Today, we take a look at the weekend from some of the top bats in this upcoming draft class. Yesterday, we covered the starts from the top draft-eligible pitchers around the nation. If you missed it from Thursday, there was a game report that included two top college bats and a double play combo to watch in Arizona. The draft begins on June 8th and the Pittsburgh Pirates have the 19th and 32nd overall picks. The Pirates will have the 11th highest draft bonus pool.
In Saturday’s article(link above) we posted a story from Sports Illustrated on prep outfielder Demi Orimoloye from Canada. On Saturday afternoon, Orimoloye and his Junior National team took on a team made up of lower-level players from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Orimoloye went 1-for-4 in the game, collecting a single off Junior Lopez. He also had an RBI ground out(off Nestor Oronel) and stole a base. He faced Mitch Keller, the Pirates 8th best prospect, in the first inning and grounded out to shortstop. Orimoloye will be the highest pick out of Canada this year and could be a possibility for the Pirates, if he lasts that long.
I was able to watch Alex Bregman play twice this week against Arkansas and came away impressed with his offense. Bregman had just one hit(a home run) in the two games, but he squared up the ball a few other times, including one plate appearances in which he had four hard hit foul balls before drawing a walk. The bat is definitely as advertised.
There have been questions about him sticking at shortstop in the pros and I could definitely see why. Bregman showed excellent range and a good glove, but he had three throws that didn’t look strong(two of them one-hopped the first baseman) and another throw that was off-line which went for an error. Even if he ends up at second base, you have a solid defender with a strong bat and that should keep him in the first half of the first round on draft day.
As mentioned in the link at the top, Thursday we looked at Arizona’s shortstop Kevin Newman and second baseman Scott Kingery. Both have hit well this year and they both could go in the first round, with Newman being the higher ranked player right now. The two had very different starts to their week against Stanford on Friday. Newman went 2-for-5 with an RBI and two stolen bases, while Kingery went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Kingery had six strikeouts coming into the game. On Saturday, Newman went 1-for-3, with a sacrifice bunt and a run scored. Kingery bounced back from his bad game by going 3-for-4 with a double, two runs and two stolen bases.
In the Thursday link at the top, I gave a game report for Florida shortstop Richie Martin, who hasn’t hit like a first round pick so far this year. He had some good plate appearances in the game I saw, but overall his stats are disappointing. Against Ole Miss on Friday, he had an 0-for-4 night. Things didn’t get much better on Saturday when he went 1-for-5 with a single and two strikeouts.
Martin’s teammate Harrison Bader was by far the most impressive player during the game I saw. I mentioned that the outfielder looked like a strong all-around player, who really hit the ball well, plus he came into the weekend with a 1.551 OPS. Bader had two tough games against Ole Miss, going 0-for-9 with four strikeouts.
Walker Buehler went for Vanderbilt on Saturday and lasted 5.2 innings, giving up three runs on eight hits, two walks and a hit batter against Auburn. Buehler threw 87 pitches, 60 for strikes and he picked up five strikeouts. He had elbow soreness early in the year and has slowly been adding to his pitch count. Last week he threw 80 pitches. Shortstop Dansby Swanson went 1-for-4 with a double, walk and two runs scored. Vanderbilt has a chance for three first round picks, Buehler, Swanson and Friday night starter Carson Fulmer.
Outfielder Ian Happ from Cincinnati started off the season better than any other top college hitter in the draft. His team played four games against Nevada this week, starting their series on Wednesday. Cincinnati lost all four games and Happ went 4-for-12, with two homers, a double and six walks. He is hitting .427/.542/.800 through 21 games.
Tennessee outfielder Christin Stewart had a strong game in his team’s 12-7 loss to Georgia on Saturday. He went 1-for-3 with his sixth homer. He drove in three runs, scored three times and drew two walks. Stewart went 1-for-4 with his fourth double on Friday. His team also played a mid-week game against Austin Peay and he had two singles in three trips to the plate.
For the first few weeks of the college season, we were covering Pacific outfielder Gio Brusa. He started the season in a slump and was lower rated than most guys on our list, so I stopped listing him weekly. Brusa hit his fourth homer of the season on Saturday, but he is still batting .239 and striking out a lot, with 23 K’s in 67 at-bats. Despite that, Brusa has a .930 OPS, so he has still been a productive hitter.
Florida State left fielder D.J. Stewart was covered in the Thursday article linked above. We also talked about him yesterday when he faced one of the top pitchers in the country, Virginia’s Nathan Kirby. On Saturday, FSU won 12-10 over Virginia and Stewart hit his seventh homer of the season. He went 2-for-3, walked twice and drove in three runs.
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.
John – how did Mitch Keller look in his outing?
Keller was not good in his two innings, although his first inning ended on nine pitches and he struck out one. He gave up two runs on six hits, with five of those hits coming in a 21-pitch second inning, which included a hard hit out and Edgar Figueroa throwing out a runner at home plate