Today we take a look at a few weekend recaps from college ball. If you missed it from Saturday, I had observations from two of the better pitchers and one of the better hitters in the prep ranks. The Pittsburgh Pirates own the 22nd and 41st picks this year. The draft begins on June 9th and lasts three days, with the first two rounds selected on day one. You can view our draft preview here, which covers many of the names who fall in the Pirates’ range. It also focuses in on players who fit the recent draft strategy of the Pirates.
We start of the weekend recap with Oklahoma right-hander Alec Hansen, who I didn’t think we would be talking about at this point because he was rated so high coming into the season. Hansen stands 6’7″, 235 pounds, and sits high 90’s with his fastball, complementing it with a slider that can be devastating at times. His problem has been command and he hasn’t shown any improvements in that area. This week against Texas Tech, he couldn’t even get out of the first inning, giving up four runs on three hits and three walks, before being pulled with two outs. Hansen has huge upside, but we are also talking about someone who has gone just 20 innings over six starts, walking 18 batters, while posting a 7.65 ERA. The size, stuff and 28 strikeouts are all intriguing, but teams might soon consider him too much of a risk to draft high.
Next up is Georgia right-handed pitcher Robert Tyler, who has recently been ranked #22 twice in draft rankings, matching him up to the first pick of the Pirates. He was coming off a game in which he walked seven batters against Kentucky. On Friday night against Mississippi State, the control was still poor, but the results were great. He threw six no-hit shutout innings, walking six and striking out six batters. Tyler has a .153 BAA and 45 strikeouts in 32.1 innings. He has given up 17 walks, though 13 are from his last two starts. You can read a scouting report on him here.
In that same Mississippi State/George series, Dakota Hudson continued to impress, going from someone who seemed like a possibility for the Pirates’ first pick, up to a likely top ten pick at this point. Things can obviously still change with 73 days left until the draft starts, but I wouldn’t count on Hudson being around when the Pirates pick. He allowed one unearned run over seven innings against Georgia. He has a 1.13 ERA, 45 strikeouts and a .196 BAA in 39.2 innings this season.
Stanford pitcher Cal Quantrill is still rated as a mid-to-late first round pick this year, despite being out a year and one week now due to Tommy John surgery. He has been throwing bullpens and hopes to face live hitters soon, with the idea that he could start pitching in games in about a month if all goes well. When healthy, the 6’3″ righty touches 96 MPH with his fastball and in a start right before he was injured, he showed excellent command of a low-80’s slider, with a change-up that looked at least average.
Outfielder Nick Banks from Texas A&M started this season off slow and had an injury that cost him a week. That has dropped him in the rankings recently. In a three-game series against LSU this weekend, he went 0-for-8 with a walk and five strikeouts in the first two games, then went 2-for-3 with his first homer on Saturday. Banks also had a double and a triple during a mid-week game against lesser competition. He is hitting .304/.368/.536 in 18 games.
In that same series against Texas A&M, LSU center fielder Jake Fraley went 2-for-4 on Thursday, collecting a triple and a steal. He went a combined 1-for-8 with a walk in the other two games. Fraley was mentioned in our draft preview(linked up top) as a player who was a possibility for either of the first two Pirates’ picks coming into the season. He’s a high OBP player, with above average speed and defense. He is hitting .355/.450/.516 in 23 games, with 14 steals and a 15:9 BB/SO ratio.
In the Virginia/Louisville match-up from Thursday, Connor Jones from Virginia, faced Kyle Funkhouser from Louisville. Earlier in the year this seemed like an intriguing game, but Jones has established himself(for now) as a possibly top ten pick, while Funkhouser has seen his stock plummet. Jones went seven inning, giving up two earned runs on five hits, three walks, and four strikeouts. It wasn’t his best game, but didn’t hurt his stock. Funkhouser went 6.1 innings and allowed five runs on seven hits, four walks, and five strikeouts.
Keith Law had an interesting article about Jones(subscription required), highlighting his lack of a true plus pitch, as well as the poor history of UVA pitchers in the big leagues. I’m not sure if you can make a generalized statement about pitchers from the same college, but he may have a point with the stuff that Jones displays. While he doesn’t have any true plus pitches, he’s solid 50/55 grades across the board with all of his offerings and his command. He’s the type of pitcher who could move quickly through the system and give you a solid mid-rotation starter in the majors. It will be interesting to see if teams stay away from him early on despite being a polished pitcher already.
Vaanderbilt has two players to watch, with outfielder Bryan Reynolds and pitcher Jordan Sheffield. On Friday, Sheffield had a rough night, but Reynolds helped bail him out with a two-run homer early and another RBI later. Sheffield allowed six runs on four hits and five walks in six innings. Reynolds went 1-for-5 on Saturday, striking out three times. On Sunday, he drove in a total of five runs on a pair of homers, giving him six home runs this season. Sheffield now has a 2.21 ERA through six starts, with 51 strikeouts and a .204 BAA in 36.2 innings.
