We have details on two top pitchers in this draft class that suffered injuries this week, including the first overall pick from last year. We also take a look at the Friday night performances from the top college pitchers around the country. 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.
Before we get into the recaps, there was big news out of Florida. Brady Aiken, who was the first overall pick last year, left his first start for IMG Academy on Thursday with an injury. You can read a game report here from Baseball America. Unofficial word was that it was arm tightness and Aiken lasted just 12 pitches(some sources say 13 pitches). You can see video below, which includes 11 pitches and a couple warm-ups, plus slow-motion replays of his delivery.
Virginia versus Florida State provided a match-up of a top pitcher going up against one of the top bats in this draft. Lefty Nathan Kirby from Virginia allowed just one run over 7.1 innings in his last start. He picked up the win on Friday against FSU, but ran into some trouble during his outing. He allowed four runs(two earned) on six hits and four walks, while striking out 11 batters. Kirby threw 105 pitches, 67 for strikes. FSU left fielder D.J. Stewart went 0-for-2, with two walks and a HBP. Against Kirby, he had a walk, strikeout and HBP. You can read more on Stewart in Thursday’s link.
Louisville starter Kyle Funkhouser had a strong outing on Friday against Notre Dame. He threw seven shutout innings, giving up four hits and three walks, while picking up eight strikeouts. In six starts, he has a 2.61 ERA and a .210 BAA.
Phil Bickford led Southern Nevada to a 3-2 victory by going seven innings, allowing two runs on three hits, no walks and nine strikeouts. He now has 82 strikeouts in 42.1 innings this season. There is a video of Bickford’s last start here.
Vanderbilt’s Carson Fulmer had a rough outing, partly due to the defense behind him. He went 5.2 innings, giving up six runs(one earned) on seven hits and three walks. He had eight strikeouts and threw 58 of his 101 pitches for strikes. Vandy shortstop Dansby Swanson hit his third home run of the season, equaling the amount he hit during his first two seasons. He finished the game 1-for-4 with a walk.
An interesting outing from UC Santa Barbara Friday, where starter Dillon Tate showed that he is human. There were some questions about him succeeding in a starting role, because he has been a reliever up until this season. Tate has been the most impressive pitcher early on and there were whispers that he could go in the top two spots in the draft if he continued to impress. This week against Texas-Arlington, he gave up four runs on five hits, three walks and a hit batter in 6.2 innings. He struck out eight batters and threw 111 pitches. Tate allowed four runs in his first five starts combined. Reports from Friday night’s game had him sitting 93-95, touching 96 MPH.
Duke’s Michael Matuella gave up two runs(one earned) over 6.1 innings in a win over Pittsburgh. He allowed five hits, walked two and struck out five batters. He threw 91 pitches after going 63 pitches in his last start. Matuella is working his way back up to a normal pitch count after missing a start in week two with a strained forearm. Reports from the game had him sitting 93-95, touching 97 MPH, which was up a few ticks from his last outing.
UCLA’s James Kaprielian took on Utah on Friday and went 6.2 innings, allowing one unearned run on five hits, three walks and a hit batter. He struck out seven and threw 58 of his 95 pitches for strikes. Kaprielian lowered his ERA to 2.13 through 38 innings.
Links and Notes
**Some bad news out of the prep ranks. Pitcher Kolby Allard will miss six weeks with a stress fracture in his lower back. Allard was ranked as the top lefty prep pitcher in this draft by numerous sources during pre-season rankings. His bad break could be good for the Pirates, who would have likely not have a chance to draft him. Allard will have limited time before the draft to prove that he is healthy, so his stock could drop.
**Sports Illustrated has an article on prep outfielder Demi Orimoloye, who they note could be the first person born in Africa to make the majors. Gift Ngoepe might have something to say about that, especially since we are talking about a high school player, but it is still an interesting story. Orimoloye is draft-eligible because he grew up in Canada. The Pirates will send a team to St Petersburg on Saturday to take on Orimoloye and his Junior National team.
**One other link of note, though not really Pirates related. Nathan Rode from Prep Baseball Report has a first-hand look at prep shortstop Brendan Rodgers, who will likely go in the top five this year and could go first overall. For that reason, we haven’t really mentioned him as it is highly unlikely he drops to #19 between now and early June. The more interesting player that Rode talks about in the link is prep RHP Brady Singer, who is 6’5″ and sits low-90’s.
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.
It looks like Houston was right when they had concerns over his arm.