Draft Prospect Watch: Big Game For Matt Chapman

Yesterday, we covered the Friday night starters in college, which included some struggles for a few of the top pitchers and seven no-hit innings from Aaron Nola. Tonight, we take a look at the top college hitters around the country and how they have fared so far this weekend. The college bats are the weakest group in this draft class right now, so there is plenty of room for position players to step up and move into the top rounds. Check out our four-part season preview of the draft. The Pittsburgh Pirates have the 24th overall pick and the first day of the draft will be held on June 5th.  2014-Draft

The big match-up for college bats this weekend is Cal State Fullerton against San Francisco. They have three of the top rated bats right now, with third baseman Matt Chapman and J.D. Davis, who plays five positions, both at Fullerton and outfielder Bradley Zimmer at San Francisco. On Friday night, they had a 19 inning battle, with the winning run coming off the bat of Zimmer, who hit a solo homer in the top of the 19th inning. He finished the night 2-for-7, with a homer, triple, walk and four RBIs. Chapman went 2-for-8 with a double and three RBIs. Davis had a night he would like to forget. He went 0-for-8 with five strikeouts.

On Saturday, Matt Chapman helped Cal State Fullerton to an 11-0 win. He went 4-for-5 with a home run, two runs scored and two RBIs. Davis had a nice bounce back game, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored, an RBI and a walk. San Francisco was shutout, but Zimmer still had a nice game, going 3-for-4 with three singles.

Indiana has two of the better power bats in the draft, with catcher Kyle Schwarber and first baseman Sam Travis. On Friday against Washington, Schwarber went 4-for-5 with a triple, home run, three runs scored and three RBIs. Travis went 2-for-5 with a triple and an RBI. On Saturday, their game against Utah went 15 innings. Schwarber finished the game 1-for-7 with a single, while Travis was 1-for-6 with a single, RBI and a walk.

Max Pentecost from Kennesaw State is the best college catcher in the draft, with most people assuming Schwarber will move off the position in the pros. Pentecost opened the weekend by going 1-for-4 with an RBI. The one hit was a big one, a walk-off double in the 11th inning over Gardner-Webb. Pentecost threw out two attempted stolen bases(out of four tries) and he also laid down a sacrifice bunt. His team played a doubleheader on Saturday. In game one, Pentecost was the DH and he went 1-for-4 with a single. In game two he caught and went 1-for-3 with a single. Through eight games, he has a .394/.459/.545 slash line.

Third baseman Alex Blandino from Stanford went 1-for-3 with a run scored and hit-by-pitch on Friday against Texas. The hit was a double, his first extra-base hit of the season. The hit-by-pitch was his third of the season. In Saturday’s game, he went 2-for-4 with a double, run scored and RBI.

Taylor Sparks from UC Irvine got off to a very slow start this season, 0-for-15 slow. On Friday night against Wright State, he picked up his first hit, going 1-for-3 with a walk and RBI. That was the good news. The bad news for the third baseman was four errors in the game. On Saturday against Arizona State, Sparks went 2-for-4 with two singles and a run scored. There were questions about his plate patience going into this year, as he had just 17 walks in his first two seasons combined. This start on offensive and defense isn’t doing anything to answer the questions about him, so even though it’s early, his draft stock has probably slipped a little.

Left fielder Michael Conforto from Oregon State was the Pac-12 Player of the Week last week. He started off this week with an 0-for-3 game, though he did draw a walk and drive in his 12th RBI. On Saturday, he again failed to pick up a hit, going 0-for-2 with two walks.

Conforto has a teammate that ranks high for most people, right fielder Dylan Davis. He has been off to a slow start this season, hitting .208/.286/.375 in his first six games. Davis hasn’t pitched this year, but in the past he has shown a mid-90’s fastball and a strong curve ball. As a position player, he has a strong arm in right field. He’s an athletic player with a quick swing, plate patience and power.

Derek Fisher from Virginia took on one of the best college pitchers in East Carolina’s Jeff Hoffman on Friday and went 0-for-4 at the plate. On Saturday, Fisher went 2-for-3 with two singles, an RBI and a walk.

South Carolina’s Joey Pankake went 2-for-4 on Friday with a double and run scored. In game two this weekend, he went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. He played left field on Friday and third base on Saturday. Pankake is hitting .286 through six games, with a .920 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.

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Matt Beam


It’ll be interesting to see if Chapman is still around at #24 .

Another prep guy to keep an eye on, as he’s starting off his sr yr projected as more of a 2nd round pick but could move up with a big spring, is Montrell Marshall. He’s a big athletic HS SS who projects power and a likely move to 3B down the road. He’s another one of the steady stream of Gwinnett GA guys who’s sitting in the Braves backyard every year.

Keep up the great work!

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