Today we have some starts from a few of the best college pitchers, plus two high school pitchers of note. Yesterday we looked at some of the top college starting pitchers and had notes on a few of the best draft-eligible prep players. 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.
The main event on Saturday was the match-up in Virginia that saw two top teams sending out their top pitchers. Kyle Funkhouser and Louisville visited Nathan Kirby and Virginia. Both pitchers will likely go in the top 20 picks and they both pitched like it for the first six innings. Funkhouser picked up the win in the 8-1 game, going 7.2 innings. He allowed one run on five hits and four walks, while striking out five batters. Kirby matched him through six, then things fell apart. He allowed five earned runs in the seventh inning and finished with six runs over 6.1 innings. He struck out seven batters.
Funkhouser has a 2.22 ERA in eight starts, with 54 strikeouts in 52.2 innings. He is holding batters to a .202 BAA and he has not allowed a home run. Kirby has a 1.94 ERA in 51 innings, with a 23:69 BB/SO ratio and a .232 BAA.
Vanderbilt’s Walker Buehler(pictured above) had some issues in his team’s 11-7 win. He gave up four runs on nine hits and two walks in six innings. He threw two wild pitches and struck out two batters. Buehler recorded ten outs on ground balls. In 29.1 innings, he has 28 strikeouts and a .265 BAA. Shortstop Dansby Swanson went 1-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored. He is hitting .381 and has scored 46 runs in 32 games.
Kentucky had Kyle Cody pitch in relief on Saturday and his outing didn’t go well. He has been struggling this year and it continued as a reliever. He gave up three earned runs in two innings, allowing three hits, one walk and one hit batter. He now has a 5.87 ERA in 38.1 innings. Cody is still an intriguing arm due to his size and velocity, but he has likely pitched his way out of first round consideration.
Cal Poly Pomona’s Cody Ponce faced UC San Diego on Saturday. He went five innings, allowing one run(unearned) on four hits and a walk, with five strikeouts. He threw 81 pitches. Ponce missed three weeks due to shoulder fatigue and he is slowly returning to his normal pitch count. Last weekend we included a video of his first start back.
**Jacob Nix from IMG Academy went five innings on Saturday, allowing one run on five hits and a walk. He struck out four batters. Nathan Rode was at the game at had Nix sitting low-90’s early, finishing up his outing 89-91 MPH. Nix was drafted in the fifth round last year by the Astros and agreed to an over-slot deal, but when Brady Aiken didn’t sign his deal, the Astros didn’t have cap room for Nix. Aiken also attends IMG, but was shut down after 13 pitches and he required Tommy John surgery.
**An intriguing name for Pirates fans to follow is 6’5″ righty Mike Nikorak, who is out of Stroudsburg, Pa. and can hit 97 MPH. He made his season debut on the mound on Thursday in front of 30+ scouts. Nikorak was on a strict pitch limit in his first game, so those scouts saw just two scoreless innings. He was sitting 92-95 MPH according to The Morning Call. Nikorak walked two, struck out one and allowed one hit. He went 5-for-5 at the plate, slugging two homers, but his future is on the mound.
**The Orlando Sentinel has an article on top prep pitcher Juan Hillman and how former Major League pitcher Tom Gordon is helping him towards his goal of being a big league pitcher. I’ve included a video from Big League Futures of Hillman, who was mentioned among the “others to watch” in our prep pitchers draft preview.