Draft Prospect Watch: Prep Shortstops Moving In Different Directions

Some mid-week draft news and notes, plus some early mock drafts. Most of the top college bats were in action tonight, so it’s unusually busy for a Tuesday. Just a reminder, the Pittsburgh Pirates picked 24th overall in the first round of the 2014 amateur draft, which starts on June 5th. For information on some of the best players in this draft class, check out our four-part draft preview2014-Draft

Third baseman Taylor Sparks from UC Irvine actually had two games already this week, so we start with him. After a slow start, his bat has come around lately. On Monday, he went 1-for-3 with a double, walk and RBI. On Tuesday night, Sparks went 1-for-4 with three strikeouts. One of the flaws Sparks needed to work on this year was his high strikeout rate. He has now struck out 21 times in 60 at-bats.

Catcher Max Pentecost and Kennesaw State took on Auburn on Tuesday. Some scouts and experts have been down on him this year due to his average numbers against weaker pitching. He didn’t have a good day against Auburn, going 0-for-4 with an RBI, which accounted for his team’s only run.

South Carolina took on Furman on Tuesday. Coming into the game with a 15-0 record and two tops rated college bats, South Carolina won the game 5-0. Catcher Grayson Greiner went 1-for-3 with a double, walk and run scored.Their other top bat, Joey Pankake, was out of the lineup Tuesday. He left Saturday’s game early with a tweaked hamstring and missed Sunday’s game as well.

Oregon State outfielders Dylan Davis and Michael Conforto had a game against Ohio State on Tuesday night. They won 4-3 and Conforto went 0-for-2 with two walks, while Davis was 2-for-4 with a double, RBI and run scored.

Cal State Fullerton was at San Diego Tuesday night. Third baseman Matt Chapman had a rough night, going 0-for-5 with two strikeouts.First baseman J.D. Davis went 1-for-3 with two walks and a run scored. He came in to pitch during the eighth inning and took the loss two innings later, allowing a walk-off two run homer.

Catcher Kyle Schwarber and first baseman Sam Travis from Indiana, were in action against Kentucky. Schwarber went 2-for-4 with three runs scored, a double and an RBI. Travis went 1-for-4 with two runs batted in.

Virginia has so many top rated bats in their lineup, it’s tough to keep up with all of them. They took on James Madison on Tuesday afternoon and won a one-sided affair. Going in order of how they would rank right now, Derek Fisher had the day off, while two of the others were out before the game was over. First baseman Mike Papi went 2-for-4 with a walk, two runs and three RBIs. Nick Howard was at DH and he had a 1-for-5 day, scoring one run. Center fielder Brandon Downes was 0-for-3 with a walk and run scored. Second baseman Branden Cogswell was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBIs. Cogswell has been in a slump all year, so this could possibly be a breakout game for him.

Draft News and Notes

If you missed it from yesterday, three mock drafts were released from respected sources in the industry. Those three mocks had three different results for the Pirates, but one player was mentioned in the Pirates range in all three drafts.

Keith Law and Chris Crawford put out draft articles for ESPN Insider(subscription required). They mentioned two prep shortstops going in different directions. Nick Gordon seems to be moving up the charts, while Jacob Gatewood has moved down for some, who question his bat and chance to stick at shortstop in the pros. Scouts are worried that Gatewood tries to hard to hit homers and may not be able to hit for average in the majors. Gordon provides an all-around strong game with the ability to stick at shortstop. The article from Crawford is also filled with notes on some of the best college players in this draft.

Dan Kirby has his weekly column of ten college players on the rise. Among them are Sean Newcomb, a workhorse lefty, who could fall in the Pirates range on draft day.

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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