The twelfth weekend of the college baseball season has come to a close and the draft starts exactly one month from today. 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 scouting reports and daily stats. They 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 still been good, but not up to his normal standards. This week he struck out 13 against Arizona State, but had a tough fourth inning and wasn’t able to finish up the game. Last 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, HS pitcher Kohl Stewart or one of two HS bats in Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier(see links at bottom for more on all three HS players).
Sean Manaea, LHP, Indiana State- Manaea missed last weekend with a hip injury. The injury wasn’t considered serious and he made his next start this weekend. He went four innings, allowing one run on two hits and four walks. Manaea struck out five, but needed 82 pitches to get through the fourth inning, leading to his early departure. 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 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 had been solid in each of his last four starts prior to this week, after a slow beginning to the season that including him having trouble going deep into games. Those stamina questions have likely been erased recently despite his performance on Saturday against Kentucky. He went 5.1 innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and two walks, while striking out four batters. He threw 89 pitches on the night.
Colin Moran, 3B, North Carolina- He was off this weekend, though he did have a mid-week game in which he hit his 12th homer of the year and drove in four runs. Moran had a big week three weeks ago, but has cooled off a bit since. He went 1-for-9 last 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 and they are said to be very high on him. He could 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 almost all season, showing occasional signs of the pitching ability that got him listed here in the first place. Last week he threw 4.2 scoreless innings and was only taken out early due to the fact he rolled his ankle that Thursday, which caused his start to be pushed back. He actually finished his previous outing with 4.2 scoreless innings as well, so he had a nice little streak going into this week against LSU. Crawford needed 98 pitches to get through 5.1 innings this week, allowing two runs on six hits and three walks, with four strikeouts. Due to his poor overall results, despite excellent stuff, some scouts see Crawford as a future reliever. He has a rough delivery, which still produced excellent velocity along with command issue and could be compared to the Pirates Vic Black in that regard.
Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego- Bryant set his school’s single season and career home run marks two weeks ago, as he put on quite a show from the mid-week games until Sunday. Last weekend against San Francisco, he went 3-for-11, with a homer, double and three walks. All three hits came during the Saturday game. This past week against St Mary’s, he went 1-for-9, with three walks and three HBP. The one hit was his 23rd home run. Bryant also had a mid-week game in which he went 0-for-4, so it was a tough week for the batting average. 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 five outings and in each of his last three games, he has shown good control. Last week he allowed one run over seven innings to Kentucky. This week he went eight innings against Auburn, allowing one run on four hits and two walks, while picking up five strikeouts. 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 last 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. This week was relatively quiet, going 5-for-19 in four games, with a double and three RBI’s. 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 last week. He had been hitting well since returning a month ago, but against Oregon he went 2-for-13, with two singles. One of those singles was an infield hit. This week(counting the mid-week game), he was 4-for-18, with a homer and seven RBI’s. 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 three-hit games to finish up this weekend against Air Force. Last week he also had two big games at home against UNLV. On Friday, he collected three hits, then after a tough Saturday(0-for-3, walk, 2 K), he came up big on Sunday. Peterson reached base five times in his team’s 14-13 win. He is hitting .410 this year, with 22 doubles, 13 homers and a 1.319 OPS. 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 six weeks combined after a very strong stretch of six starts to open the season. Gonzales gave up four runs to Santa Clara on nine hits and three walks this week. There were some good signs from the game, namely 12 strikeouts and the fact he gave his team eight innings after it looked like he was done after six frames. 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 last weekend against Texas Tech, whom he no-hit for the first five innings. He struggled a little against West Virginia this week(for him at least), giving up two earned runs over eight innings, with nine hits, one walk and six strikeouts. Gray has emerged as a possible first overall pick after looking like a mid-round pick to start the year. His fastball hits triple digits and is the best in this draft class. He also has a plus slider that keeps getting better. It is highly unlikely he is around when the Pirates pick in the ninth spot.
Ryan Eades, RHP, LSU – Eades was very bad two weeks in a row, so he really needed to step up last 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. 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 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 had shown excellent control this year and the ability to strike batters out until recently. Just last weekend, he walked four hitters and only managed three strikeouts in 6.2 innings. This week was even worse. Against Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday, he went six innings, giving up four runs on seven hits and five walks, with two strikeouts. 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 last 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. This week against San Diego State, the overall results were much better, but again he wasn’t sharp. In 6.2 innings, he gave up 11 base runners and had just two strikeouts. Three strikeouts over 13.2 innings isn’t a good sign for someone with his stuff.
Aaron Judge, OF, Fresno State – Judge hit two homers two weekends ago, a possible sign that he could be showing the power that scouts project for him when they see his size and watch him in batting practice. Against San Diego State last weekend, he went 0-for-6 between Friday and Saturday, then had a nice game on Sunday, when he picked up three hits. This week against UNLV, he had four walks and five hits, including his sixth home run and a triple. 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, but he is still hitting .357 this year with occasional power.
Kevin Ziomek, LHP, Vanderbilt – Ziomek didn’t pitch so well for two straight weeks, so last week’s start was big for him to get back on track. Against Hunter Renfroe(see Sunday link below) and Mississippi State, Ziomek did just that, with one run on four hits and three walks in seven innings. He struck out nine batters, including Renfroe twice. He stayed on pace this week against a tough South Carolina team, holding them to one run over eight innings. Ziomek needed just 92 pitches, didn’t walk anyone and picked up four strikeouts. There has been talk of him as a mid-first round pick.
Draft Predictions Part One: The Nine Possibilities At Nine
From everything that I’ve read, there are probably six players that the Pirates can assume they won’t get a chance to pick, meaning they would have to fall to them. Mark Appel, Jonathan Gray and Kris Bryant among college players, Clint Frazier, Austin Meadows and Kohl Stewart among HS players.
The next group that seem to be in the Pirates range is a pretty large group because of the two picks. Splitting it up for each pick and assuming those six are off the board, the next group includes Colin Moran, Ryne Stanek, Sean Manaea, Braden Shipley from college players and HS catchers Jon Denney, Reese McGuire(comp of those two in the Saturday link below), 1B Dominic Smith, SS JP Crawford and LHP Trey Ball. This is the group I would concentrate on when looking for possible picks, because it goes 15 deep when you include the top six players, one spot past the Pirates second pick.
There are also players they might consider with the 14th pick, but not in the 9th spot. That is where you would throw in most of the guys listed above, Austin Wilson and Ryan Eades seem to be in the lead, plus Mississippi State outfielder Hunter Renfroe(see below) and some HS names such as Ryan Boldt or Ian Clarkin, who were featured here. The only name above I’d totally eliminate is Jonathon Crawford, who remains listed because, a) we have followed him since the start, and b) he could be a strong second round option if he should fall that far.
Some of those players above have been listed in the 40’s as well as mid-first round, it just depends on who you ask and what they think their upside can be in the pros. Someone like Aaron Judge has huge power upside and is athletic, but strikes out a lot and hasn’t shown in-game power. Some team might take a chance on him early because of potential, while others might see a corner outfielder who won’t hit enough to be productive.
To me, the draft looks to be about 16-18 players deep before you reach the pack where it gets really crowded. That is good for the Pirates with their first two picks, as well as their #51 overall pick in the second round, which looks like it has a good chance to be a solid player
Daily Draft Recaps
Friday Meadows VS Frazier comp
Saturday Bryant Homers, Mercado update
Sunday Recap of college hitters, Hunter Renfroe, former Pirates picks and Kohl Stewart