Friday night is when most of the top college pitchers make their weekly start, so we concentrate on that group today. If you missed it from last week, we posted an article on what the Pirates could expect with their first round pick this year.That was followed up by thoughts from GM Neal Huntington on the draft.The 2014 draft begins on June 5th, just under six weeks away. 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.
Starting with the top rated college pitcher, North Carolina State’s Carlos Rodon, who now trails prep pitchers Tyler Kolek and Brady Aiken in many of the recent draft rankings. Rodon took on Georgia Tech on Friday night and pitched nine strong innings, but he threw 132 pitches, which gives him a total of 510 pitches over his last four starts, dating back to April 6th. Rodon gave up one run on six hits and two walks, while striking out 15 batters. He was ranked first overall to start the year, but many have him 3rd/4th and the overwork recently might scare some teams away.
NC State shortstop Trea Turner was 1-for-4 with a single. His recent rankings have been in the 15-20 range, down from early in the season when he was the top rated college bat.
East Carolina righty Jeff Hoffman was supposed to take on Florida Atlantic on Friday, but he experienced mild arm soreness according to his coach and won’t start this week. He may possibly miss next weekend’s start as well. That will probably hurt his draft stock, depending on how he looks when he returns. Hoffman is in the 6-10 range for most people right now, but we will see where his stock goes over the next couple weeks.
Tyler Beede and Vanderbilt faced off against Georgia this weekend. He had his game cut short after five innings due to a power outage, which caused a long delay. Beede went five shutout innings, giving up two hits, three walks and he had seven strikeouts. He threw 81 pitches and with a 10-0 lead at the time, he probably wouldn’t have gone too much longer.
LSU and Aaron Nola took on Tennessee on Friday. He lasted 5.2 innings and needed 115 pitches to get through his day. Nola gave up five runs on eight hits and four walks, while striking out four batters. He is a likely top ten pick, as long as he doesn’t have more days like tonight.
Kyle Freeland and Evansville, went up against Bradley this week. Freeland had a combined 42 strikeouts in his previous three starts. He wasn’t as sharp as usual this week, though he start was still a strong one. He went 7.2 innings, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks, with ten strikeouts. Freeland had just four walks allowed over 64 innings coming into the game.
TCU played Cal State Northridge on Friday. Brandon Finnegan went 2.2 innings before leaving his game due to an apparent injury. He gave up one hit, struck out one and threw 24 pitches, 17 for strikes. Finnegan was pulled after a trainer visited the mound and later reports called it mild shoulder soreness.
UNLV’s Erick Fedde pitched against New Mexico this week. He went 6.2 innings, allowing one run while scattering nine hits and two walks. He threw 120 pitches, 78 for strikes and he had seven strikeouts. Fedde is another that could go in the top ten picks, with some having him very high.
Cal Poly’s Matt Imhof went 6.1 innings against Long Beach State. He allowed three runs on six hits and four walks, with four strikeouts. He has been rated just outside the first round recently, so it’s unlikely tonight’s start will help out his draft position.
The big match-up this week was Florida State’s Luke Weaver going up against Virginia, with outfielder Derek Fisher and first baseman Mike Papi. All three will go within the first two rounds and they all have a chance to sneak into the first round. Weaver went seven innings, surrendering three runs on nine hits and he didn’t walk anyone. He had five strikeouts and five of the hits he allowed were extra-base hits. Fisher had a big game, going 3-for-5 with three doubles and two RBIs. Papi had just one hit in five trips to the plate, but it was a solo homer that tied the game in the eighth inning.
One top starter didn’t see action on Friday. Hartford’s Sean Newcomb goes up against Binghamton on Saturday.
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.