Draft Prospect Watch: Moran Finally Homers, Then Does It Again

The fourth weekend of college baseball started yesterday. Last night we updated some of the bigger names that were on the mound  Friday, but some other pitchers ranked late-first to second round, also had good games as seen below. The schedule for the top college players this weekend can be found here. Check out the draft preview posted here and the recap of the third week’s action here. Just a reminder, the Pirates pick #9 and #14 in this year’s June amateur draft, so for the duration of the college season, leading up to draft day, we are following the players closely that are ranked in that range.

Indiana State left-hander Sean Manaea, finally got back on the mound after missing his start last week due to the entire weekend being canceled by snow and cold weather. Going up against Mercer today, he went six innings for the win, allowing two runs on three hits and two walks, while striking out eight batters. Manaea threw 97 pitches, 64 were for strikes.

Colin Moran from North Carolina took on Wake Forest today. He came into the game with just one extra base hit on the season, a double. The third baseman started off the game today with homers in both the first and second innings. He finished the game 3-for-5, with six RBI’s, two walks and three runs scored, as NC won 20-6. While he wasn’t hitting for any power prior to tonight, Moran was still getting on base at a nice clip(.507 OBP after tonight) and he has struck out just two times all year, showing excellent plate patience and discipline.

Sn Diego’s Kris Bryant had hit six homers over his last six games coming into today. He continued that torrid pace in the first game of today’s doubleheader. Playing against Saint Louis, Bryant went 3-for-5, with a homer and a double, as San Diego rolled to an 11-3 win. He scored twice and drove in two runs. In game two against Holy Cross, the third baseman didn’t see much to hit. He had three walks and was hit by a pitch, finishing the night 0-for-1, with four runs scored.

From late Friday night in Hawaii, Marco Gonzales has another strong outing for Gonzaga. The left-hander allowed one run over eight innings, giving up four hits, no walks and he struck out five batters. Gonzales improved to 3-1, 2.10 in 30 innings, with 27 strikeouts and just four walks.

A new player to watch, who really impressed tonight, is Jonathan Gray from Oklahoma. The 6’4″ RHP hit 100 MPH tonight against UCLA in his start. He threw seven shutout innings, recording eight strikeouts, while working in the 94-100 MPH range all nigh. According to Aaron Fitt from Baseball America, who was at the game, he was showing a nice slider and changeup tonight as well. Gray was considered a late first round pick to start the year, but there is buzz now that he could be moving into the top 10 area.

Tom Windle, a lefty starter for Minnesota, threw a no-hitter last night against Western Illinois. Coming into the season, he was rated as a late first round pick, but with a performance like this and with the struggles of some players ahead of him, he could move into the Pirates range with their second first round pick. Here is a pre-season profile for him from Minor League Ball. Baseball America rated him 19th overall among draft-eligible college players in their pre-season rankings.

Jason Hursh from Oklahoma State pitched a terrific game yesterday against Loyola Marymount. The sixth round pick of the Pirates in 2010 went eight innings, allowing one run on two hits and two walks, with seven strikeouts. Hursh is 1-0, 2.00 in four starts, holding batters to a .196 average in 27 innings. He projects as a second round draft pick.

  • I wouldn’t reach to take a college player over a better HS kid, but in this draft, I don’t think you have to worry about that. You figure Appel, Stanek, Manaea, Gray, Wahl and Gonzales are six guys right there. Moran and Bryant will go high. On the HS side, Austin Meadows will be picked well before the Pirates get a chance. I think five other HS players could go in those first 14 picks, maybe six. That should leave a strong college pitcher left over when the Pirates pick the second time. At pick #9 Gray might be a huge upside pitcher to take.
    Stewart has dropped one spot on BA’s list since the start of the season and he hasn’t played yet due to a shoulder injury. Right now, he looks like he will be picked around 20 or so and will be a very tough sign

  • The Pirates have to analyze this draft very closely, especially Pitchers. I looked at Windle and he seems to be a strong candidate, but he will already be 21 at the draft. The Pirates are loaded at AAA equivalent pitchers, with another 6 or 8 strong pitchers down at the LoA/Hi A Level, and many of them are younger than 21. If we think a guy like Windle can start at an advanced level it may be worth the draft pick, but IMO, having HS arms starting low and getting to Lo A/Hi A or better by age 21 could be the better route to take.

    • This draft now looks like it could be top-heavy with college pitching, but not every team will take a college pitcher with a handful of good HS players and Bryant/Moran available too. I’d really like them to get a college arm and bat. The reason is, they would be on the same pace as guys like Polanco/Hanson/Heredia/Bell, adding a wave of talent all at once.
      You draft HS players, especially catching which seems to be a deep spot, they are going to be 3-4 years behind that group. With Cole and Taillon, McCutchen/Walker/Alvarez, you want to get a great group together for a run of more than one year.
      Pirates have said it often, they like the steady stream of talent approach, but I have to think at sometime, you need to turn that stream into a wave and you’d rather do that by the draft, as opposed to emptying the farm system for a run

      • From what I’ve heard, Marco Gonzales would make a quick jump to the majors. He may not have huge upside, but if he is a #3 starter, that is fine. He has an advanced feel for pitching, something you hear a lot with the International players, which means they don’t pitch like your normal 16 year olds. For a college pitcher, that means the same advancement compared to his peers.
        He has a four pitch mix, with decent velocity and a plus plus change-up. If you could get him and Bryant or Moran, you have two players that look like they could be helping you at the majors within three years.

        • Do you think any of the other college pitchers available there might have a bit more upside? I know he’s been a bit up and down this year, but Wahl sounds a little bit better.
          Also…is it me or does it sound like this is one of the weakest HS arms classes in years? Doesn’t sound like there are any really in contention for top 10 at this point.

          • Wahl supposedly had an issue with the finger on his throwing hand and that hampered him last week. He had a nice start this week, so we will see if he can maintain the good stuff and say with confidence that the finger injury was the real issue.
            I think there will be a good pitcher when they pick, might be someone with a higher upside than Gonzales but also a lower floor. He is an advanced pitcher, four pitches, decent velocity, lefty, one plus plus pitch. That isn’t bad for the 9/14 pick.
            The questions coming into this season were the college bats. Bryant looks to be legit, but scouts/experts were saying there were no sure stars among college bats this year.
            The best HS arm is Trey Ball and there is a chance he is a position player, which they think is a better spot for him. At this point, a HS arm looks like a slight reach at the 14th pick. Akin to taking the 20-25th best player with the pick

            • In regards to the HS pitchers, it didn’t look like there is anyone close to Fried/Giolito quality. What about Kohl Stewart?
              Gonzales doesn’t sound too bad, he just doesn’t thrill me. If both Moran and Bryant are gone (I really like Bryan), I’m curious as to what they’d go after. And while I understand trying to “time” a wave of talent, I think you may pass over a guy who can be a far better player. I think you just have to be careful.