with a couple walks and a HBP. He is hitting .391 this year(second on his team) over 27 games, with eight homers, 20 RBI’s, 27 runs scored and a team-leading 1.246 OPS. He is his team’s clean-up hitter and he plays center field. While he will be drafted as a hitter, Ervin has pitched four times in relief this year, striking out eight batters in 4.1 innings. He generates a lot of power from a 5’10″ frame and he is athletic enough to remain in center field. Most early rankings have him ranked between 4-6 among all college hitters.
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 14 straight games. It was originally said that he could miss 6-8 weeks, which would have put him at a late April return, but Aaron Fitt from Baseball America reported that Wilson would return by last weekend. Wilson never did play, so that second 2-4 week estimate on his return, turned out to be wrong. Still no word on when he will return, but it’s beginning to look like the original estimate was right.
D.J. Peterson, 3B/1B/OF New Mexico- Peterson went 3-for-3, with four runs scored on Thursday, but injured his hamstring and left the game early. It was called a minor injury and he didn’t play Friday or Saturday. Peterson had a slow week last week, going 4-for-21, with three walks and a homer over his five games. The previous week he finished off a week that started slow, by belting two homers and driving in eight runs on Sunday, during a 12-7 win over UNLV. Peterson had an offensive explosion the week before that as well. During a Saturday doubleheader, he reached base all six times with a home run and five walks in one game, and went 5-for-5, with two home runs in the other. He also had four hits the day before, including a home run. He is hitting .410, with 11 homers, 36 runs scored, 35 RBI’s and a 1.422 OPS , through 24 games.
Marco Gonzales, LHP, Gonzaga- Gonzales had a tough outing this week against Loyola Marymount, allowing seven runs on nine hits and two walks in six innings. Prior to that he was on a season long hot streak. Going up against Bryant and San Diego last week, Gonzales allowed one run in seven innings, on five hits and three walks, while striking out nine. Two of the hits and one walk were to Bryant. The previous Friday, he threw eight innings against San Francisco, allowing two runs on four hits, one walk and he recorded six strikeouts. Three weeks ago against Hawaii, Gonzales allowed one run over eight innings, giving up four hits, no walks and he struck out five batters. In his previous start, Gonzales threw a complete game shutout against 2nd ranked Arkansas, allowing eight hits, no walks and he struck out nine. He is 4-2, 2.65, with 46 strikeouts and ten walks in 51 innings this season. Gonzales also plays 1B/DH and he is hitting a team-leading .347 this year through 75 AB’s, but his future is on the mound. He was ranked 11th overall among draft-eligible college players by Baseball America in their pre-season rankings. 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.
Jonathan Gray, RHP, Oklahoma- The 6’4″ RHP hit 100 MPH during his start three weeks ago against UCLA, getting instant attention from everyone following the draft. He threw seven shutout innings, recording eight strikeouts, while working in the 94-98 MPH range all night. According to Aaron Fitt, who was at the game, he was showing a nice slider and changeup combo as well. The next weekend, he did that performance one better against Northwestern State. On the last pitch of the game, his 111th pitch of the night, he hit 100 MPH on the radar gun. Gray struck out 12 batters in his shutout win. That led up to last week when he hit 100 MPH for the third straight start, this time against TCU. Gray went nine innings, allowing one earned run on three hits, one walk and he struck out twelve. He was still hitting 97 MPH in the middle of the ninth inning when he passed the 120 pitch mark. In his start this weekend, Gray continued to improve his draft stock but going the distance against Kansas, allowing one run on two hits and no walks, with 12 strikeouts. Gray was considered a late first round pick to start the year, but in one recent poll, they had him going second. On the year, he is 5-1, 1.34 in 53.2 innings(six starts), with 63 strikeouts and a .152 BAA.
Ryan Eades, RHP, LSU – Eades gave up 13 baserunners on Saturday night against Missouri, but still managed to throw eight shutout innings. He had decent results in his win over Auburn last Saturday night. Eades went 6.2 innings, giving up one run on seven hits and two walks, while striking out four. The previous Saturday night, he went seven innings during a 7-3 win over Mississippi State. Eades gave up one run on six hits, two walks and he struck out eight batters. Baseball America ranked him as the 12th best college draft-eligible player in their pre-season rankings, and Keith Law recently ranked the right-hander 15th overall in the entire draft class. In seven starts, Eades is 5-0, 1.35 in 46.1 innings, with 45 strikeouts.
Chris Anderson, RHP, Jacksonville – At 6’4″ 225 lbs., he has the build of a workhorse pitcher, and the stats to back it up. Anderson has been rated as high as tenth in this draft class recently. This week he had a rough outing, allowing eight runs on 11 hits in six innings against Mercer. He did strike out ten without issuing a walk, so there was a small silver lining to the start. Last weekend against USC Upstate, he threw 8.1 scoreless innings, allowing eight hits, one walk and he struck out ten batters. He is now 4-2, 2.12 in seven starts, with 70 strikeouts in 53 innings and a .206 BAA. 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.
Braden Shipley, RHP, Nevada – He’s a 6’3″ righty, that opened his college career as a shortstop. Shipley moved to the mound last year and put up impressive numbers(9-4, 2.20 ERA, .212 BAA). This year he has moved into top ten consideration with his 4-0, 2.31 record, with 52 strikeouts in 50.2 innings and a .221 BAA. Shipley has been clocked at 99 MPH this season and he has an above average change-up.
Aaron Judge, OF, Fresno State – Judge is 6’7″, 255 lbs with tons of power, but he hasn’t been able to put it all together yet. He is still a good hitter with a .335 career average, but he should eventually hit for more power. Judge has four homers this year and ten in his college career, spanning 483 AB. He plays defense and moves well for his size, but he is limited to a corner outfield spot, so adding power to his game is imperative. Judge went 3-for-4 off Shipley this week.
Daily Draft Recaps
Thursday Homers by Bryant and Moran, plus plenty of HS news
Friday Manaea struggles, Bryant homers, plus HS videos and profiles for some top names
Saturday Crawford throws a gem
Sunday Shipley update, plus updates on former Pirates picks