A few notes before the weekend starts up, along with a preview of a pitcher making a move into the first round. Just a reminder, the Pittsburgh Pirates picked 24th overall in the first round of the 2014 amateur draft, which starts on June 5th. For information on some of the best players in this draft class, check out our four-part draft preview.
Starting with a link from Dan Kirby, who posted his weekly list of college players on the rise. The reason I started with this link is that he mentions Matt Imhof, a big lefty from Cal Poly. I meant to add Imhof to our watch list last weekend because he has been getting a lot of positive press early on this year. In five starts so far, the 6’5″, 220 pound southpaw has posted a 4-1, 1.29 record. Imhof has thrown two shutouts and he has won the Big West Pitcher of the Week award three times already this year.
In his last start, Imhof struck out 14 batters. It was the third time this year that he has struck out 14 batters in a game and that includes his 15 strikeout game on March 7th against Seattle, which set a team Division I record. In 35 innings, he has given up 20 hits, 12 walks, struck out 55 batters and held hitters to a .172 BAA.
Big League Futures has recently posted a brief scouting report and video for Imhof. He hits 94 MPH with his fastball and has a slow curve with a nice big break, plus a change-up with good separation from his fastball. He has the frame to fill out even more, which should make his a pitcher that can throw 200 innings in the future. With his arsenal and control, he should be able to move quickly through the minors.
Cal Poly takes on California this weekend and Imhof will start on Friday. Besides the video in the link above, I’ve also included a second video of Imhof below. He will be added to the weekend watch now and if he continues to pitch well, could be a strong candidate for the Pirates in the first round.
Indiana was one of the few teams in action on Wednesday and their first baseman had a big game. Sam Travis is a possible late first round pick and his game against #9 ranked Louisville yesterday helped his case. He went 4-for-5 with three doubles and he drove in two runs. Catcher Kyle Schwarber, who will likely be selected before his teammate Travis, went 1-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored. Through 18 games, Travis has a .352 average, with six doubles, one triple, nine walks and just six strikeouts. Schwarber is hitting .320 with five doubles, two triples and three homers. He has a .560 slugging percentage and only seven strikeouts in 75 at-bats.
Virginia with their four players worth watching, had a Wednesday game against Towson and a Thursday game versus Princeton. Even without Derek Fisher, their top draft prospect, they still have plenty of talent. Against Towson, Mike Papi went 2-for-3 with a double, RBI and a walk, while Nick Howard went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Howard also picked up a save with a scoreless ninth. On Thursday, Howard went 3-for-3 with two doubles and four RBIs, as Virginia won big over Princeton. Papi went 2-for-3 with three runs, three RBIs and a walk. Second baseman Branden Cogswell went 2-for-2 with two walks, three stolen bases and four runs scored. With a lopsided score early, all three players were out of the game by the sixth inning. Brandon Downes, who should be picked in the top five rounds, did not play either game. No reason was given, although he is hitting .224 on the season, so if it’s just a break and not an injury, that may be a good thing.
From late Tuesday night, San Francisco outfielder Bradley Zimmer went 1-for-5 with a run scored. He had a Thursday afternoon game against BYU and went 2-for-4 with a double, triple and three RBIs. Zimmer has moved well up the charts for some people and could be the second college bat selected overall.
News and Notes
If you missed it from earlier in the week, we covered Tuesday night in college ball and posted a ton of interesting links and notes about the top draft-eligible talent.
Michael Gettys from Gainesville HS went 2-for-4 with two homers and five RBIs on Wednesday in a 10-5 win over Apalachee. We did a feature with a report and video on Gettys here. In eight games this year, he is hitting .500 with two doubles, three homers, 11 runs scored and a 1.510 OPS.
Clint Longenecker from Baseball America posted an article about three high school pitchers worth watching. Brady Aiken has been covered here a few times, but Spencer Adams and Forrest Griffin have not. Griffin has been getting a lot of good press recently and is moving up draft charts. That makes him another in a long line of quality HS pitchers in this year’s draft class.
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.