Draft Prospect Watch: Week Ten Recap, Bryant Finds Home Run Stroke
The tenth weekend of the college baseball season has come to a close and there is less than seven weeks 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. Two weeks ago, we added pitcher Kevin Ziomek from Vanderbilt onto the watch list. This week it stays at seventeen players, but the daily links below have numerous other players mentioned, including outfielder Hunter Renfroe from Mississippi State. He has been getting some mid-first round mentions recently. The links also have information on High School players each day. 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 has been off his game recently, including this week against Arizona. He gave up seven hits, two walks and hit a batter, in 6.2 innings of work. He needed 123 pitches on the night. Appel allowed three runs(two were earned), but he needed help from a reliever to get out of a seventh inning jam. He was struggled against Washington last Friday night, but still went eight innings in his team’s 7-5 win. Appel gave up four runs(three earned) on seven hits, two walks, a hit batter and he struck out seven. He committed the error that led to the unearned run. Two weeks ago against USC he had a poor fifth inning, giving up two runs, then tired down the stretch, unable to finish out the game. It was still a strong outing, as he went 8.2 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits and a walk, while recording seven strikeouts. He was sitting 95-97 MPH early and he threw 114 pitches. Appel had early command issues three weeks ago, 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. On the year, he is 7-2, 1.54 and has pitched 70.1 innings, with 84 strikeouts and a .188 BAA.
Sean Manaea, LHP, Indiana State- Manaea went 5.1 innings against Illinois State this week, allowing four runs(three earned) on six hits and three walks, with nine strikeouts. He threw 101 pitches, 65 for strikes. Manaea went 6.2 innings against Creighton last week, allowing two runs on five hits and four walks, while striking out eight batters. He needed 95 pitches to get through his night, 60 of them went for strikes. He has dealt with some adversity this season. Manaea had a big match-up last month against Tom Windle, another top-ranked pitcher in this year’s draft class. Manaea won the battle 2-1, throwing a complete game. 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. Three starts ago, 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. The next week, he was pushed back to a Sunday start, due to a minor hip injury. Manaea ended up throw six shutout innings, allowing five hits, no walks and he struck out nine batters. On the year he is 5-3, 1.57 in nine starts, with 72 strikeouts in 57.1 innings. Manaea has a .195 BAA and has issued 20 walks.
Ryne Stanek, RHP, Arkansas- Stanek took on Ryan Eades(see below) in the biggest pitcher match-up last week. He threw 6.2 scoreless innings, giving up four hits, three walks and he struck out five batters. He went eight shutout innings in the previous start, giving up four hits, no walks and he struck out five batters. So coming into this week against Texas A&M, he was up to 14.2 scoreless innings in a row. Stanek went 3.1 innings Saturday before finally allowing a run. He finished the game going six innings, with one run allowed on five hits and two walks, while striking out a season-high nine batters. His pitch total was rather high for the amount of innings he pitched and relative lack of trouble. He threw 114 pitches, 74 for strikes. Early on this year, Stanek would flash top-notch stuff, but he was never able to go deep into games. That changed four starts ago 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. On the year, Stanek is 5-2, 1.63 in nine starts, throwing 55.1 innings, with 52 strikeouts, 21 walks and a .201 BAA.
Colin Moran, 3B, North Carolina- Moran had a slow week by his standards, going 4-for-17 during the five games this week. He was able to drive in four runs during a mid-week games though. He had a huge weekend and mid-week last week, going 12-for-24, with two homers and 16 RBI’s. He went 2-for-6 the previous weekend, with six walks and a HBP. One of his hits was a two-run home run against Maryland. He also had a Wednesday game that week in which he went 3-for-5, with a double. On the year, Moran is hitting .384 in 41 games, with eight doubles, nine homers, 62 RBI’s, a 1.121 OPS and 55 runs scored. He has just eight strikeouts in 183 plate appearances. 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 four errors in 98 chances and just two have came in his last 31 games.
Jonathon Crawford, RHP, Florida- I’m hesitant to drop any player from this list each week, but this will probably be the last week for Crawford. On Friday, he struggled early against Missouri, allowing four first inning runs. He pitched 4.2 scoreless innings after that, but he still allowed six baserunners over those shutout innings. Crawford took on #8 ranked South Carolina last Thursday night and went 6.2 innings, picking up the win by allowing two runs on seven hits, two walks, a hit batter and he struck out five. He was in danger of falling out of the first round until a terrific start three weeks ago 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 had struggled almost all season up to that point and Florida had moved him to the Saturday starting spot instead of Friday. Two weeks ago he was moved back to Friday and went five innings against Mississippi State, allowing five runs(two earned) on six hits and five walks, with four strikeouts. He needed 108 pitches to get through five, 62 went for strikes. His record now stands at 3-5, 4.37 in ten starts, with 47 strikeouts in 59.2 innings.
Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego- Bryant came into this week really struggling. He had his worst week of the season two weeks ago, striking out two times in each of the three weekend games. He went a combined 2-for-11, with two walks and a two-run triple. Last week wasn’t much better. San Diego started batting him lead-off and in four games, he went 2-for-11 for the second week in a row, though he did hit a homer and draw seven walks. This week, he went on a tear. On Tuesday, he hit two homers. Then he homered again on Friday, tying San Diego’s single season record with 18 round-trippers. On Saturday, he broke that record, then added another for good measure on Sunday. In 39 games, he is hitting .353, with 20 homers, 42 RBI’s, ten doubles, 51 runs scored and 49 walks. Bryant has a 1.426 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. San Diego has a game tomorrow.
Bobby Wahl, RHP, Ole Miss- Wahl had a strong outing this week, throwing a complete game shutout over Tennessee on Friday night. He allowed just three hits and two walks, while recording eight strikeouts. Wahl’s results were good last week but the control was a problem for him, something he has dealt with most of the year. He allowed just one hit and no runs through six innings to Alabama, but he issued five walks, leading to an early departure with a 4-0 lead. He struck out three batters. In his previous start against Vanderbilt, he went 6.2 innings, giving up one unearned run on five hits and six walks, while recording eight strikeouts. Three weeks ago he ran into a little trouble, giving up three runs over 7.1 innings to Florida. Wahl is 8-0, 1.22 in ten starts, with a .183 BAA and 56 strikeouts in 66.2 innings. As mentioned, his control has been off in a few games, leading to 32 walks so far. He has a nice low-to-mid 90’s fastball and throws an above average slurve.
Phillip Ervin, OF, Samford- Ervin had some trouble with hit-by-pitches a few weeks ago, three times he left a game after being hit and he also missed three games. Last week against Western Carolina, he was safe from HBP’s, but his team got swept. He went 4-for-10, with a triple, home run and three RBI’s in the three game series. This weekend, he went 4-for-12, with a double. He is hitting .362 this year(first on his team) over 39 games, with ten homers, 27 RBI’s, 36 runs scored and a team-leading 1.176 OPS. Ervin is 11-for-12 in stolen base attempts. He is his team’s clean-up hitter and usually he plays center field, though he has been playing some left field recently. While he will be drafted as a hitter, Ervin has pitched seven times in relief this year, striking out nine batters and allowing one run in seven innings. He generates a lot of power from a 5’10” frame and some scouts feel he is athletic enough to play center field in the pros.
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 ended up missing 22 straight games before finally returning two weeks ago. He had two PA’s(BB and K) in his first game back that Friday, then sat out on Saturday. That Sunday, he played the whole game, going 2-for-4, with two RBI’s. Last week he played the field for the first time on Friday and was back there Sunday. In four games, he went 5-for-13, with two doubles, four walks and a home run. This week, Wilson was in the field every game, playing center field on Sunday, moving from his normal right field spot. He went 3-for-12, with a walk during the weekend, and 3-for-5, with a double during his mid-week game. He is hitting .342, with nine RBI’s through 11 games.
D.J. Peterson, 3B/1B/OF New Mexico- Peterson faced off against a top pitcher in Braden Shipley(see below) on Friday and went 1-for-4 off him, hitting a double. He also had an RBI single off a reliever in that same game. On Saturday, he went 1-for-4, with a walk. On Sunday, Peterson had two, 2-run doubles, helping his team to a 15-11 win. Peterson and Aaron Judge(see below) met up last week in a series between two of the top hitters in this draft class. Peterson’s team swept the series, but neither player had a huge series in the hitter’s paradise that New Mexico plays in for their home games. Peterson went 4-for-9, with three walks and two RBI’s. His team scored 29 runs in the sweep, so he wasn’t a big part of the scoring. He also had a Tuesday doubleheader last week against Arkansas and went 2-for-7, with two walks. Three weeks ago, Peterson went 3-for-3, with four runs scored on Thursday, then injured his hamstring and left the game early. It was called a minor injury, but he didn’t play that Friday or Saturday. He missed two mid-week games before returning the next Friday against Air Force. He went 3-for-4 that night, followed by a 3-for-5 on Saturday, before ending the week quietly, with two walks and an 0-for-3 on Sunday. He is hitting .400, with 12 homers, 44 runs scored, 50 RBI’s and a 1.332 OPS , through 36 games.
Marco Gonzales, LHP, Gonzaga- Gonzales went seven innings against Pepperdine on Friday, allowing two runs(one earned) on eight hits, one walk and one hit batter. He struck out three, using 116 pitches on the night. He had a so-so outing against St Mary’s College last Friday night. The lefty went seven innings, allowing four runs(one earned) on six hits, three walks and one hit batter. Gonzales recorded nine strikeouts on the night. He had a tough outing three weeks ago 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. He was unable to bounce back in his next start against Portland, partially due to the weather. In a rain shortened three inning game, he gave up three runs on six hits and a walk, while striking out three. Gonzales used 60 pitches to get through those three innings. He is 5-2, 2.57, with a .246 BAA, 63 strikeouts and 15 walks in 70 innings this season. Gonzales also plays 1B/DH and he is hitting a team-leading .345 this year through 116 AB’s, but his future is on the mound.
