Draft Prospect Watch: Turner and Rodon Make Debuts

The first weekend of the college baseball season wrapped up on Sunday with the best pitcher in the country struggling a bit in his debut. Throughout the season, leading up to the 2014 amateur draft on June 5th, we will cover the players that fall into the Pittsburgh Pirates range when they make their first round selection with the 25th overall pick. You can find our four-part preview of the draft here2014-Draft

Yesterday, we recapped the first two days for many of the best hitters, including a big game from Cal State Fullerton’s J.D. Davis. Today, we wrap up the weekend with some of the more interesting players and take a look at how some former Pirates draft picks did.

On Sunday, J.D. Davis went 0-for-3 with two walks at the plate. He was 5-for-10 with two triples, a double and a homer in his first two games. Davis also pitched the ninth inning, allowing one inherited run to score, although that let him pick up the win when Cal State Fullerton scored a run in the bottom of the ninth. Davis gave up one hit, which made the score 4-4 at the time. Third baseman Matt Chapman went 2-for-3 with two walks and a run scored on Sunday. He went 1-for-5 in each of his first two games. Both teammates look like they will go in the first round this year.

Max Pentecost from Kennesaw State went 3-for-4 with a double, two runs, two walks and two RBIs on Sunday. He had five hits during a doubleheader on Saturday.

Bradley Zimmer from San Francisco went 3-for-5 with a double and two runs scored on Sunday. He was 3-for-7 with two walks in his first two games.

UC Irvine’s Taylor Sparks went 0-for-3 with a walk on Sunday, leaving him hitless during his first weekend. He went 0-for-8 with two RBIs in his first two games.

Third baseman Alex Blandino from Stanford went 1-for-4 with a run scored against Rice on Sunday. He was 2-for-4 with a walk, hit-by-pitch and sacrifice fly in his first two games.

South Carolina’s Joey Pankake went 4-for-10 over the weekend with eight runs scored. He reached base three times on walks and was hit-by-pitch twice. Pankake homered and stole a base. He plays some shortstop, but this weekend he played left field twice and third base once.

Virginia’s Derek Fisher went 2-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and two RBIs on Sunday. He went 3-for-7 with a walk, triple and three runs scored in his first two games. Fisher is projected to go mid-first round as of now.

Carlos Rodon had his debut pushed back twice due to weather. He is the likely first overall pick this year, though he didn’t look good in his season debut for North Carolina State. He went six innings, giving up three runs(two earned) on four hits, one walk and three hit batters. He struck out six against Canisius. His teammate, shortstop Trea Turner, might be the first position player taken in the draft. he went 3-for-4 with three singles and a stolen base on Sunday. Baseball America has a report and video from the game.

Aaron Brown from Pepperdine was taken by the Pirates in the 17th round in 2011.  He is an impressive two-way player, who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs while playing center field on Saturday, then started on Sunday. Brown pitched seven innings, giving up one run on five hits and two walks, while striking out seven batters. He went 2-for-4 at the plate with an RBI.

Jo-El Bennett from Troy University was an 11th round draft pick of the Pirates in 2011. He has been disappointing so far in college, but he had a huge game on Sunday. After sitting on the bench during the first three games of the season, Bennett got the start and hit three home runs. As a sophomore last year, he hit .190 in 22 games, with just one home run.

Former Pirates Draft Picks Get High Rankings

Baseball America listed their top 50 by college class. Among players mentioned, were eight Pirates draft picks that didn’t sign. Trea Turner was mentioned above, he was the 20th round pick in 2011. The rest are listed below.

Four of the top 50 seniors were drafted by the Pirates, three last year. Christian Ibarra was taken in the 32nd round last year. The LSU third baseman went 2-for-7 with a double in his first two games. He did not play Sunday.

Rice has two players, both right-handed pitchers. Zech Lemond(50th round, 2011) and Chase McDowell(30th round, 2012). In his season debut, Lemond gave up one run on two hits and two walks, while striking out four batters over three innings. McDowell did not pitch the first weekend.

Jake Stinnett from Maryland decided to return for his senior year. The right-hander started Saturday night against Florida and allowed three runs on three hits and a walk in five innings. He struck out seven batters.

Miami’s Dale Carey was selected in the 21st round in 2010. He really struggled last year, went undrafted as a junior, but was still named the eighth best senior. He started off good the first weekend, going 5-for-11 with an RBI and two runs scored. He drew three walks and had three stolen bases.

Freshman pitcher Bryan Baker didn’t sign out of high school last year. The 40th round pick instead went to North Florida. He made his college debut Sunday in relief, giving up two runs on three hits while picking up just two outs against South Florida. Baker stands 6’6″ and he was hitting 94 MPH during Fall ball a few months ago.

Walker Buehler from Vanderbilt is the only sophomore listed, ranking 14th overall on BA’s list. He went three innings in his debut, giving up one run on four hits and one walk, while striking out one batter.

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.

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