After a Friday night filled with two big pitching match-ups and staff aces pitching well, today we take a look at the best college hitters and how they have fared during the first two days of the weekend schedule. The 2014 draft begins on June 5th, just under nine 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.
Two pitchers to cover before we get into the bats. Carlos Rodon from North Carolina State, made his start this week on Saturday against Clemson. He hasn’t been living up to the first overall pick hype and his start this week didn’t help his case. He threw a complete game, going eight innings in the loss. Rodon allowed 11 hits, six runs(three earned), no walks and he had five strikeouts. His teammate Trea Turner has also been a bit disappointing. He went 0-for-3 with a walk and strikeout. Turner is hitting .283 this year and has dropped in the rankings for most. Early on, the 2011 draft pick of the Pirates, was ranked as the top college bat in this draft class.
The other pitcher going today was Andrew Suarez from Miami. He was taking on Virginia Tech on the road. Suarez has recently got some late first round mentions. He looked strong through seven, keeping his pitch count low and allowing just one run, but then ran into trouble in the eighth. Suarez finished with 7.2 innings, giving up three runs on eight hits, two walks and he struck out three hitters. He allowed a two-run homer in that last inning. Miami’s Dale Carey, a 2010 draft pick of the Pirates, went 1-for-4 with a stolen base and a run scored.
The big match-up among college bats this week came out of Oregon, where Oregon State took on Stanford. Outfielder Michael Conforto from OSU and Stanford third baseman Alex Blandino have both gone to the Pirates in mock drafts of the first round. Oregon State also has outfielder Dylan Davis, who could sneak into the first round with a strong finish, or be a second round possibility for the Pirates. On Friday, Blandino went 1-for-3 with a single and a walk. Conforto was 2-for-3 with a solo homer, hit-by-pitch and two runs scored. Davis went 1-for-3 with a walk and a double.
On Saturday, the two teams went scoreless until Oregon State won the game in the bottom of the 13th inning. Blandino went 1-for-3 with three walks. The two Oregon State stars had rough nights, each going 0-for-5 in the game. Conforto struck out twice.
Cal State Fullerton lost 3-1 to UC Davis on Friday. J.D. Davis drove in the only run, going 2-for-4 with a double. Third baseman Matt Chapman was 1-for-4 with a single. On Saturday, Chapman went 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI, while Davis had two hits and drove in a run. Davis was at second base on Friday, one of five different positions he has played this year, including pitching in relief. He moved to right field on Saturday. Chapman was a mid-first round pick early on, but recent mock drafts have him dropping out of the first round.
Catcher Max Pentecost from Kennesaw State, went 1-for-4 on Friday in a 5-0 loss to Florida Gulf Coast. On Saturday, he was 1-for-4 with an RBI and a walk. Pentecost now has a 15 game hitting streak and he will likely be the first catcher picked in the draft that has a strong chance to stay at catcher in the pros.
South Carolina has two bats that likely won’t be taken in the first round, but shouldn’t last too much longer. Joey Pankake, who can play outfield and infield, and catcher Grayson Greiner, have both had some top 50 mentions in this draft class, so one or both could be options in the second round for the Pirates. They played a doubleheader on Friday against Arkansas. Pankake went 0-for-2 with two walks in game one and 0-for-4 with a run scored and two errors in the second game. Grayson was 0-for-4 in game one and made an error. In game two, he went 0-for-4 again, this time striking out twice. On Saturday, South Carolina lost 7-0 to Arkansas. Pankake went 1-for-4 and Greiner was 0-for-2 with a walk when he left the game early due to the lopsided score.
San Francisco outfielder Bradley Zimmer is now the top college bat for some people. He went 1-for-4 on Friday against Loyola Marymount, with a walk and run scored. Zimmer is hitting .421/.488/.702 through his first 28 games, with seven homers and 12 stolen bases.
UC Irvine third baseman Taylor Sparks had two hits and two runs scored in a win over Hawaii on Friday. He started off slow this year, but has rebounded nicely, now hitting .333/.408/583 in 29 games, with 15 extra base hits and 13 walks. Sparks drew just six walks all of last season, so he has improved greatly on his biggest weakness.
Virginia’s outfielder Derek Fisher broke his hamate bone in March and it was said he would miss 4-6 weeks. He is still ranked as a possible mid-first round pick despite the missed time, but his coach recently announced that he won’t return for at least 3-4 more weeks. Fisher isn’t going to have much of a chance to let scouts see him before the draft now.
Finally, a high school note. Michael Gettys was taken by the Pirates in the latest mock draft from My MLB Draft. The outfielder from Georgia pitched on Friday and took the loss, but looked good at times. He struck out ten batters, but also allowed four runs over six innings. While he won’t be drafted as a pitcher, he does have a good arm and can hit for power, though there are concerns from a few about whether he will hit enough in the pros. Gettys homered and drove in four runs in his team’s previous game on Wednesday.