Jonathan Gray, RHP, Oklahoma- Gray took on New Orleans Friday night and was dominant. He went six innings, leaving with his team up big at the time. Gray allowed just two hits, both singles, didn’t walk a batter and picked up ten strikeouts. He took on Baylor last Friday night and threw eight solid innings, but walked away with a no-decision. Gray gave up one run on four hits, two walks and he struck out ten batters. According to reports at the game, he was hitting 99 MPH. The previous week he was a little off his game, but for anyone else the outing was strong. He went 6.2 innings against Texas, allowing one unearned run on seven hits and two walks, while striking out eight batters. He was topping out at 98 MPH during that start. The 6’4″ RHP, hit 100 MPH during his start against UCLA earlier this year, 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. He hit 100 MPH in each of his next two games. Video of the start from Jason Cole can be viewed here. On the year, he is 7-1, 1.09 in 74.1 innings(ten starts), with 91 strikeouts and a .159 BAA.
Ryan Eades, RHP, LSU – Eades had his second straight tough outing, giving up five runs on eight hits in just four innings against Alabama. He allowed three extra-base hits, didn’t walk any batters and struck out three. He went up against Ryne Stanek last week and picked up his first loss, in what was his worst outing so far this season, just slightly worse than this week. He went four innings, allowing five runs on eight hits, three walks and he struck out five batters. Eades was topping out at 94 MPH early in the game. He got the win over Kansas the previous week, with one run allowed over 8.2 innings. He gave up just four hits and one walk, while striking out six hitters. Eades gave up 13 baserunners the prior Saturday night against Missouri, but still managed to throw eight shutout innings. He had decent results in his win over Auburn four weeks ago. Eades went 6.2 innings, giving up one run on seven hits and two walks, while striking out four. Baseball America ranked him as the 12th best college draft-eligible player in their pre-season rankings, and Keith Law ranked the right-hander 15th overall in the entire draft class in his mid-March rankings, but he has likely slipped a little due to these last two weeks. In ten starts, Eades is 7-1, 2.56 in 63.1 innings, with 59 strikeouts and a .269 BAA.
Chris Anderson, RHP, Jacksonville – At 6’4″ 225 lbs., he has the build of a workhorse pitcher and has been rated as high as tenth in this draft class, but that has likely changed. Anderson’s results haven’t been good recently and his quality of opposition is much lower than most of these pitchers rated higher. This week he bounced back a little, but it was against another very low ranked team. Against Northern Kentucky, he allowed one unearned run, on six hits and three walks, with five strikeouts. The walks and strikeouts are both against him norm this season. He went 4.1 innings last week against Kennesaw State, giving up seven earned runs, as his team lost 14-4. Anderson allowed nine hits, three walks and he recorded three strikeouts. The previous week against Stetson, he allowed four runs(one earned) over 6.2 innings, with six hits, one walk and five strikeouts. Three weeks ago 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. He is now 6-3, 2.59 in ten starts, with 83 strikeouts and 15 walks in 73 innings and a .227 BAA.
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). 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. Shipley had a difficult outing last Friday night against UNLV, but was still able to pick up the win. He pitched seven innings, allowing four runs on six hits and five walks, while picking up eight strikeouts. Shipley needed 122 pitches to get through his outing. The previous Friday night, he went eight innings against San Diego State, allowing two runs on three hits and three walks, with five strikeouts. Kendall Rogers posted an article about Shipley two weeks ago. This year, he has moved into top ten consideration with his 5-2, 2.59 record in ten starts, with 75 strikeouts in 73 innings and a .212 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. This week may be a sign of that power showing, as he hit two homers against Air Force. He plays defense and moves well for his size, but he is limited to a corner outfield spot, so adding more power to his game is imperative. Judge went 5-for-9, with five walks last week in New Mexico, a high offense stadium. Despite that, he drove in just one run as his team got swept. Two weeks ago, he went 3-for-12, with a home run. He went 3-for-4 off Braden Shipley three weeks ago when they met head-to-head . He is hitting .347 this year, tops on his team and he has a 1.031 OPS. He also leads his team with 38 strikeouts, which leads to questions about him having the bat quickness to be able to cover his large strike zone.
Kevin Ziomek, LHP, Vanderbilt – Ziomek had been making some strong impressions recently with scouts, but he wasn’t at his best these past two weeks. This week, the results were good, with two earned runs in eight innings, but he had just four strikeouts and he walked four batters. Last week, he went six innings, allowing four runs on six hits and three walks, while striking out six batters against Missouri. He threw 115 pitches in the game, 69 went for strikes. Two 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. He throws low-90’s with a nice slider and change-up. Ziomek is 7-2, 2.20 in ten starts, with 75 strikeouts in 73.2 innings.
Daily Draft Recaps
Friday Bryant Homers, Gray Dominates
Saturday Bryant Homers, Manaea Struggles
Sunday Bryant Homers, Renfroe Update