The eighth weekend of college baseball started up yesterday, marking the halfway point of the college baseball season. These players listed below, and many others, have exactly two months more to impress scouts in advance of the draft. The schedule for the top college players this weekend can be found here. Check out the draft preview posted here and the recap of the seventh week’s action here. Just a reminder, the Pirates pick #9 and #14 in this year’s June amateur draft, so for the duration of the college season, leading up to draft day, we are following the players closely that are ranked in that range. This year’s draft will be held June 6-8.
San Diego’s Kris Bryant went 1-for-5 tonight, hitting a two-run triple in his last AB. The hit put his team up 4-2 in the ninth and they held on for the win. Bryant struck out twice in this game, a rare occurrence for him this season, but not recently. He also struck out twice yesterday. Bryant was the DH tonight.
Colin Moran went 1-for-3 in North Carolina’s 5-3 win over Maryland tonight. He walked in the first inning and singled in the third. He flew out to left field with two men on to end the fourth inning and he grounded out in the sixth. Moran has been strong in the field recently, committing just one error in his last twenty games. His defense has been questioned, with some saying he is average, while others think he may have to move from third base in the pros.
Mark Appel got the win last night for Stanford despite the fact he admitted he didn’t have his best stuff after the game. Appel came within one out of a complete game, but a hit, wild pitch and walk put the tying run on base and led to his exit. He talked to Aaron Fitt from Baseball America after the game about his performance, which can be read here.
Austin Wilson from Stanford played yesterday for the first time since the team’s opener in February. He batted twice, walked once and struck out. He didn’t play today. He was listed as available to pinch-hit, but Stanford ran away with a 10-3 win, so he wasn’t needed.
Aaron Judge from Fresno State, had a rough Friday night, going 0-for-4, with three strikeouts against UNLV. Part of the downside with Judge has been his high strikeout totals. At 6’7″, he has a huge strike zone to cover, and while his power potential seems to be off the charts, he still has just ten homers(four this year) in his three seasons at Fresno State.
Sean Manaea, the top-ranked left-hander from Indiana State, has a strained hip and was unable to make his start on Friday night. The injury is minor and he could still start Sunday.
Jonathon Crawford threw a shutout last weekend and there was hope that he could turn his season around, after a very poor showing through six games. Unfortunately for Crawford, he reverted right back to his early season struggles. He was moved back to the Friday night starting spot this week, after making three straight Saturday starts. Last night against Mississippi State, Crawford went five innings, allowing five runs(two earned) on six hits and five walks, with four strikeouts. He needed 108 pitches to get through five, 62 went for strikes. His record now stands at 1-5, 4.37 in eight starts, with 38 strikeouts in 47.1 innings.
Chris Anderson, the big RHP from Jacksonville, went 6.2 innings in a win over Stetson on Friday night. He gave up four runs, but just one was earned. Anderson allowed six hits, one walk and struck out five batters. On the year, he is 5-2, 2.11 in eight starts, with nine walks and 75 strikeouts in 59.2 innings.
Trevor Williams from Arizona State was roughed up last night against Oregon. In 7.1 innings, he allowed five runs on ten hits and a walk. He did have an impressive 15 outs via ground balls. Williams has walked just nine batters in 57 innings this year, while posting a 2.84 ERA.
High School Notes
Jonathan Denney, the catcher from Yukon Oklahoma has been getting a lot of mention as a pick in the Pirates range. He hit his seventh homer of the season on Wednesday. Here is a link to his profile from Minor League Ball.
Reese McGuire, another possible catcher the Pirates could grab, is hitting .556 through ten games this year for Kentwood HS in Washington. McGuire has nine extra base hits in 27 AB’s and has scored 12 runs.
Oscar Mercado, a shortstop from Florida, went 1-for-1 in his last game, with two walks and two runs scored. He has struggled with the bat this season, likely dropping him out of the Pirates range. The intrigue with him is the fact scouts believe he can stick at shortstop in the pros. Through 17 games, he is hitting .283 with an .872 OPS.
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.
I think before we move on Denney or McGuire as C, we will be closely watching the pace of development of Wyatt Mathisen. He is every bit as good as either of them. Also, from a shortage of middle infielders, the breakout of Hansen, and the work of Dilson Herrera and Max Moroff lead me to believe we do not need that either. I favor pitching and we need to get as many LHSP’s as we can. I hope Manaea falls to #9 , and HS kids like Trey Ball, Ian Clarkin, and Matt Krook are excellent. Krook was out of the Top 100 of HS players and is now in the Top 25 of the draft. Another kid I would like to see the Pirates look at is a kid from here in East Tennessee. Wil Crowe is 6’3″ 220 RHSP and throws in the mid-90’s. He has already thrown a perfect game against one of the historical powers around this area, and the kid is very strong. I think he will climb quickly – just like Krook, and this could be a HS kid who would be a fast-track to the majors..
Hmmm, I get what you’re saying in that the system lacks possible impact lefties, but thats a slippery slope. Even so, I think its wrong to target the “needs” of your system. For instance, Manea could be gone by the time they pick at #9 , but say Kris Bryant is there. Should they pass on Bryant to take Clarkin or another lefty?
As for the prep lefties…really like Clarkin’s curveball. Haven’t seen much from Ball yet (I think he’s in the MW and the usual late spring has delayed their season). Will have to check out Crowe and Krook, as I haven’t seen much of them.
In addition, if they believe in a big-bat prep C (McGuire, Denney, etc.) they can always give one of them or Mathisen the Wil Myers treatment and move him off of C to accelerate the player’s movement. Frankly, i think a lot of prep kids get put at C because they’re athletic and have good arms. At a young age, those kids can be moved off that position (as we saw with Mathison, he didn’t catch that much in HS). So if they really believed in McGuire or Denney as a bat, I’d be perfectly fine with them getting drafted.
NN: If the 9th pick was up and I had a choice between Bryant, McGuire, and Moran, I would prefer McGuire because he can Catch, play multiple infield positions, hits lefty, has been a leader on the USA U18 team, and is one of the youngest HS players in the top of the draft. At #14 if I did not get a LHSP at #9 , I would make sure I landed a HS pitcher. A lot has to do with getting to know these kids and learning which of them wants to sign, and which are kids looking for Scott Boras to be their agent. The Pirates have $8 mil to spend, which is more than enough unless we get tied up with a bad pick.
Emjay: Would you take Manea over those three (Bryant, McGuire, Moran) if he were there? I’d have to say, at this point…I doubt all four of those guys would be available there, but it is another two months till draft time, so its possible.
If it was just those three, I’d probably go with Bryant, especially over Moran. Bryant has very good power, and also the ability to play a corner OF spot if he can’t stay at third. I don’t know enough about McGuire yet, although most seem to think he and Denney are easily the top two prep catchers.
emjayinTN, I just want to say that I’m glad there is at least one more person on here that is really into the upcoming draft. Personally it is my favorite part of the season. However, I don’t know if you fully understand how the Pirates draft selection works: they always go for the best player available. They will not draft based on need.
No reason you cannot do both best available and need. At the present time Baseball Ameriaca has the following rankings for the draft  211; Manaea #6 , Bryant #7 , McGuire #8 , Trey Ball #16 , and Ian Clarkin #17 . This just came out late last week so it is current. As I stated, Krook was not even in the Top 100 HS players and is now at #29 of all players  211; college and HS. All of these changes are based on play, and a bad outing or two or missing more time could put Manaea right around #9 , or a few more good outings by Ball or Clarkin could put them both in the #9 through #14 range.