In Kentucky on Friday, Florida’s Logan Shore took on Kentucky’s Zack Brown in a match-up that involved a likely first round pick(Shore) versus a likely second round pick. Shore won this battle easily, though he had some issues. In five innings, he allowed four runs on four hits and two walks, with six strikeouts. Brown had a tough game, giving up five runs on four hits and six walks in 3.2 innings. He had three strikeouts and needed 81 pitches to get through his abbreviated outing.
I’ve included videos below of both pitchers, courtesy of Prospect Junkies. First up, Shore
Next up, Brown…
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.
Just for the record I was wrong about Zeuch striking out 12, that was actually Sandedur…link to Zeuch’s strong season debut on the 20th…
If Hanson’s stock falls, I’d be curious if the Pirates would want to take a high-risk high-reward play on him at 22. He’s not the high floor type they’ve been taking early, but the upside might be worth a deviation from that strategy this year, especially since the Pirates seem to be pretty confident in their ability to deal with command issues.
There is definitely a big difference in his floor and ceiling. You can get a reliever with shaky command who never makes it, or a top starter with two plus pitches if you can improve his control
I was at the Arizona/UCLA games over the weekend. Bobby Dalbec walked Arizona off with a bullet to the left field corner on Saturday, and I started wondering about his draft prospects. I think he’s eligible this year.
He plays 3B, big power, whiffs a lot, too, but he also pitches, mostly as the closer, so I was curious if you had any idea if he was being scouted as a hitter or a pitcher or both.
EDIT: I don’t expect the Pirates to be interested in him, since he’s not the sort of hitter the Bucs like to draft; this is more to satisfy my own curiosity.
Dalbec was ranked higher early in the year. D1 Baseball had him third among college third basemen in their preseason poll and he was down to tenth best in their update last week. He was actually ranked too high for our preview article(15th when the Pirates had the 24th pick) and by the time I checked him again, he dropped far in the rankings. Baseball America just had him 62nd. He’s on my list of players to watch, but unless he moves up, I won’t mention him(he was in a link I posted a week or two ago)
I know he started slow, but he’s pretty hot right now, so I can’t imagine he’ll keep dropping for long. The ball jumps off his bat, hit a homer over the batters eye at Hi Corbett, which is a ridiculous shot. But it sounds like he’ll be taken as a 3B then, and not a pitcher, I gather from your response.
That’s up to the scouts following him. I was following Nick Howard a couple years back and most people were calling him a hitter until he started pitching more often as a junior and dominating. Dalbec is hitting .241 this year and already has 26 strikeouts, so there are some early flaws. Everyone is calling him a third baseman now, but if some team likes him more as a pitcher, he could end up going that route
On a somewhat related note, Melancon appears on the novelty cups at Hi Corbett. Just a bit of trivial info.
If Reynolds can play first or third base, he may be a player the Pirates should consider. But, if he keeps his current level of hitting up, he will be long gone by pick #22 . Given their last two drafts were mostly made up of older, college players, I’d like the Pirates to go with a younger draft, focusing on high school positions players, with high upside – with a sprinkling of a few more college arms.
After a very rough stretch for Vandy, the Dores had a big weekend–although a cardiac weekend–in Missouri. I would have loved to have a number of recent ‘Dores in the Pirates system…
Thanks for these reports. Is there any possibility of getting an update on the Pitt baseball team’s draft eligible juniors? They have a 6′ 7″ pitcher who is doing well (listed by BA as a Top 50 Junior) and and a guy named Yarnall who looks like a strong hitter…
T.J. Zeuch was the 42nd ranked college player by D1 Baseball in their preseason poll, but he has dropped off since then, not even making their top 50 relief pitchers in college in the updated poll. No one from Pitt made BA’s updated top 100 list either. In fact, not one Pitt player made the top 50 for any individual position in the latest update on D1 Baseball.
Here are Pitt’s stats though http://www.pittsburghpanthers.com/sports/m-basebl/stats/2015-2016/teamcume1.html
Thanks John. I saw Zeuch listed in the top 50 Juiniors in the latest print of edition of BA but lower down on the list. I went to look at the list because Yarnall caught my attention with really good stats, high avg., some power, and really good plate discipline. Saw him against BC and wasn’t impressed with his body-not a Munoz but didn’t look particlarly athletic, but it seems like he can hit. Zeuch had a dominant outing recently with 12 k’s…great size-both obviously not guys that the Pirates would look at with those early picks but I wonder if either one or both are on the Pirate’s radar…
They have specifically told us that they don’t target local kids, which is something a team like the Braves has been known to do. I can see the reasoning from both sides, you don’t want to hype a kid because he’s local and take him too soon, but you also hate to lose someone in your own backyard. That doesn’t mean the Pirates won’t show interest, because they have taken some local players recently, they just make it a point not to overvalue them. They also don’t mind looking at local kids in the Bradenton area. They ended up with Garrett Russini catching Seth McGarry in GCL game last year. Both of them could have walked home after the game was over.