The tenth weekend of the college season is about to get under way, and the start of the amateur draft is now just seven weeks away. The Pirates have the #9 and #14 picks in the upcoming June amateur draft. Throughout the college/HS season, leading up to the draft, we will cover the interesting players that are being discussed in the Pirates draft range. There will also be daily notes on past picks by the Pirates who went unsigned. For a recap of the ninth week, check out our article posted here. Our preview of the draft can be read here. The draft takes place June 6-8.
Stanford VS Arizona
Mark Appel will starts Friday night at home against Arizona. As of right now, Appel has been mentioned anywhere in the top four spots in the draft along with two HS hitters, Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier, and Oklahoma pitcher Jonathan Gray. Outfielder Austin Wilson had been out with a muscle strain below his elbow since leaving the first game. He finally returned two weeks ago and has been hitting well since. On Tuesday, Wilson went 3-for-5, with two runs, a double and an RBI against Pacific. Stanford plays three games against Arizona, starting Friday, and they have a Tuesday game against San Jose State.
North Carolina VS Duke
Third baseman Colin Moran leads the 1st ranked Tar Heels(36-2) into action this weekend as they play three games at home against Duke starting with a doubleheader on Saturday. Moran played yesterday against Elon and went 2-for-4, with a triple and four RBI’s. On Tuesday against Coastal Carolina, he went 0-for-3, with an RBI. He is now hitting .396 on the year, with 61 RBI’s. North Carolina also has Kent Emanuel, the 19th round pick of the Pirates in the 2010 draft, who will likely start Saturday. Emanuel is a possible late first or second round pick at this point. North Carolina also has home games on Tuesday against UNC Wilmington and Wednesday against Charlotte.
San Diego VS Santa Clara
Another third baseman to watch is Kris Bryant from San Diego. At 6’5″, 215 he is a little bigger than Moran, and Bryant is a right-handed hitter. He is rated by some as the best college hitter available in this draft, though Moran may have surpassed him recently. Besides the hot corner, he has also played outfield and first base, though he profiles best defensively in right field. Bryant has been struggling recently, his strike outs have gone way up and his power, and overall hitting have not been good. He played Tuesday night against UC Santa Barbara and went 2-for-4, with two home runs and three RBI’s, so possibly he is breaking out of his two week slump. Bryant has 17 homers this season, which is two more homer than all of his teammates combined and two more than San Diego’s opponents have hit this year. San Diego plays a three game series on the road starting Friday against Santa Clara, then home Tuesday against UC Riverside, then on the road Wednesday against UC Santa Barbara.
Gonzaga VS Pepperdine
Marco Gonzales from Gonzaga is coming off an average outing last Friday against St Mary’s College and two straight poor starts, the first coming against Loyola Marymount three weeks ago, then a rain-shortened outing against Portland the next week. Gonzaga will play on the road against Pepperdine on Friday night. Gonzales needs to turn things around quickly to stay in the Pirates range, as many college pitchers have been mentioned in the mid-first round talks recently. He is 4-2, 2.71 in 63 innings, with 60 strikeouts and a .243 BAA. Pepperdine has two former Pirates draft picks, pitcher Jackson McClelland and Aaron Brown, who pitches and plays the outfield.
Florida VS Missouri
Pitcher Jonathon Crawford will lead the Gators as they play three games this weekend on the road against Missouri. Two weeks ago I wrote that “It looked like he was falling out of first round consideration, but Crawford had a brilliant outing on Saturday. He threw a complete game shutout against Ole Miss, allowing just two hits and two walks. He may have stopped the free-fall, but he still needs to prove it wasn’t just a one shot deal, because he has been very bad at times this year and some scouts don’t like his delivery, which is described as not smooth.” Crawford went out and got hit hard, plus was wild against Mississippi State, then had a strong bounce-back start against 8th ranked South Carolina this past week, so he is right back in the same situation he was in two weeks ago. He is running short on time to get back in the Pirates range.
Ole Miss VS Tennessee
Bobby Wahl, a RHP from Ole Miss, is scheduled to pitch Friday night on the road against Tennessee. Wahl has pitched well despite control problems against Vanderbilt two weeks ago, and Alabama this past week. He is 7-0, 1.40 in nine starts and his only problem seems to be wildness, which has plagued him in a few starts, limiting his innings in those games. Wahl has allowed just one homer and posted a .196 BAA in 57.2 innings, but has also walked 30 batters.
