We are now in the 13th weekend of the college season and the start of the amateur draft is now just five weeks away. There are a couple big match-ups from the top of the draft class that are highlighted below, with Fresno State and New Mexico facing off and Ole Miss taking on Mississippi State. 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 12th 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 State
Mark Appel will starts Friday night at home against Oregon State. As of right now, Appel has been mentioned as one of the top two draft picks by most people, with the other spot going to Oklahoma pitcher Jonathan Gray. As long as he maintains this solid performances, he should be off the board very early. Outfielder Austin Wilson had been out with a muscle strain below his elbow since leaving the first game. He finally returned after missing 22 games and was hitting well upon his return for the first three weeks, then had a poor weekend as Stanford got swept by Oregon two weeks ago. He wasn’t much better this past week, going 4-for-18, though he did drive in seven runs. On Tuesday, Wilson went 2-for-4, with a stolen base against San Francisco. Stanford plays three games against Oregon State, starting Friday, and they have a Tuesday game at home against Santa Clara.
North Carolina VS Georgia Tech
Third baseman Colin Moran and the 1st ranked Tar Heels(42-4) take on Georgia Tech this weekend on the road, starting a three game series on Friday. The team had off last weekend but they had home games on Tuesday and Wednesday against James Madison. On Tuesday, he went 1-for-3, with two walks. On Wednesday, Moran went 0-for-1, with two walks. He is hitting .386 through 48 games, with 12 homers, 75 RBI’s, 44 walks and just 11 strikeouts. Baseball America had a recent article with draft expectations and they said the Pirates have been following Moran closely. North Carolina also has Pirates 2010 draft pick Kent Emanuel, who will start on Friday. He has put up impressive numbers this season and should go fairly high in the draft.
San Diego VS Portland
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 during the middle of April. Bryant has 25 home runs this season, one more than all of his teammates combined and three more than all of San Diego’s opponents have hit against them. He had a Monday game against UNLV and went 3-for-5, with two homers and three RBI’s . This week he plays three games, starting Friday, at home against Portland. San Diego also has a Tuesday road game against UC-Riverside and a Wednesday road game against UC-Irvine.
Gonzaga VS Appalachian State
Marco Gonzales, the LHP from Gonzaga did well against Pepperdine three weeks ago, but needed a lot of pitches to get through seven innings of work. The next week he wasn’t sharp against BYU, extending a long streak of poor-to-average starts for the once highly rated pitcher. This last week, he went eight innings against Santa Clara and struck out 12 batters, but he also gave up four runs on nine hits and three walks. Gonzaga will play at home against Appalachian State, starting with a Saturday doubleheader. Gonzales has likely dropped out of the Pirates range, with not enough chances from now until the start of the draft to turn things around. He has a very strong bat(.322 in 146 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 definitely his strong point though, with a nice four pitch mix, including a plus changeup and a low 90’s fastball.
Florida VS Auburn
Pitcher Jonathon Crawford will lead the Gators as they play three games this weekend at home against Auburn, starting on Friday. Crawford will likely pitch the opening game. Out of all the players rated highly this pre-season, Crawford has probably slipped the most, though Baseball America recently had him going 20th overall, much higher than most other people are predicting. 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 him as a reliever, rather than starter, which would hurt his stock.
Ole Miss VS Mississippi State
Bobby Wahl, a RHP from Ole Miss, is scheduled to pitch Friday night at home against Mississippi State. He will face off against Hunter Renfroe, an outfielder who has worked his way into the middle of the first round. Wahl has been solid of late, including this past week when he allowed one run over eight innings to Auburn. Two weeks ago, he allowed one run over seven innings to Kentucky. In the previous week, he was named SEC Pitcher of the Week for his complete game shutout against Tennessee. In his two prior outings, Wahl pitched well against strong teams despite control problems, going up against Vanderbilt one week and Alabama the next. He is 9-0, 1.21 in 12 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 three homers and he has held batters to a .178 BAA in 81.2 innings, but has also walked 35 batters. Baseball America posted an interesting article on Wahl this week. He may have worked himself into consideration for the 10-15 range, if teams believe his control problems are behind him.
Indiana State VS Alcorn State
Sean Manaea, was rated early on by some as the top college pitcher, even ahead of Mark Appel. Recently he has fallen behind both Appel and Jonathan Gray in the rankings and possibly as low as the #15 spot. 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 sidelined him all of last week. This past week, Manaea went against Evansville and threw four innings, allowing one run on two hits, four walks and he struck out five batters. There were reports that his velocity was down significantly, so his start this week will be closely monitored. He is 5-4, 1.61 in 61.1 innings, with 77 strikeouts, two homers allowed, and a .192 BAA.
Arkansas VS Tennessee
Ryne Stanek and Arkansas will play three games at home against Tennessee this weekend, starting on Friday. Arkansas is the #14 ranked team in the country. On Saturday, he went 5.1 innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and two walks, while striking out four batters against #23 ranked Kentucky. Stanek went 6.1 innings against Georgia last 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 threw eight shutout innings four starts 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 is his next start. Prior to that stretch, Stanek had trouble going deep in games this year and the results were just average, but he had been solid for 5-6 starts in a row before the rough start this week. He is scheduled to 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 Elon
Phillip Ervin, an outfielder from Samford, will play three games on the road against Elon this weekend, starting on Friday night. Ervin is hitting .339 this year, with a 1.093 OPS. He is second on his team with 11 homers and leads with 32 walks and 13 stolen bases(in 14 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 last week. There seems to be a split among scouts whether he can play center field in the pros. He isn’t finishing the season strong and some people are down on him because his team’s schedule is very weak. Samford had a Wednesday game against Auburn and Ervin went 1-for-4, with a double and a walk.
