Draft Prospect Watch: Aaron Nola Continues His Impressive Streak

It’s the fourth 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 interesting match-up on Friday night was in Tallahassee, as Florida State’s Luke Weaver, took on Jake Stinnett and Maryland. Weaver is a possibility with the Pirates in the first round, if he lasts that long. Most people rate him as a mid-first round pick now. Stinnett was the Pirates 29th round pick in 2013 and he has been lights out early this season. In his last start, he threw a no-hitter. In his previous game, he gave up one hit over eight shutout innings. On Friday, it was Weaver that looked better on the mound. He went seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits and one walk, while striking out eight batters. Stinnett went six innings, giving up five runs(four earned) on six hits and three walks, while striking out four. Florida State won the opener by a 15-3 score. Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the DH role. As a closer, he has allowed one hit and no runs over six innings.

Brandon Finnegan from TCU, took on Michigan State on Friday night and dominated until he got to that 27th out. Finnegan had two very good starts to begin the season, then slipped back a little against Sam Houston State last week. He was back to business against Michigan State and kept them off the board for 8.2 innings. With his team up 1-0 in the top of the ninth, Finnegan allowed a two out, two run homer. He allowed just four hits, one walk and he picked up 12 strikeouts.

Vanderbilt’s Tyler Beede went seven strong innings against Winthrop. He allowed one run on six hits and no walks, while striking out nine batters. Beede threw a total of 97 pitches, 60 for strikes. The only run came on a solo homer.

Aaron Nola from LSU came into Friday’s game with 45 straight innings without giving up an earned run. He kept that streak alive against Purdue, throwing eight shutout innings. He had 12 strikeouts and allowed just three base runners, two singles and a hit batter in the eighth inning. Christian Ibarra went 1-for-3 and was hit by a pitch. He was drafted by the Pirates last year, but decided to return to LSU for his senior year.

Erick Fedde from UNLV took on New Mexico on Friday and went six innings. He gave up two runs on four hits and three walks, with five strikeouts. Fedde is ranked as a late first round pick by most experts.

Hartford’s Sean Newcomb took on East Tennessee State and threw seven shutout innings. The big lefty allowed two hits and three walks, while striking out eight. There was a report that scouts were down on him a little, which could actually be good news for the Pirates. He’s a 6’5″, 240 pound workhorse, who can touch mid-90’s with his fastball. With the amount of top notch pitching in this draft class, a good starter like Newcomb could work his way down to the 24th pick.

For the second week in a row, the top pitcher in this draft class, Carlos Rodon, won’t make his start on Friday. North Carolina State’s game against Notre Dame was rained out and the teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday. Jeff Hoffman from East Carolina is considered by many as the second best pitcher in this draft class. His team plays a doubleheader against Marshall on Saturday. Weather also canceled the entire weekend for Kyle Freeland and Evansville. In his first three starts, he was 1-1, 3.00 in 18 innings with 20 strikeouts.

Zech Lemond, the 50th round selection of the Pirates in 2011, got the Friday night start for Rice and impressed. He went 6.2 innings, giving up one unearned run on two hits and three walks against Old Dominion. Lemond struck out ten batters.

A little prep news to cap off tonight. We did a short feature on Grant Holmes last week and since then he has been even more impressive. Dan Kirby tweeted out that Holmes went five innings on Friday in a non-league game and he had 12 strikeouts. There were reports that Holmes was hitting 98 MPH, but Kirby mentioned that he has hit the 100 MPH mark since then.

Finally, Luis Ortiz from Sanger High School, went five shutout innings on Thursday, allowing one hit and he struck out 12 batters. He is a 6’3″, 220 pound righty, who has hit 97 MPH. In his previous start, he threw four no-hit innings. I’ve included his profile/video from Big League Futures, along with a second video below courtesy of YouTube user rkyosh007, who has many other prospect videos uploaded as well. Ortiz rates as a mid-first round pick right now.

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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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  • Ian Rothermund

    Where does Beede from Vanderbilt project to go in the draft? My grandfather is a Vandy alumn, and he’s constantly giving me updates. The guy seems legit.

    • Ian Rothermund

      Scratch that. Seems a bit optimistic to hope he would fall from where a lot of the projections show him going.

      • John Dreker

        Beede would definitely have to drop in the rankings for the Pirates to get him, but it wouldn’t be unheard of for that to happen. Supposedly, Sean Manea looks real strong this Spring and the Royals got him 34th overall after he struggled a little late and had a couple minor injuries. He was rated #1 for a short time by a few people during last season.

  • N_Cap

    Seems like there is a lot of good pitching in the draft this year, im sure one or 2 guys will still be around when the Pirates draft, if it be a manea case, or braden shipley/ryne stanek were teams take hitters rather than arms

    • John Dreker

      There is a ton of pitching in this draft. Once more HS teams start playing, there will be at least ten prep arms to follow, although I’ll be able to get a better idea of who the Pirates might have a chance at once some mock drafts come out. Now I’m just mentioning anyone that gets multiple mentions in the first round. It seems like there will be a chance to get a strong starting pitcher in the first round and then a nice corner infield bat with the second pick, if they choose to go that route

      • N_Cap

        I think it all around could be a very strong draft class early on.

        • John Dreker

          What I am hearing is that there are very few bats worth watching in the first round, especially college bats, so that’s why I think they can get a decent bat that should move quick with their second pick. There are a lot of third baseman and I wouldn’t be surprised if they have a couple nice ones to choose from in the second round. There will definitely be 4-5 big arms to choose from in the first round, there’s just too many of them to all be gone in the first 23 picks.

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