Draft Prospect Watch: Hoffman vs Lemond Highlights Friday Night

It’s the eighth weekend of the college baseball season and like every Friday night, we will focus on the best Friday night starters that are draft eligible this year. The 2014 draft begins on June 5th, just nine weeks away. The Pittsburgh Pirates have the 24th pick in the first round this year. They also picked 65th overall in the second round and 74th, which is their competitive balance pick. For more information on the top players in this draft class, check out our four-part draft preview.

Luke Weaver started out strong against Notre Dame - Image Credit: Florida State University
Luke Weaver started out strong against Notre Dame – Image Credit: Florida State University

Some of the best starters in the nation won’t get their start until later in the week. North Carolina State’s Carlos Rodon will make his weekly start on Saturday against Clemson. Hartford’s Sean Newcomb will pitch Sunday on the road against Maine. Miami’s Andrew Suarez will start Saturday against Virginia Tech.

The best match-up this weekend was the Friday night start between Jeff Hoffman from East Carolina and Zech Lemond from Rice. Hoffman will likely go in the first half of the first round and he was rated as high as second overall early in the year, but he hasn’t lived up to the early hype. Lemond was a 50th round selection of the Pirates in 2011 and he could sneak into the first round this year.

Lemond had a strong outing, but Hoffman stepped up and had the better game. Lemond went 6.2 innings, allowing one run on four hits, two walks and a hit batter. He struck out four and was hitting 95 MPH with his fastball. Hoffman allowed one run over eight innings of work. He gave up seven hits and one walk, with seven strikeouts. He had a 3.80 ERA coming into the game.

Vanderbilt’s Tyler Beede took on Tennessee on Friday in a road start and he overcame a rough start to go eight innings. Beede allowed three runs in the first and then just one over the next seven innings. He gave up four earned runs on five hits, two walks and a hit batter. Beede had six strikeouts and threw a total of 120 pitches on the night, 76 for strikes.

Luke Weaver and Florida State, took on Notre Dame at home and Weaver looked good early, but his night did not end well. Notre Dame ended up scoring five runs in the eighth inning, after he allowed just two runs over the first seven innings. Weaver ended up with 7.2 innings, allowing four earned runs on eight hits, a walk and a hit batter. He had eight strikeouts.

Kyle Freeland from Evansville, went on the road to face Charlotte on Friday afternoon. He pitched a complete game and had 15 strikeouts in a 3-2 win. Freeland walked one and gave up four hits. Both runs he allowed came in the eighth inning. In 49 innings this year, he has given up four walks and he’s struck out 60 struck batters.

LSU’s Aaron Nola had a good test on Friday night against #9 ranked Mississippi State and he performed like an ace. He went eight shutout innings, allowing two hits and two walks, while picking up ten strikeouts. Nola threw 116 pitches, 81 for strikes. In 57 innings this year, he has 71 strikeouts and has given up just three runs all year.

UNLV’s Erick Fedde went up against Fresno State and Jordan Brink, who returned to the rotation after spending two weeks in the bullpen. Both pitchers could be first round picks this year. Brink ended up going six innings, allowing three runs(two earned) on five hits, three walks and a hit batter. He had five strikeouts and needed 108 pitches to get through his night. Fedde had a big night, throwing seven shutout innings. He gave up five hits, one walk and had 11 strikeouts.

Brandon Finnegan and TCU, took on West Virginia on Friday night. He went 5.2 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks, with seven strikeouts. Finnegan threw 100 pitches, 62 for strikes. He had a 1.42 ERA coming into the game, with 12 walks and 73 strikeouts in 50.2 innings.

Matt Imhof from Cal Poly, went up against UC Santa Barbara this week and got hit hard. He allowed seven runs(six earned) on five hits, two homers and three walks. Imhof had four strikeouts in his 3.1 innings of work. He matched his runs allowed totals over his first 51.2 innings, coming into the day with seven runs allowed, six being earned runs.

Links of Interest

A few links of interest from the last couple days. Clint Longenecker from Baseball America posted an article worth reading, reporting on the best position players in the National HS Invitational, which was covered here Sunday.

Dan Kirby from Through The Fences, listed his top 20 players in this draft class. The focus is on the Cubs pick at #4 in the first round, but Kirby goes into detail about many of the top names and there is obviously the potential for one or more to fall to the end of the first round.

If you missed it from Wednesday, we recapped the early week games around college baseball for some of the best bats and also mentioned a new mock draft that had the Pirates taking Stanford third baseman Alex Blandino.

My MLB Draft posted their third mock draft update yesterday. They have Michael Gettys going to the Pirates. We have covered him here before and you can read more in the National HS Invitational links above. In his Wednesday game, Gettys hit a three-run homer and drove in another run in his team’s 5-1 win.

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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