Draft Prospect Watch: Jeff Hoffman Picks Up Fourteen Strikeouts

It’s the third weekend of the college baseball season and like every Friday night, we will focus on the Friday night starters that are draft eligible this year. The 2014 draft begins on June 5th. The Pittsburgh Pirates have the 24th pick in the first round this year.  For more information on the top players in this draft class, check out our four-part draft preview.  2014-Draft

The big game from Friday night was Vanderbilt against Stanford. Vanderbilt’s Tyler Beede is one of the top pitchers in this draft, while third baseman Alex Blandino from Stanford is one of the better college hitters. Beede went seven innings, allowing one run on three hits, three walks and he had six strikeouts. Blandino went 1-for-2 with a single, RBI and two walks. The single came after Beede left the game.

Erick Fedde from UNLV hoped to take on Air Force Friday night, but the game was rained out. It will be made up Saturday as part of a doubleheader. It was the first rain out for UNLV at home in nine years.

East Carolina’s Jeff Hoffman had a big game against Western Kentucky on Friday. In eight innings, he gave up one unearned run on five hits, one walk and he struck out 14 batters. In three starts, he is 0-1, 2.53 in 21.1 innings, with 14 hits, six walks and 26 strikeouts. Hoffman projects to be a top five pick this year and this start proves why he is rated so high.

Brandon Finnegan, a left-handed pitcher from TCU, is getting a lot of press recently. In his first two starts, he threw seven shutout innings each time. On Friday night, he took on Sam Houston State and struggled a bit over his 6.2 innings. Finnegan allowed five earned runs on eight hits and two walks, plus a hit batter. On the bright side, he was able to pick up 11 strikeouts, giving him 33 strikeouts in 20.2 innings this year. Kendall Rogers was tweeting about the game and had Finnegan looking good early on with a 93-95 MPH fastball and a plus curve, but he also had some control issues.

Kyle Freeland from Evansville shutout Western Illinois for nine innings, but didn’t factor in the final decision. Freeland allowed two singles, didn’t walk anyone and picked up nine strikeouts. It was a nice bounce back game for him, because his first two starts resulted in a 6.00 ERA and 12 hits allowed in nine innings.

Luke Weaver and Florida State took on Miami at home in a battle of top twenty teams. Weaver went six innings, giving up three runs(one earned) on six hits, two walks and he struck out seven batters. Miami’s Dale Carey was a 21st round draft pick of the Pirates in 2010. He went 1-for-3 with a single and run scored against Weaver. He struck out in the seventh after Weaver left the game. Carey came into the game with a 1.015 OPS in his first seven games.

Aaron Nola and LSU played Yale on Friday night. It was just the second time the two teams have played each other and the first time since 1908. This game was a one-sided mismatch and part of the reason was the pitching of Nola. He threw six shutout innings, giving up five hits, one walk and he struck out ten hitters. Three of the hits were infield hits. Nola has now thrown 45 straight shutout innings. Christian Ibarra from LSU was drafted by the Pirates last year, but decided to go back to school for his senior year. He was part of the big offense that scored 19 runs, hitting a two-run homer in the fifth inning and he singled and scored a run during LSU’s ten run first inning.

North Carolina State’s Carlos Rodon, widely considered the top pick in this draft, will pitch Saturday against UCLA. Also pitching on Saturday is Sean Newcomb, a huge lefty from Hartford that rates as a first round pick.

News, Notes and Links

The seasons for most high school teams will be starting soon, so there should be more news about the top prep players soon. Baseball America has a list of some of the best high school games to look forward to this year.

Dan Kirby from Through The Fences has a list of ten potential draft picks on the rise, a few of them were Friday night starters mentioned above.

MLB.com has updates on two of the top pitchers in this draft, Tyler Beede and Brandon Finnegan. There was also a key match-up between two of the top high school players from Georgia. Mentioned in that article is Michael Gettys, who went 2-for-3 on Friday, while throwing six innings with no earned runs and 11 strikeouts.

Nathan Rode tweeted today that prep infielder Shane Benes tore his ACL. Rode’s ranked him 46th overall among high school players in this draft class. Benes is the son of Andy Benes, long-time major league pitcher.

Baseball America posted a link to their YouTube video channel, which includes new videos for many of the top players in this draft. It’s a link worth checking out for updates at least once a week.

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John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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  • Matt Beam

    Hoping he doesn’t blow up too much this yr – would look great at #24

    Matt Chapman, 3B, Cal State Fullerton (34)

    The 6’-2”, 200 pound right-hander has found his groove at the plate recently. Over his last three games, he has gone 7-for-16 with two doubles, a home run and five RBI for the Titans. A gifted defender with a plus arm and the range to stick at the hot corner, scouts wanted to see more from his bat this year, including power. It’s only seven games, but a .344/.417/.531 slash line is a great sign.

    • John Dreker

      I’ll have more on him tonight, but as a spoiler, he hit a three-run homer and a double last night

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