Luke Weaver faced NC State on Friday night - Image Credit: Florida State University

Draft Prospect Watch: Luke Weaver Throws One-Hitter

It’s the seventh 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, just ten weeks away. The Pittsburgh Pirates have the 24th pick in the first round this year. They also picked 65th overall in the second round and 74th, which is their competitive balance pick. For more information on the top players in this draft class, check out our four-part draft preview.

Luke Weaver allowed just one hit on Friday night - Image Credit: Florida State University

Luke Weaver allowed just one hit on Friday night – Image Credit: Florida State University

Last Friday night, we focused on the top college pitchers in Keith Law’s prospect rankings, so we will use that list again, with a couple changes. He had Jordan Brink from Fresno State ranked and Brink moved to the bullpen. Law didn’t have Ole Miss’ Chris Ellis or Evansville’s Kyle Freeland listed and both have got first round mentions, so they are included below.

We start with Luke Weaver from Florida State, who pitched a gem against Boston College on Friday afternoon. He allowed just one hit over nine shutout innings. The only hit he gave up was a two out single in the seventh inning. Weaver walked two batters, struck out four and had 17 ground outs. He has a 2.53 ERA, a .219 BAA and 38 strikeouts in 46.1 innings.

Carlos Rodon and NC State take on Miami this weekend. The game was halted due to rain in the sixth, but Rodon got in his work and pitched well. He went six innings, giving up one run on four hits and three walks while striking out five batters. Game two of the series will feature Miami pitcher Andrew Suarez, who looks like a second round pick this year and could move up with a strong finish. On Wednesday, NC State’s Trea Turner hit a double and a home run, while driving in five runs. Early on, scouts were down on him because 21 of his first 22 hits were singles. Since then, he has homered four times and could be regaining his spot as the top college bat in this draft class.

Vanderbilt’s Tyler Beede took on another strong pitcher in Kentucky’s A.J. Reed, who could go in the second round. Beede went five innings, getting pulled in the sixth after the first two runners got on base. He allowed three runs on five hits and three walks, picking up four strikeouts. Reed outpitched the higher ranked Beede, giving up two runs over eight innings. He allowed nine hits, one walk and hit two batters, but still limited the damage. Reed threw 123 pitches, 84 for strikes.

Aaron Nola and LSU are at Florida this weekend and so is the bad weather. Their Friday night game was postponed and a doubleheader is now scheduled for Saturday.

Jeff Hoffman from East Carolina has not lived up to his early season rankings, which had him as high as second best overall for some people. He had a nice game on Friday against UMCB. Hoffman went seven innings, allowing two runs on a walk and six hits, while striking out six batters. The University of Maryland-Baltimore County isn’t exactly a powerhouse, but this is a good start for Hoffman, who now has a 3.80 ERA, with 45 strikeouts in 45 innings. He does have a strong .213 BAA, but has also walked a team-high 18 batters.

Sean Newcomb, the big lefty from Hartford, will pitch on Saturday in a doubleheader against Stony Brook.

TCU and Brandon Finnegan, go on the road against Oklahoma State this weekend. Finnegan surrendered one run over seven innings. He allowed five hits, three walks and he struck out eight batters. He threw 111 pitches, 69 for strikes.

Cal Poly’s Matt Imhof took on UC Davis on Friday night and dominated. He threw nine shutout innings, giving up four singles, no walks and he had 13 strikeouts. He now has 77 strikeouts on the season in 51.2 innings.

Erick Fedde and UNLV went on the road this weekend to take on Nebraska. Fedde went seven innings, giving up two runs on four hits, two walks and two strikeouts. He came into the game with a 1.88 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 43 innings.

Zech Lemond and Rice take on Middle Tennessee State in a three game series. Lemond was the 50th round pick of the Pirates in 2011 and now could be up to a late first round pick this year. He went 6.1 innings on Friday, allowing two runs on six hits, a walk and five strikeouts. Lemond had a 1.06 ERA in his first 34 innings coming into Friday night.

Ole Miss and Chris Ellis traveled to Alabama on Friday. He may wish he didn’t, because Ellis had a rough outing. He went just two innings, getting hit around for six runs on seven hits, three were doubles. Ellis didn’t walk anyone and struck out three batters. He was making some noise early this season, moving up into the first round for one expert, but this game will hurt his chances. Not many were sold on him that high and Keith Law didn’t have him in his top 50.

Kyle Freeland and Evansville host Eastern Kentucky this weekend. He had another strong outing, allowing one run over eight innings in the win. Freeland gave up five hits, walked one and struck out ten batters. He has put up some strong BB/K numbers this year, a streak that started back in the Cape Cod League in the Summer.

If you missed it from Wednesday, we covered the first day of the National High School Invitational. It’s a tournament between 16 of the top teams in the country and it includes many of the top prep players. Action in the NHSI wraps up on Saturday and we will have more news and notes from it on Sunday.

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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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  • meatygettingsaucy

    Weaver looks to be a solid No. 4 starter at the MLB level who could move quickly. I definitely like his stuff but, if he was available, I’d pass and go for more upside. While riskier, the reward is also greater.

    • John Dreker

      I think I would too. His floor is definitely higher than most in the draft, but you pretty much know what you are getting. He is the type you would absolutely love to get in the second round

      • meatygettingsaucy

        Who is your favorite for the Pirates to take. Not necessarily your favorite in the draft class but who would you have the Pirates take at No. 24

        • John Dreker

          I want them to take the best pitcher they can get, then go for a strong corner infielder in the second round. There are just too many good pitchers in the first round to pass on them. I’m looking at Sean Newcomb and wondering if he will actually drop to them. Pitching for Hartford could hurt his stock, but he is a big lefty workhorse that throws hard. If you could get him, then a third baseman like Alex Blandino or someone like Joey Pankake with the second pick, maybe grab another nine picks later, you’ll get a top notch starter and two legit bats that should be major league regulars. Then you can take projectable HS pitchers. I think you take the best available, but when you have one of the first 64 picks, you need to make sure you hit on that first rounder, so if it’s a decision between Newcomb and someone like Sean Blewett(he went to the Pirates in an early mock draft), then I’m going Newcomb

          • meatygettingsaucy

            Newcomb would be a big one since he fits so well with what the Pirates like: big frame, steep downward plane on fastball, developing changeup, potential ace upside. Saw his name as high as Top 10 earlier in the year and would love to see him at No. 24. Not a big fan of Stanford players in general (and it has nothing to do with Appel) but I am intrigued by Pankake from South Carolina. He’s got a bunch of above average tools that could translate well. Have you seen Shane Benes or Sean Bouchard? Both high school bats who aren’t getting a lot of attention but are projected second rounders. Benes is a SS and Bouchard is a 3B

            • John Dreker

              I have heard Benes mentioned a few times recently. I have a new mock draft for Sunday night and a lot of thought was put into it. Has Jack Flaherty going to the Pirates, which is a new name

              • meatygettingsaucy

                Flaherty is a really nice player. I saw him at a Showcase last summer and he has the tools both at the plate and at 3B. I’ve actually been struggling to understand why he hasn’t been mentioned higher on mock drafts

                • John Dreker

                  Some people are actually pushing him as a pitcher now, saying he is so good without concentrating on the mound, so imagine what you could get if he goes full-time. It’s tough to give up on him as a power hitting third baseman though, especially in this draft class

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