After covering most of the top draft-eligible college starters on Friday night, we take a look at the best college hitters and how they have fared during the first two days of the weekend schedule. The 2014 draft begins on June 5th, just under eight 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.
Bradley Zimmer, an outfielder from San Francisco, has emerged as the top college bat for many. On Friday, his team put up seven runs and 14 hits against Pacific, but Zimmer was surprisingly quiet. He went 0-for-5 with a walk. On Saturday, Zimmer was 1-for-5 with a walk. A slow weekend might not hurt him much, because no other college bat is stepping up to take his place in that top spot.
The two big bats for Oregon State were held hitless against Washington State on Friday. Michael Conforto went 0-for-3 with a walk, while fellow outfielder Dylan Davis was 0-for-4 in the game. On Saturday, Oregon State scored 12 runs and Conforto scored four of them. He went 3-for-4 and reached via walk and hit-by-pitch. Davis was 2-for-5 with a double, walk, two runs scored and three RBIs.
Indiana beat up on Morehead State Friday night and their two top hitters each had big games. First baseman Sam Travis went 3-for-4 with six RBIs, three runs scored, two homers and a double. Catcher Kyle Schwarber was 2-for-3 with a triple, walk, RBI and three runs scored. Both players left the game early due to the one-sided score. On Saturday, Indiana put up 11 runs, but one of the big bats was rather quiet. Kyle Schwarber went 2-for-5 with a double and two runs driven in, but Travis finished up 1-for-5 with a single.
Cal State Fullerton took on UC Santa Barbara on Friday and the game ended up getting suspended with the score tied after ten innings. They resumed the game on Saturday prior to the scheduled game. Third baseman Matt Chapman went 1-for-4 with a sacrifice fly and two RBIs. J.D. Davis started the game in right field, then moved to pitcher and actually pitched both Friday night and Saturday when it resumed. He won the game with two scoreless innings and went 2-for-4 with two runs, two RBIs, two walks and a double. In the regularly scheduled game on Saturday, Chapman was 0-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch, while Davis was 1-for-4 with a single.
Catcher Max Pentecost from Kennesaw State, had a big game against Stetson on Friday. He went 4-for-4 with a home run, stolen base and four RBIs. On Saturday, Pentecost went 1-for-4 with a single in his team’s 5-0 win. Through 38 games, he is hitting .370/.425/.537 in 162 at-bats, with 10 stolen bases in 11 attempts, showing excellent base running for a catcher.
First baseman Mike Papi from Virginia went 0-for-3 with a walk on Friday night against Clemson. He has moved to the top ranked prospect on the team with outfielder Derek Fisher still out after an injury to his hamate on his right hand last month. On Saturday, Papi was 1-for-3 with a single and two walks.
We covered the first day of the week for Wichita State first baseman Casey Gillaspie and NC State shortstop Trea Turner in yesterday’s draft recap. On Saturday, Turner went 0-for-4, dropping his average below the .300 mark. His stock has slipped this year with his less than stellar performance at the plate. Gillaspie is moving just the opposite, possibly getting into the first round and he will have no trouble doing that with more performances like Saturday. He went 3-for-4 with a run and RBI.
Matt Imhof from Cal Poly was one of two top pitchers that we didn’t cover here last night. He had a road start in Hawaii, so his game didn’t start until after midnight on the East Coast. Imhof went six innings in a 3-2 win, giving up two runs on five hits and three walks, with seven strikeouts. He threw 108 pitches, 66 for strikes. One thing of note with the outing, Reed Reilly followed Imhof and threw three perfect innings, striking out four, so he really dominated the same Hawaii lineup that Imhof faced.
Sean Newcomb went Saturday for Hartford against Rutgers. The big lefty has been mentioned as a possible pick in the Pirates range all season and up until recently, he wasn’t disappointing anyone. He nearly threw shutout ball(one unearned run) in his first six starts combined before finally giving up three earned runs in his start last weekend. Newcomb couldn’t bounce back against Rutgers, allowing four runs on eight hits and a walk in 5.1 innings. He had just three strikeouts after striking out at least six batters in each of his first seven starts.
Earlier this week, Baseball America posted their updated list of the top 50 prospects in this draft class. The group of college bats selected to recap above, is based on BA’s list. One of the players listed near where the Pirates pick in the first round is Monte Harrison, an outfielder out of Lee’s Summit West HS in Missouri. We haven’t mentioned Harrison here yet because he wasn’t rated that high early in the year. Clint Longenecker has an article covering Harrison, along with prep third baseman Michael Chavis, who has been mentioned here in the past. Chavis was ranked 23rd by BA, so he is one to follow. I’ve included a video of Harrison below courtesy of Baseball Factory.
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.