After a busy Friday night that saw some great pitching match-ups, we take a look at the top college hitters and how they have fared through the first two days of the weekend. Also, we have some draft news, notes and links at the bottom. The 2014 draft begins on June 5th. The Pittsburgh Pirates have the 24th pick in the first round this year. For more information on the top players in this draft class, check out our four-part draft preview.
Oregon State, with top outfielders Dylan Davis and Michael Conforto, took on Utah this weekend. On Friday, Conforto went 2-for-3 with his first homer of the season. He also drew a walk and scored two runs. Davis went 3-for-5 with a run scored. On Saturday, Conforto was 1-for-4 with a walk and run scored, while Davis was 1-for-4 with a double, RBI, run scored and walk. Through 20 games, Conforto has a .387/.570/.581 slash line, with 27 RBIs and 25 walks. Davis has a .267/.360/.400 line, with 21 RBIs.
Cal State Fullerton had a 13 inning game on Friday against St Mary’s. Third baseman Matt Chapman went 0-for-5 with an RBI on a sacrifice fly and he was hit by a pitch. First baseman J.D. Davis had a big game, going 4-for-5 with two RBIs and two walks. On Saturday night, CSUF got shut out on just four hits. Davis was in right field and he went 1-for-3 with a walk, while Chapman went 0-for-4, giving him an 0-for-9 in the series so far.
Indiana traveled to Long Beach State this weekend. On Friday, catcher Kyle Schwarber went 1-for-4 with a walk and RBI, while first baseman Sam Travis was 2-for-4 with two singles. On Saturday, Schwarber went 2-for-5 with two singles, while Travis was 1-for-4 with a walk and run scored.
Virginia takes on Boston College this weekend without their top player. Outfielder Derek Fisher is out 4-6 weeks with a broken hamate. They still have four batters in their lineup that could be drafted in the top five rounds this year. Nick Howard played first base Friday in place of Mike Papi, who moved to the outfield to replace Fisher. Howard had only been a DH this year, when he isn’t pitching out of the bullpen. He went 0-for-4 with a run scored on Friday. Papi went 1-for-4 with a walk and run scored. Brandon Downes and Branden Cogswell are the other two big bats in the lineup. Cogswell was 1-for-4 with a walk, while Downes was 1-for-4 with a hit-by-pitch.
They played a doubleheader on Saturday in Virginia. In game one, which went 12 innings, Papi was 1-for-5 with a walk and an RBI. Howard was 1-for-2 with a walk and RBI, plus he pitched 2.2 scoreless innings, struck out five and picked up the win. Cogswell was 1-for-4 with a walk and run scored, while Downes was 1-for-5 with a walk. In game two, all four players collected at least one hit. Howard had two hits, Papi drove in a run and both Cogswell and Downes had doubles.
San Francisco’s Bradley Zimmer is moving up the draft charts for some people and his Friday night only helped his cause. He went 2-for-3 with a home run, stolen base, hit-by-pitch and three runs scored. Saturday afternoon was a rather quiet game for Zimmer. He was 1-for-4 with a single and run scored.
Max Pentecost from Kennesaw State, was 1-for-4 with a single on Friday against Mercer. They played a doubleheader on Saturday. Pentecost caught game one and went 1-for-3 with a double and walk. In game two, he was in the DH spot and went 1-for-5 with a single, stolen base and strikeout.
UC Irvine third baseman Taylor Sparks went 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs on Friday against Nebraska. During a Saturday doubleheader, he went 1-for-4 with a solo homer in game one and 2-for-4 with a run scored and stolen base in the second game.
Tyler Kolek could be the first overall pick this year and he keeps getting better. The big right-handed prep pitcher, has pitched 16 innings over his first three games. He has yet to allow a hit, while walking just one batter and he has 35 strikeouts. According to reports from the game, Kolek was hitting 102 MPH.
Clint Longenecker from Baseball America held a draft chat Friday and he answered a ton of questions covering many of the players we have mentioned here. Definitely worth checking out.
Cobi Johnson had a rough outing Friday night, giving up five runs(four earned) on five hits and three walks over four innings. He struck out eight batters. Johnson is a mid-to-late first round talent if he can put everything together. He had stamina issues coming into this season. In 17 innings over four starts, he has allowed 17 hits, five walks and has picked up 29 strikeouts. Johnson has a 1-1, 3.29 record.
Another mock draft came out, this one from a site called My MLB Draft. They update their mock draft often during the year, but this is the first one since the college season started. They have Michael Conforto going to the Pirates. Three other mock drafts came out earlier this week.
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.
Not too long ago, the list of pitchers who could top 99 mph was a shot one:
Soon we’ll hear about a LLer needing three digits to measure his fastball!
John any idea what Koleck’s velocity is generally ? That kind of velocity is impressive to say the least .
Last year he was hitting 97 MPH, so he has really stepped it up as a senior. Some are now predicting he will go first overall. While he obviously won’t be around for the Pirates, it’s good to see so many strong pitchers moving up the draft charts. In a weak draft class, the 24th pick probably won’t be an impact talent, but this class seems to be very deep with both HS and college pitchers, plus a few hitters sprinkled in too.
The amount of potential frontline starters in this class is incredible: Rodon, Aiken, Beede, Kolek, Newcomb, Toussaint, Holmes, Kopech, Hoffman, and Cease. Then behind them, you have plenty of players who could turn into future No. 2 or 3 starters in: Ortiz, Nola, Weaver, Reid-Foley, Blewett, Sheffield, and Frink. Of course, a bunch of fans are going to want the Pirates, as always, to go with offense but I’d be very tempted to go pitching when these guys are available
Right now I’m thinking they will get a strong starter. You have to figure a few bats are definite to go off the board early so someone will drop to them that is a big arm. Jackson, Turner, Gordon are definites to go before they pick and then there are a lot of probables. The good thing is that the college corner infielders are a deep position too, but nothing great right now. So you could see a big arm in the first round and a solid bat with both the 65th and 74th picks. I think that’s what people want to see, but you have to take the best player on the board and I think they will have a lot of strong pitchers to choose from, even at the 24 spot.
John, not you too! “Best Player on the board” at 24, the difference between the 15th best player and the 30th best player is going to be extremely small, to the point where “the most valuable player” on the board needs to be taken. For a team who refuses to spend big on free agents, and whom seems to be wary of trading prospects in positions of depth for positions of need………..you have to start filling up buckets. We saw this offseason what happens when you don’t, we have an extremely weak infield in terms of prospects system wide, we need to start addressing that. We can’t keep drafting outfielders and right handed pitchers.
The only time I’d factor in position is if you have two guys so close that either could be the best player depending on which scout you ask, then I’d go with the position. The reason you don’t just take the biggest need is that none of these draft picks fill an immediate need and there are no guarantees. You take the best available because you feel they have the best shot to make the majors and also have the most trade value. An average SS/3B is not more valuable than above average RHP, no matter what your farm system looks like.