Indiana State VS Illinois State
Sean Manaea, was rated early on by some as the top college pitcher, even ahead of Mark Appel. Recently he has fallen slightly behind both Appel and Jonathan Gray in the rankings. The left-hander has pitched under some adversity this year and he’s done well in spite of it. Manaea pitched seven shutout innings three weeks ago, throwing 100 total pitches. The most impressive part, is that he did that with a sprained ankle. He was injured on the last play of his previous start, when he had to make the tag on a play at the plate. A couple weeks earlier, he had his start pushed back eight days due to poor weather that wiped out an entire week’s schedule. This week he threw six shutout innings against Wichita State, after having his start pushed back two days due to a minor hip injury. Indiana St begins a three game series on the road, with a doubleheader on Saturday, against Illinois State. Manaea will get the start in one of the Saturday games. He is 5-2, 1.21 in 52 innings, with 63 strikeouts, no homers allowed, and a .184 BAA.
Arkansas VS Texas A&M
Ryne Stanek and Arkansas will play three games at home against Texas A&M this weekend, starting on Friday. Arkansas is the #12 ranked team in the country. Stanek threw eight shutout innings two weeks ago against Alabama, then followed it up with 6.2 scoreless innings against #2 ranked LSU this past week. He took on #6 ranked South Carolina four weeks ago and threw a three-hit complete game, allowing just two unearned runs in the 6-2 win. Prior to that start, Stanek had trouble going deep in games this year and the results were just average. He reverted back to his old ways three weeks ago, needing 92 pitches to get through just four innings in a loss to Mississippi State. He will likely start Saturday’s game. Baseball America has a story for subscribers about Stanek, while Jonathan Mayo from MLB.com also has an article on him.
Samford VS Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Phillip Ervin, an outfielder from Samford, will play three games at home against Arkansas-Pine Bluff this weekend, starting on Friday night. Ervin played Tuesday against Troy University and went 0-2, with two walks. He ended up pitching a scoreless inning in relief, a role who occasionally fills. Ervin is hitting .364 this year, with a 1.209 OPS. He leads his team with ten homers, 27 walks and ten stolen bases(in 11 attempts). Ervin was playing center field at the beginning of the year, but he has moved to left field recently. Samford also has a Tuesday road game against Troy.
New Mexico VS Nevada
D.J. Peterson from New Mexico will play three games this weekend on the road against Braden Shipley(see below) and Nevada, starting Friday. Peterson missed some time recently with a hamstring injury, but he picked right back up where he left off when he returned. He did have a rough game Wednesday against New Mexico State, going 0-for-4, with a walk, while his teammates pounded out 13 runs. He is hitting .402, with 12 homers, 42 runs scored, 45 RBI’s and a 1.348 OPS , through 33 games. He has played both third base and first base this year, but profiles better at first base. He bats and throws right, which is not ideal for first base and could hold his draft position down.
Fresno State VS Air Force
Aaron Judge, a 6’7″ outfielder from Fresno State, is rated among the top six college hitters in this draft by most. He will get a chance to give scouts a good look this weekend, as Fresno State plays five games over three days at home against Air Force, starting Friday. Judge had a game Wednesday against CSU Bakersfield and went 0-for-4, with two strikeouts. He is hitting a team-leading .336 in 28 games, with five homers, nine doubles and a .968 OPS. His strikeout total, 34 in 125 AB’s, is a little alarming for a polished college hitter and some scouts question whether he has the bat speed to cover his large strike zone, especially against pitchers that can work inside on him. Fresno State also plays on the road against CSU Bakersfield on Tuesday.
Oklahoma VS New Orleans
Jonathan Gray turned some heads a month ago when he hit 100 MPH during his start against UCLA. He threw seven shutout innings and sat high 90’s all night. Conor Glassey has a writeup on Gray and a few other prospects, where he mentions that Gray’s slider has a chance to be just as good as his fastball. In his next start, he pitched a complete game shutout, throwing 111 pitches, the last of which was clocked at 100 MPH. Then the next week, Gray reached 100 MPH for a third straight start, hitting 97 MPH still in the ninth inning when his pitch count reached 120 pitches. In his starts since, Gray has been in the 98-99 MPH top range. On the year, he is 6-1, 1.19 in 68.1 innings(nine starts), with 81 strikeouts and a .164 BAA. Oklahoma plays three games at home against New Orleans starting Friday.
