The ninth weekend of college baseball wrapped up day, with two of the better hitters in this draft class squaring off for a third time. These players, and many others, have less than two months to impress scouts in advance of the draft. Check out the draft preview posted here and the recap of the eighth 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. This year’s draft will be held June 6-8.
San Diego’s Kris Bryant, went 0-for-2, with two walks. He batted lead-off for the second game in a row. He has been struggling recently, seeing his average drop nearly 50 points in the last two weeks, while his power has disappeared and his strikeouts have gone way up. Pepperdine’s Aaron Brown went 2-for-5, with two singles, an RBI and a run scored. He pitched the game today, after playing outfield the first two days. He went eight innings, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks, striking out four batters. Brown was a 2011 draft pick of the Pirates.
Colin Moran went 3-for-5 in North Carolina’s 21-8 win over Virginia Tech on Friday night. He drove in four runs, getting RBI’s on a double, single and sacrifice fly. He also drew a walk, getting seven plate appearances in the route. On Saturday, Moran was even better. He went 3-for-4, with two walks, two doubles and a home run. He scored five runs and drove in four, in NC’s 9-8 win in ten innings. Moran finished up his weekend with a 1-for-4 game, drawing one walk and driving in one run. NC won 3-0 to sweep the series.
Austin Wilson finally returned to action last week and has been hitting well in his brief time back. Saturday, he hit his first home run of the season. Wilson played in the field(RF) Friday night for the first time since the season opener, but was back in the DH spot on Saturday. He finished that game 1-for-4. On Sunday, he went 1-for-3, with an RBI single and two walks in Stanford’s 12-2 win over Washington.
DJ Peterson of New Mexico and Aaron Judge of Fresno State squared off for the third time today. Judge had the better stats in the first game, but Peterson walked away with the win. Peterson’s team won again in game two, scoring 14 runs and the New Mexico first baseman also had a slightly better game. Both players went 2-for-4, with two singles and an RBI, but Peterson scored two runs, while Judge never crossed the plate. The Fresno State outfielder was able to swipe two bags, giving him five steals on the year. Sunday’s game was a low-scoring affair, with New Mexico winning 4-3 and sweeping the series. Judge went 1-for-2, with three walks and a run scored. Peterson also went 1-for-2, with a run scored. He hit a double, drew a walk, drove in one run and was hit by a pitch.
Phillip Ervin, the outfielder from Samford, went 1-for-3, with a single and a walk today. His team got swept by Western Carolina in a three game series. Ervin also recorded the last two outs in relief, striking out one. He has occasionally pitched this season. Ervin was playing center field early in the year, but has seen time in left field recently
Catching up on some of the higher rated pitchers from this draft. We start off with Trevor Williams, RHP from Arizona State. I’ve held off on adding him to our regular watch list, but he has been rated highly for most of the season. The results haven’t always been impressive, though. This weekend against USC, he took the loss and was hit pretty hard. He allowed five runs(four earned) on 12 hits, in the eight inning complete game. Williams had no walks, and just one strikeout. On the year, he is 4-3, 3.05 in nine starts, with 47 strikeouts and only nine walks allowed in 65 innings.
For Vanderbilt, Kevin Ziomek won his seventh game of the season, but he too didn’t have his best game. He went six innings, allowing four runs on six hits and three walks, while striking out six batters against Missouri. He threw 115 pitches in the game, 69 went for strikes. On Friday,Vanderbilt’s Walker Buehler threw two shutout innings. The freshman right-hander was a 2012 draft pick of the Pirates. On the year, he is 2-1, 2.84 in 31.2 innings, with 34 strikeouts.
Jason Hursh, the 2010 draft pick of the Pirates, was pitching strong at the beginning of the year for Oklahoma State. He was coming off Tommy John surgery and was getting mention as a late first round pick, but hit recent struggles. Hursh allowed two runs over seven innings, with seven strikeouts in a loss to TCU on Friday night. He threw 108 pitches, 67 for strikes and had a few moments of wildness, walking four batters and throwing three wild pitches. He is 3-3, 2.63 in nine starts, with a .247 BAA and 49 strikeouts in 61.2 innings.
Austin Kubitza from Rice has been terrific this season as their Friday night starter. The 2010 draft pick of Pittsburgh, is 4-2, 1.46 in nine starts, with 77 strikeouts and a .198 BAA in 55 innings. This weekend, he went up against UCF and was off his game. In four innings, he allowed two earned runs on two hits, two HBP, and five walks, with five strikeouts. Zech Lemond, a 2011 draft pick of the Pirates, who is also on the Rice pitching staff, threw four innings on Saturday night in relief. He allowed one run on four hits and four walks, with six strikeouts. Lemond has a 1.64 ERA in 38.1 relief innings, covering 16 appearances.
Lastly, a new HS name to watch. Kiley McDaniel on Twitter, pointed out LHP Jacob Brentz, looked like a probable first round pick. Perfect Game has recently pushed his ranking well up their charts as well. Brentz hasn’t been mentioned in any top mock drafts, but he has impressive stuff from the left side. He tops out at 97 MPH and was sitting 91-95 in his last start, with a good feel to his changeup, according to Steve James from Perfect Game. A scouting report of Brentz can be read here. A brief video of him, with pitch speeds, can be seen here.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.