New Mexico VS Fresno State
D.J. Peterson from New Mexico will play three games this weekend on the road against Aaron Judge and Fresno State, starting Friday. Peterson has received some high praise recently(see mock draft below) and could go much higher than expected. 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. He is hitting .410, with 13 homers, 22 doubles, 57 runs scored, 58 RBI’s and a 1.319 OPS , through 43 games. 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 New Mexico
Aaron Judge, a 6’7″ outfielder from Fresno State, is rated among the top seven college hitters in this draft by most. Fresno State has a three game series this weekend at home against DJ Peterson and New Mexico starting Friday. Judge had a game Tuesday against Hawaii and went 3-for-4, with his ninth home run, his 13th double and two RBI’s. He has picked up his home run pace recently, though scouts expect him to hit more, as he puts on impressive displays in batting practice. He is hitting a team-leading .366 in 46 games, with a 1.090 OPS. His strikeout total, 40 in 172 AB’s, is a little high for a polished college hitter(though he has cut back recently) 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.
Oklahoma VS Oklahoma State
Jonathan Gray turned some heads early in the season 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. This past week, he wasn’t at his best, though still good. Against West Virginia, he allowed two runs over eight innings, with nine hits, one walk and six strikeouts. Two weeks ago, he no-hit Texas Tech for the first five innings. On the year, he is 8-1, 1.20 in 89.2 innings(12 starts), with 104 strikeouts and a .166 BAA. Oklahoma plays three games on the road against rival Oklahoma State beginning on Friday, when Gray should get his start.
LSU VS Texas A&M
Ryan Eades, a 6’3″ RHP, leads #2 ranked LSU against Texas A&M this weekend on the road, playing a three game series that starts on Thursday. Eades is scheduled to go on Saturday. This past weekend against Florida, he gave up two runs on three hits and three walks, with six strikeouts in six innings. The game was a blowout, so he was taken out at least an inning earlier than he could have went. He pitched against #15 ranked South Carolina two weekends ago and looked good through seven innings, allowing two runs. He really struggled in his previous two starts allowing five runs over four innings in each of those games. Eades was working his way into the middle of the first round, but those two weeks of poor showings likely hurt his chances. If he can put together a solid finish, building off his last start, he just may be a guy the Pirates look at with the #14 pick. Baseball America has an article on Eades and the trials he has endured to get where he is now.
Jacksonville VS Lipscomb
Chris Anderson has been rated as high as tenth in this draft class in mock drafts, though that has changed recently for most, seeing him drop into the 20’s in recent mock drafts. 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 before coming back to Earth a little bit. 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. He was hit hard this past weekend by Florida Gulf Coast and also walked five batters. This week his opponent is ranked #206 in the country, so there isn’t a whole lot he could prove this week. He is now 6-5, 3.05 in 12 starts, with 88 strikeouts and 24 walks in 85.2 innings and a .235 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 Lipscomb on Friday night.
Nevada VS UNLV
Braden Shipley has also got some top ten mentions recently, and for good reason. The 6’3″ righty is 7-2, 2.49 in 12 starts, with 78 strikeouts in 86.2 innings. This week against San Diego State, the overall results were good, but he wasn’t sharp. In 6.2 innings, he gave up 11 base runners and had just two strikeouts. Playing against a low-rated Air Force team last Friday, Shipley allowed three runs on six hits and a walk over seven innings, with just one strikeout. He went 7.1 innings three weeks ago against DJ Peterson and New Mexico, allowing four runs(two earned) on six hits and two walks, while picking up ten 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 at home against UNLV this weekend, playing a three game series that starts on Friday.
Vanderbilt VS Kentucky
Kevin Ziomek was a late addition to the watch list after he got mention in the mid-first round range, though he ran into a short mid-season spell of tough starts that don’t show up in the overall numbers. He pitched well this week against a high rated South Carolina team, allowing one run over eight innings, working very efficient with 92 pitches on the day. Ziomek allowed one run over seven innings, with nine strikeouts against Mississippi State the prior Friday. He had good results the previous week, but in eight innings he had four walks and four strikeouts, both off his usual standards. 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, so he has moved up slightly for some people. Ziomek is 9-2, 2.03 in 12 starts, with 88 strikeouts and a .174 BAA in 88.2 innings. Vanderbilt plays on the road against Kentucky 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, 2.41 in six starts and six relief appearances.
Conor Glassey sized up the draft class, strengths, weaknesses and where the Astros might go. The link can be found here.
Baseball America also has an article on Trey Ball, a HS pitcher that the Pirates could be looking at with either first round pick. The article highlights his ability on offense, which would make him a high round draft pick if he didn’t pitch.
Crawfish Boxes has released their new top ten in the draft. The player ranked ninth overall is JP Crawford, the Prep shortstop from California. Crawford has a .429/.524/.655 slash line in 25 games, with 15 stolen bases in 17 games.
Kiley McDaniel has posted a mock draft and he has some big surprises. If the Pirates went with his picks, they would take Prep catcher Reese McGuire and Stanford outfielder Austin Wilson. Interesting that he has the Pirates passing on Georgia HS outfielder Austin Meadows, who has been rated #3 to #6 most of the year.
Baseball America also released a mock draft on Thursday. Details can be found here.