We recap the action from the top college pitchers that started on Friday night, plus there are some interesting links at the bottom, two of which focus on last year’s top overall pick. You can see last week’s Friday night recap here, covering many of the players listed below. The draft begins on June 8th and the Pittsburgh Pirates have the 19th and 32nd overall picks. It was announced on Thursday that the Pirates will have the 11th highest draft bonus pool.
Vanderbilt’s Carson Fulmer had a terrific outing against Illinois State on Friday. He threw six shutout innings, giving up two hits and three walks, while striking out 11 batters. He threw 104 pitches, 62 for strikes. Shortstop Dansby Swanson went 2-for-4, driving in runs with an RBI single and an RBI double, both in the sixth inning. He also drew a walk and stole a base. Both players are possibilities right now for the Pirates first pick.
Virginia’s Nathan Kirby had a similar game to Fulmer. Going up against Hartford, he threw six shutout innings, striking out ten hitters. It was far from a flawless outing despite the results. Kirby allowed five hits, walked four and hit a batter. He has an 0.49 ERA in 18.1 innings, with 24 strikeouts.
Dillon Tate from UC Santa Barbara had his third straight strong outing to open up the season and if you check the links below, you’ll see that scouts think he is working his way towards the top of the draft class. His game on Friday against Oregon fell apart late, but Tate still impressed scouts by sitting mid-90’s and hitting 98 MPH. In 7.1 innings, he gave up three runs on three hits and four walks, with eight strikeouts. He threw 112 pitches and two of the runs scored after he left the game.
UCLA’s James Kaprielian faced Michigan State on Friday night. He went seven innings, allowing two runs on three hits and no walks. He picked up eight strikeouts. In his first two starts, Kaprielian allowed four earned runs over 12 innings, with a 2/12 BB/SO ratio.
Phil Bickford had a great outing last week for Southern Nevada, striking out 13 batters over five shutout innings. Things didn’t go well this week against Colorado Northwestern Community. In four innings, he allowed four earned runs on five hits and four walks, while striking out six batters.
Louisville’s Kyle Funkhouser had his Friday night start postponed due to weather. He will pitch during Saturday’s doubleheader versus Xavier. More about Funkhouser in the links below.
It was announced that Duke’s Michael Matuella will likely start on Sunday this week after missing last week’s start with right forearm tightness. Miami’s Andrew Suarez will miss his second start due to an oblique strain.
Links and Notes
*Last year, the Houston Astros took high school pitcher Brady Aiken first overall in the draft and the two sides couldn’t agree to a deal. Aiken decided on Thursday to attend IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. so he could pitcher in front of scouts and be eligible for the draft again this year. He will pitch alongside Jacob Nix, who was also taken by the Astros and didn’t sign. You can read here what led to the two players not signing and what to expect. Jim Callis also gives his take of Aiken, while including the academy’s schedule and a video of Aiken in action.
*Baseball America lists the top 50 by each college class, noting the sophomores and freshman that are eligible to sign. While they didn’t update their overall top 50 list, you can see that some names have moved up/down in the rankings, such as Kyle Funkhouser, who is now their top rated junior. Expanding on that change, John Manuel explains how some players have made moves already and how quickly the perception of a player can change.
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.