Today we take a look at how the top college players are performing this year, going over many of the names we have mentioned already this season. 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. If you missed our last article, we covered a new top 50 list from Keith Law and an updated list of the top prep players.

To get in as many names as possible, I’m going to keep it short on each player. If you’ve been following the draft coverage here, all these names should be familiar to you. I’m going to start with the players we covered in the draft preview, followed by players mentioned in the Pirates’ range for their 22nd overall pick since then. All stats are through Saturday’s games.

Nick Senzel, Tennessee – We haven’t mentioned him recently because he started off strong and moved up the charts. He’s hitting .354/.473/.600 in 36 games. He’s on a team that scores a lot of runs, as evident by his 45 runs scored and 46 RBIs, while hitting just five homers. Senzel is 13-for-14 in steals.

Ryan Boldt, Nebraska – He’s a tweener for the Pirates. Might not be good enough for the first pick, but also might not be around when they make the 41st overall selection. Some team might bet on him finally living up to the potential and take him early. He’s hitting .329/.375/.497, with 16 steals in 35 games.

Jake Fraley, LSU -Didn’t make Keith Law’s recent top 50, which still makes him possible for the #41 pick. He’s an athletic outfielder with plus speed. Fraley is hitting .329/.417/.436, with 18 steals in 35 games.

Errol Robinson, Ole Miss – Early struggles at the plate dropped him down rankings. He has a strong glove at shortstop and above average speed, so there are tools to his game. He is hitting .242/.318/.311 in 34 games and he’s just 3-for-9 in steals, which doesn’t match the speed.

Kyle Funkhouser, Louisville – Early season command issues and a dip in velocity had him dropping quickly early on and he hasn’t recovered. He has a 5.56 ERA in 45.1 innings, with 31 walks and 47 strikeouts.

Matt Krook, Oregon – He jumped up the charts early, then fell off. He has a 3.79 ERA in 40.1 innings, with 52 strikeouts and a .178 BAA. His command has been poor with 33 walks, seven wild pitches and eight hit batters.

Dakota Hudson, Ole Miss – He was a fast riser early on, probably will be gone before Pirates pick. Law just ranked him 17th. He has a 2.08 ERA in 60.2 innings, with 67 strikeouts and a .223 BAA. Has had some issues with control, with 21 walks, seven wild pitches and five hit batters.

Bryan Reynolds, Vanderbilt – Has been mentioned near the Pirates a few times recently. He is hitting .328/.457/..625 in 35 games. Strikeouts have been an issue.

Jordan Sheffield, Vanderbilt – Some people are very high on him, some see a reliever. Could be a possibility for Pirates, or could be off the board well before they pick. He has a 2.91 ERA in nine starts, with 77 strikeouts and a .215 BAA in 55.2 innings.

Robert Tyler, Georgia – Has been ranked right around 22nd for awhile now. He has a 2.77 ERA in nine starts, with 62 strikeouts and a .161 BAA in 48.2 innings

Will Craig, Wake Forest – One of the best college bats available, though he does have an easier schedule than most players on this list. Defense seems to hold him back, as people feel he’s a first baseman, and will need to rely strictly on his bat for value. He’s hitting .436/.556/.832 in 31 games.

Daulton Jefferies, Cal – He is hurt by his size at 6’0″, 180 pounds and now he’s missed time with a calf injury. In six starts, he has a 1.29 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 42 innings. He has a .208 BAA and has issued just six walks. Will probably go between Pirates’ two picks.

Anthony Kay, UConn – He has a 3.08 ERA in nine starts, with 61 strikeouts and a .211 BAA in 61.1 innings. Kay is a lot like Jefferies, where the size, 6’0″, 187 pounds, might hold him back from a higher pick. He shot up draft charts about a month ago when he showed increased velocity to go along with one of the best change-ups in this draft class.

Matt Thaiss, Virginia – Big bat, some are higher on him than others. Leads his team in all three triple slash categories at .373/.471/.549, with just five strikeouts in 170 at-bats.

Logan Shore, Florida – Having an excellent season, with a 2.50 ERA and an 8:57 BB/SO ratio in 54 innings. Was ranked near the #22 pick early on, though some people are lower on him now.

