Draft Prospect Watch: Aaron Nola Throws Seven No-Hit Innings

The second Friday night of the college season had a big match-up between potential top draft picks and all the Friday night aces going around the country. You can check out our four-part preview on the draft here. The Pittsburgh Pirates have the 24th overall pick now and the first round of the draft will be held on June 5th.

Luke Weaver threw six no-hit innings in his debut last week - Image Credit: Florida State University
Luke Weaver threw six no-hit innings in his debut last week – Image Credit: Florida State University

Hartford’s Sean Newcomb made his season debut Friday afternoon against Georgetown and threw five shutout innings. He gave up three hits, walked three batters and recorded nine strikeouts. According to reports from the game, he touched 95 MPH and had an excellent slider. Newcomb is one of the top left-handed pitchers in this draft class.

Jeff Hoffman is rated as the second best college pitcher in this draft and many feel he is the second best player overall as well. On Friday, he faced the pre-season top ranked team in the nation, Virginia. Hoffman allowed three runs over 6.2 innings, giving up three hits(two homers) and three walks, while striking out six batters.

Virginia has three of the better bats in this draft, all of them could go in the first three rounds. Left fielder Derek Fisher is the best of the trio. He went 0-for-4, while first baseman Mike Papi went 1-for-4 with an RBI. The third hitter is Nick Howard and he was actually used only as a relief pitcher Friday, throwing a scoreless ninth for the save.

Carlos Rodon is widely considered as the top pick in this draft, but he hasn’t been dominant in either of his first two outings. On Friday, Rodon faced Appalachian State and gave up five runs(three earned) on five hits, two walks and nine strikeouts in eight innings. His North Carolina State teammate, Trea Turner, was a 20th round draft pick of the Pirates in 2011 and he might be the first college bat taken in the draft. He went 1-f0r-4 with a run scored.

Luke Weaver from Florida State threw six no-hit innings in his debut last week. He faced Georgia on Friday and went five innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out two batters.

Kyle Freeland hasn’t been mentioned here yet, but he could fall in the Pirates range as the season plays out. The 6’3″ lefty out of Evansville went five innings in his debut, allowing two runs on five hits, no walks and six strikeouts. This week, he faced Mercer and got hit around, giving up seven runs(four earned) on seven hits and one walk in four innings. He struck out five and hit one batter.

Lefty Brandon Finnegan from TCU took on BYU and dominated. He threw seven shutout innings, surrendering six hits, walked none and had nine strikeouts. Finnegan threw seven shutout innings in his debut and struck out a career-high 13 batters.

Erick Fedde from UNLV was mentioned as the Pirates pick in an early mock draft(before they moved up to the 24th pick). He took on Tennessee on Friday and went six innings, giving up three runs on seven hits, three walks and he had seven strikeouts.

Starter Aaron Nola from LSU faced Virginia Tech and was unhittable. In seven innings, all he allowed was a third inning walk. Nola had eight strikeouts, including a run of striking out six of seven batters faced in the middle innings. Third baseman Christian Ibarra was drafted by the Pirates last year, but he decided to return for his senior season. He had a big game in support of Nola, going 3-for-4 with three singles, one run scored and three RBIs.

Tyler Beede from Vanderbilt had a career game against Illinois-Chicago. He gave up one hit(solo HR) in six innings while striking out a career best 11 batters. Beede walked one and faced just two batters over the minimum.

Nick Burdi from Louisville is the hardest thrower in this draft class, hitting 100 MPH multiple times. He is also a reliever, so he might not be a popular first round pick, even in the 24th spot. Burdi has pitched twice this year, giving up one walk, no hits and he has struck out four batters in two innings. Last year, he had 62 strikeouts in 35.2 innings and allowed just three earned runs.

Other Links

We posted a few mid-week draft watch articles this week. On Tuesday night, we had a preview of pitcher Cobi Johnson, who was ranked 24th overall in Baseball America’s top 30 list of draft picks.

Wednesday, we highlighted the top tools in the draft for both high school and college players. Also, a match-up between two of the top high school players.

On Thursday, we took a look at high school pitcher Grant Holmes, who was hitting 98 MPH during a scrimmage. Also a top 100 list of high school players and ten college players on the rise.

  • Even though he’s from my neck of the woods (fist pump, upstate NY!) I really don’t see the big deal about Hoffman. I know stats certainly aren’t the most important thing when scouting players, but it doesn’t seem like he has as potential front-line stuff as guys like Beede or Newcomb. Of course, he was facing a very good team.
    Nola and Wever…are they both kind of a Mike Leake 2.0? Smaller guy, decent stuff, know-how-to-pitch types?
    Burdi…is there any possibility he starts? Is there anything specific (lack of command, lack of 3rd pitch) that prevents him from doing so? I wonder if he was drafted if he could follow the Andrew Cashner plan and convert to starting.
    Also definitely count me among those following Flaherty.

  • Someone else did mention him, thanks for reminding me. It’s basically going to be college pitchers on Fridays, college bats on Saturdays, weekend wrap and former Pirates picks on Sunday and HS players during the week whenever there is enough for an article. I’ll check him our right now and see what I can find

  • It seems like the pirates have a lot of guys who they drafted who become top picks. Jason Hursh to the Braves and Kent Emmanuel to the Astros last year. Trea Turner this year.

    While it didn’t help the org because they didn’t sign them, i guess it’s promising that the scouts identified these talents.

    • They do seem to identify good HS kids, but I also think they took more chances as fallback plans back when there wasn’t a spending limit. I know Walker Buehler is highly rated too and could be a potential high pick next year. I think Jackson McClelland is a sleeper prospect. The kid is a moose on the mound, throws hard with stamina too and he supposedly works out like crazy. Wasn’t a top 50 sophomore though according to Baseball America. I think he will be highly rated by next year. I also really liked Bryan Baker, the 40th round pick in 2013. He was throwing harder in fall ball this year and I was sold on him before that.

      I’ll admit that I wasn’t high on Trea Turner. He sounded like a slap hitter that they weren’t sure would stick at shortstop. I didn’t see much value in that, at least overpaying to get didn’t seem like a reasonable thing to do. I would say he surpassed those scouting reports that turned me off to him.

      • Lets hope Jack Flaherty or somebody similar is there for the Bucs at #24, nothing like a big athletic SS & RHP from an elite HS program who ultimately projects as a 3B. If we’re going to be consistently drafting at 20-30 in the 1st round going forward, we’re going to have to be very good at finding these HS players because elite college players won’t last until our pick. John – I believe somebody already mentioned Flaherty in another post but please keep an eye on him going forward. Thanks!