Draft Prospect Watch: Brandon Finnegan Returns, Luke Weaver Throws Seven Shutout Innings

It’s Friday night, so we concentrate on the top draft-eligible college pitchers in the nation. Yesterday was a busy day for the draft, with Keith Law releasing his updated top 100 list, Baseball America posting their first mock draft and we previewed four possibilities for the Pittsburgh Pirates first round pick. Most of the guys below are expected to be off the board before the Pirates pick, but as we saw with Jeff Hoffman this week, things can change in a hurry. In last Friday’s article, we posted a few important draft articles, which you can check out here.

Luke Weaver threw seven shutout innings on Friday night - Image Credit: Florida State University
Luke Weaver threw seven shutout innings on Friday night – Image Credit: Florida State University

One more link before we get into the nightly recap. Dan Kirby from Through The Fences posted his weekly update of college players on the rise, only this week he went from his normal ten players, up to twenty.

Carlos Rodon from NC State will likely be the first college pitcher off the board, as long as his arm stays on until the draft. Up until an “easy” 107 pitch game last week, he was averaging 127.5 pitches per start in the last month. He kept the pitch count down again on Friday against Wake Forest. Rodon threw 104 pitches over seven innings and gave up just one unearned run on four hits and a walk, with nine strikeouts.

Shortstop Trea Turner has jumped around the first round in recent draft rankings, but he seems to be trending upwards now. The 2011 pick of the Pirates had a big series last weekend and that has helped his stock. He had a quiet night on Friday while the rest of his team was busy putting up nine runs. Turner went 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts.

Aaron Nola and LSU tried to take on top-20 ranked Alabama on Friday, but rain wiped out their night. The two teams will play a day/night doubleheader tomorrow.

Evansville’s Kyle Freeland was ranked 24th overall by Keith Law in the link above. That puts him right there in line with the Pirates. Just like Aaron Nola, Freeland will have to wait until Saturday for his start. He was supposed to face Illinois State on Friday, but rain postponed the game until Saturday.

Perhaps the biggest start this week is the one from Brandon Finnegan from TCU. He left his last start early with shoulder soreness, then missed his start last week. Finnegan had something to prove to the scouts in attendance. If he looked healthy on Friday night, then he could still be a top ten pick, but if his Friday night outing against Oklahoma didn’t go well, questions about his health may have dropped him down the first round.

He was on a limited pitch count(70-80) according to his coach and Finnegan ended up leaving after four innings with 81 pitches. He gave up two runs on seven hits, two walks and four strikeouts. Finnegan wasn’t sharp, so it will be interesting to see what happens with his stock.

UNLV’s Erick Fedde was rested last week due to a heavy workload this season, though his coach did assure everyone that he was physically healthy. Keith Law tweeted that Fedde won’t start this week due to a tender elbow, although another source said he was just pushed back to Saturday, so we will check tomorrow for more updates.

Luke Weaver and Florida State, took on North Carolina on Friday. Weaver was the college pitcher featured in our preview listed at the top. He threw seven shutout innings, giving up five hits and striking out six batters. Weaver threw a total of 106 pitches and left with a 5-0 lead.

Cal Poly against UC Irvine provided an interesting match-up of two players trying to sneak into the back-end of the first round. Cal Poly pitcher Matt Imhof, went up against third baseman Taylor Sparks. The two met up four times in the game and Sparks struck out all four times. Imhof finished with three runs(two earned) over eight innings, with three hits, four walks and he had 13 strikeouts.

Tyler Beede from Vanderbilt, got his start on Thursday against Florida this week. He went six innings, giving up one run on three hits. He struck out six, but also walked six, leading to 118 pitches thrown in his six frames. It wasn’t the best outing for Beede, who has been mentioned as a top ten pick often. On the other side of the field, Florida’s Zack Powers was drafted by the Pirates in the 28th round in 2010. He decided to go to college and after missing all of 2012, he is a junior this year. Powers plays first base and he’s hitting .265/.354/.422 in 83 at-bats. He went 1-for-3 with a walk on Thursday.

One last player to mention. Hartford’s Sean Newcomb will face Lowell on Saturday during a doubleheader. He has gone to the Pirates in numerous rankings and mock drafts during the year, but recently he has been mentioned higher, so it will be an interesting start to watch.

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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