On Saturday night in college baseball, we take a look at some of the top hitters as they get their season started. From now until the 2014 amateur draft, which begins on June 5th, we will follow the players that look like they could end up in the Pittsburgh Pirates range when they make their first selection with the 25th overall pick. Yesterday, we took a look at FSU starter Luke Weaver and some other potential first round picks that took the mound for their team on Friday night. If you missed our four-part preview of the draft, you can find all of the links here.
Cal State Fullerton has two of the top bats in the draft this year. Matt Chapman and J.D. Davis will each likely go in the first round. In their opener on Friday, Chapman started at third base and went 1-for-5 with an RBI and a stolen base. Davis played right field and went 1-for-4 with a double and RBI. Phil Bickford, who went tenth overall to the Blue Jays last year but didn’t sign, made his debut for Fullerton and threw two scoreless innings, hitting 96 MPH on the gun. On Saturday, Davis stole the show, going 4-for-6 with two triples, a homer, three runs scored and an RBI. Chapman went 1-for-5 with a walk.
Brad Zimmer from San Francisco went 2-for-4 with a double and walk on Saturday. He went 1-for-3 with a walk and stolen base in the opener. He also struck out twice on Friday. Zimmer was ranked 22nd overall in an early mock draft, so he falls into the Pirates range for now. You can see a video of him from last season down below.
Catcher Kyle Schwarber went 1-for-4 in his season opener on Friday. Indiana played a doubleheader on Saturday and Schwarber started game one behind the plate, moving to left field late. He went 0-for-4 in the first contest. He started game two in right field and finished at catcher, going 2-for-4 with a run scored. Schwarber looks like a possibility for the Pirates and most scouts believe he will end up at first base in the pros. Indiana’s first baseman is Sam Travis, a big power hitter that should go in the second round this year. He went 2-for-11 in the three games, driving in two runs.
Third baseman Alex Blandino from Stanford went 1-for-2 with a run scored in his opener against Rice. He made an error and was hit by a pitch. He went 1-for-2 with a sacrifice fly RBI and a walk on Saturday.
UC Irvine third baseman Taylor Sparks went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a hit-by-pitch in his opener. On Saturday, he went 0-for-5 with two RBIs, two strikeouts and an error. Baseball America ranked Sparks 19th among all college players in the draft.
Catcher Max Pentecost from Kennesaw State went 3-for-5 with a double and two runs scored in the first game of a doubleheader. In game two, he was the DH and he went 2-for-4 with a double and run scored.
The Pirates likely won’t have a second chance at shortstop Trea Turner from North Carolina State. Even an ankle injury last year couldn’t slow him down. For now he looks like a top five pick, along with his teammate, pitcher Carlos Rodon, who will likely go first overall. The Pirates originally selected Turner in the 20th round of the 2011 draft. Due to weather, NC State has had their first two games canceled. They expect to make their season debut, with Rodon on the mound, on Sunday.
Pitcher Jeff Hoffman from East Carolina also looks like a top five pick this year. In his debut on Friday, he didn’t exactly dominate James Madison University, going 6.2 innings, allowing four runs(three earned) on four hits, two walks and he had six strikeouts. You can read a full recap of his outing here.
Jackson McClelland from Pepperdine went seven strong innings against St John’s on Saturday. He was the 35th round pick of the Pirates in the 2012 draft. McClelland allowed one run on three hits and one walks, while striking out two batters. He hit three batters. McClelland was topping out at 95 MPH. His teammate Aaron Brown went 2-for-4 with two runs, two RBIs, a double and a stolen base. Brown was a 17th round pick of the Pirates in the 2011 draft. He played center field on Saturday, but he will be on the mound Sunday.
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.