It’s the sixth weekend of the college baseball season and like every Friday night, we will focus on the Friday night starters that are draft eligible this year. The 2014 draft begins on June 5th. The Pittsburgh Pirates have the 24th pick in the first round this year. They also picked 65th overall in the second round and 74th, which is their competitive balance pick. For more information on the top players in this draft class, check out our four-part draft preview.
Earlier today, Keith Law released his list of the top 50 draft prospects, so we will use his list to cover the top college starters from Friday night.
The highest rated college starting pitcher on his list is North Carolina State’s Carlos Rodon in the #3 spot. He was the consensus top overall pick going into the season, but he hasn’t been as dominant as scouts had hoped. Going up against Maryland on the road, Rodon went just 4.2 innings and got hit hard, but also had some poor defense behind him. He allowed eight runs, which were all unearned. Despite that, he still allowed six hits and four walks in his short outing. Rodon had eight strikeouts.
The big story from the game was the outing from Maryland starter Jake Stinnett, who was drafted by the Pirates last year, but decided to return to school. He threw eight shutout innings and had 14 strikeouts. Trea Turner from NC State is ranked by many as the top college bat in this draft, but going up against Stinnett, he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Turner is also a former Pirates pick. Stinnett has established himself early as a strong starter and will definitely go higher than he did in 2013 when the Pirates took him in the 29th round.
Vanderbilt’s Tyler Beede was ranked fourth by Law. He faced Mississippi State on Friday and had a horrible outing. In 2.2 innings, he allowed 11 runs(five earned) on six hits, five walks and one hit batter. Beede had two strikeouts. Coming into the game, he had an 0.84 ERA in 32.1 innings, with 14 hits allowed and six walks.
Jeff Hoffman from East Carolina has not been pitching up to his standards this year. He came into the season as a possible #2 pick, but for most people, including Law(#6) he has definitely dropped. Against Charlotte on Friday, he had a strong outing, except for a low strikeout total. Hoffman went seven innings, allowing three runs on six hits, two walks and he had two strikeouts.
Florida State’s Luke Weaver had a bad outing on Friday against Clemson, adding to the rough day for top starters. He went seven innings, allowing six runs on 11 hits, one walk and he struck out three hitters. He now has a 3.13 ERA in six starts, allowing 36 hits and nine walks in 37.1 innings. He has a .252 BAA and 34 strikeouts. Law had Weaver 11th.
Aaron Nola is ranked 14th and he could be someone that moves a lot higher, because he has been brilliant this year. Nola has now allowed just one run in 40.1 innings this year. On Friday against Georgia, he gave up two hits, four walks, struck out eight and threw 6.2 scoreless innings.
Sean Newcomb from Hartford(ranked 15th) gets his weekend start on Saturday during a doubleheader against Binghamton.
Brandon Finnegan from TCU(#23) threw seven shutout innings against Texas Tech. He gave up three hits, walked two and struck out ten batters. In 43.2 innings this year, he has 65 strikeouts, a 1.44 ERA and a .172 BAA. Finnegan has walked just nine batters so far this year.
Andrew Suarez from Miami hasn’t been mentioned here yet, so a little background on him since Law had him ranked 33rd. He is a 6’2″, 205 pound left-hander. His team plays tomorrow against Virginia, a team with a loaded lineup, so it is a great test for Suarez. So far this year in five starts, he has a 3.55 ERA in 33 innings, with eight walks, 30 strikeouts and a .233 BAA. He can hit 95 MPH with his fastball and early projections gave him a chance to have four plus pitches, among them a slider that hits 85 and an improving change-up. Kiley McDaniel posted a video of Suarez late last month.
Matt Imhof from Cal-Poly has been getting a lot of good reviews early this year. Many had him in the second round range coming into the year, but recent talks have him looking more like a late-first round pick. We had a write-up of Imhof here earlier in the week, with two videos included. Against California on Friday night, he went 7.2 innings, giving up one run on three hits and four walks, plus a hit batter, while racking up nine strikeouts.
Erick Fedde from UNLV came in at 44th place, lower than most had him early in the year. His Friday night outing against San Diego State probably won’t move him up, but he ended up with a fairly good outing after giving up runs in each of the first two innings. He threw a complete game win, needing 121 pitches to get through his night. Fedde allowed four runs(three earned) on six hits and two walks, while striking out 12 batters.
Zech Lemond from Rice was a 50th round selection of the Pirates in 2011. Law has him 47th and many others have mentioned his name moving up the charts, especially since he was moved to the Friday night role a few starts ago. Lemond will keep moving up with more starts like his outing against Florida Atlantic. He threw 8.1 shutout innings, giving up six hits, three walks and he struck out 12 batters.
Jordan Brink from Fresno State was rated 48th, but that may have changed if Law waited a couple hours because it was announced Friday afternoon that he would be moved from the Friday night starter to the closer role. Nick Burdi from Louisville and Michael Cederoth from San Diego State are usually ranked as the top two relievers in college, but Law had neither on his top 50 list.
Finally, one player on note that didn’t make Law’s list. Chris Ellis from Ole Miss was the Pirates pick in a mock draft last week. Ellis took on Missouri on Friday and allowed one unearned run on five hits and two walks, with two strikeouts.
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.