LSU VS Alabama
Ryan Eades, a 6’3″ RHP, leads #3 ranked LSU against Alabama on the road this weekend, playing a three game series that starts on Friday. He will likely go on Saturday Eades got the win over Kansas two weeks ago, with one run allowed over 8.2 innings. He gave up just four hits and one walk, while striking out six hitters. This past weekend, he faced off against Ryne Stanek and was not up to the task. He allowed five runs on eight hits and three walks in four innings. Eades has recently moved up into the mid-first round range for a few people, thanks to his strong overall performance this season, but that last start may have hurt his chances to go in the top 15 picks. Keith Law recently ranked him #15 overall among all draft-eligible players, while BA just ranked him #31 overall in their latest rankings.
Jacksonville VS Northern Kentucky
Chris Anderson has been rated as high as tenth in this draft class in mock drafts, though that has likely changed recently. Baseball America didn’t even have him in their pre-season top 100 draft-eligible college players list, so he really shot up the draft charts. At 6’4″ 225 lbs., he has the build of a workhorse pitcher, and until his last few starts, he had really strong stats. Part of the problem with ranking him, has been his quality of opposition. He has beat up on some very low rated teams, while also getting hit hard against some of those same low rated teams. His opponent this week is far from a baseball powerhouse, so he needs to dominate to remain a possible Pirates draft pick. He is now 5-3, 2.95 in nine starts, with 78 strikeouts and nine walks in 64 innings and a .229 BAA. Jacksonville starts a three game series on the road against Northern Kentucky on Friday night.
Nevada VS New Mexico
Braden Shipley has also got some top ten mentions recently, and for good reason. The 6’3″ righty is 5-1, 2.60 in nine starts, with 65 strikeouts in 65.2 innings. Last week against UNLV, Shipley wasn’t sharp in his seven innings, allowing four runs on six hits and five walks, with eight strikeouts. Two weeks ago, he went eight innings against San Diego State, allowing two runs on three hits and three walks, with five strikeouts. Last year in 15 starts, he posted a 9-4, 2.20 record. Shipley has been clocked this season at 99 MPH and his change-up is an above average pitch. Nevada will be at home against DJ Peterson and New Mexico, playing a three game series that starts on Friday.
Vanderbilt VS Georgia
Kevin Ziomek is a late addition to the watch list, recently getting mention in the mid-first round. He has been making some strong impressions recently with scouts. Two weeks ago, he faced off against Bobby Wahl and pitched great, allowing one run in 7.1 innings. He gave up just three hits, although his 4/3 BB/K ratio left something to be desired. Ziomek was not sharp this past weekend, allowing four runs on six hits and three walks in six innings against Missouri. He throws low-90′s with a nice slider and change-up. At the beginning of the year he was thought of as a late 1st/ early 2nd round pick, but he has moved up from that. Ziomek is 7-1, 2.19 in nine starts, with 71 strikeouts and a .165 BAA in 65.2 innings. Vanderbilt plays on the road against Georgia this weekend, starting Friday. They also have Walker Buehler, who was drafted by the Pirates last year, on their pitching staff. He is 2-1, 2.84 in five starts and three relief appearances.
A player to watch, who might be added to our list above, is Hunter Renfroe, an outfielder from Mississippi State. You can read a recent interview with him here. He was named SEC Player of the Week this past week. Renfroe is batting .429 in 34 games, with 13 homers and a 1.359 OPS.
Conor Glassey from Baseball America, held a draft chat on Wednesday with tons of great info. The full chat can be viewed here.
Crawfish Boxes has a in depth profile on Cal St Fullerton’s Michael Lorenzo, a center fielder, who also pitches out of the bullpen. Lorenzo could be a player to watch for the Pirates second round pick. Check out the profile here.
Baseball America released the draft pick slot amounts for the first ten rounds. The Pirates have three picks valued at over $1,000,000