Corbin Burnes, St Mary’s College – He was only mentioned for the first time here on Friday because Law has him ranked 41st on his list, matching the second pick of the Pirates. In nine starts, he has a 1.50 ERA, with a .197 BAA and 64 strikeouts in 60 innings. More info on him including a video in the link from Friday.

Alec Hansen, Oklahoma – Big kid with a big arm and two plus pitches. Control was a concern coming into the season and it has only got worse, sending him to the bullpen. He has 38 strikeouts in 26 innings, but that’s the only good part. A 6.58 ERA and 24 walks highlight the struggles.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Meanwhile, Kent State LHSP Eric Lauer, 6’3″ 205 pitched 6, giving up 2 hits, 0 ER, 7K/1W to bump his record to 6 – 2 with a 0.90 ERA in 60IP, 32 hits, 74K/20W, and a .156 average against. Will turn 21 on June 3. Of his 9 starts this year he has gone 7 innings plus on 4 occasions, and nothing less than 5 innings in any of the starts. Throws 4 pitches incl a FB that sits low 90’s and hits 94. MLB.com thinks he has the highest floor of any LHSP in the 2016 draft. Nice video by them and he is smooth and effortless.

    This was one of your picks John – thank you.

    • Lauer is definitely intriguing because he has good size and polish. It will be interesting to see where he ends up. Right now I think you’d hope to get him with that 2nd pick, but I can see some team with multiple picks early going for a safer pick like him. Might end up with Cardinals, just a guess

      • BTW, Wil Crowe of South Carolina had TJ Surgery in the Spring of 2015, and will not pitch for SC in 2016. He was a 2nd Round possible in 2013 coming out of HS, but told interested teams that he wanted $1.7 mil to sign. Therefore he did not get picked in the 2nd Round, and he said that Houston made him a verbal offer of $1.2 mil if they selected him in the 10th Round. He turned it down and had an 11 – 7 record with a 3.52 ERA in a little over one season with SC before the surgery. The ERA numbers ballooned in the 2015 games just preceding the MRI that showed the UCL tear.

        I think he was low to mid-90’s in HS and in his Freshman year in college. He has a red-shirt and could return to SC for the 2017 season or make himself available for the draft.

  2. On the Will Craig bandwagon for a bit, To chat about strength of schedule, I would like to see his stats in games against the quality teams. This weekend at home against 4th ranked Florida St. He went 4-9 with a Homer and a Double. 4:2 BB/SO. He is batting .442. I know pitching is pitching and hitting is hitting!! This dude has a great bat no matter who is throwing at him!! I will agree with u, he’s maybe not the pick at 22, but if he is there at 41, I feel we need to pull the trigger!! For the philosophy that NH and Clint are preaching, this dude fits the bill perfectly!! So what he is LABELED as a 1st baseman. He has time to get some work at 3rd to diversify himself!!

    • I’m just passing along what everyone says, I try not to form opinions of my own on players unless I’ve seen them play multiple times. Wake Forest doesn’t break their stats up into conference and non-conference like some sites, but I think what people are saying with him is be careful not to ignore games like a mid-week against Richmond when he hit two homers, walked twice and drove in six runs. Not only is Richmond not good, you’re facing their 4/5 starter during the mid-week games.

      • With the college season already short, do you even think there’s statistical validity in trying to break out weekend starters?

        Certainly a fair point to bring up the big difference in quality, but it seems this is what good ole scouting is for. Can a kid identify quality breaking stuff, turn on inside velo, etc. I’d be skeptical drawing conclusions from, what, a few dozen at bats.

        • I think the scouts try to catch players during the weekend games as much as possible. I was shocked to see in the Urban Invitational Tournament in March that 90 MPH was almost a myth in these games. I believe one starter worked in the 90’s and one reliever was sitting 90-91, but I watched three games and there were fastballs in the 79-80 range and these are division I schools.

          So when players are seeing a weaker schedule and beating up on mid-week starters, it’s tough to take too much from them. I think in those games, you’re just looking for stuff like plate patience, power potential, athleticism. At least that’s what I take from them. I usually try to catch SEC or Pac-10 games on the weekend, so you’re seeing the best vs the best.

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