Friday night was the opener for many of the best pitchers in college baseball. Today, we take our first look at some of the best college hitters in the draft this year. You can read the college hitter preview here, to familiarize yourself with these players listed below. The draft begins on June 8th and the Pittsburgh Pirates have the 19th and 32nd overall picks.
Vanderbilt played a doubleheader on Saturday. Shortstop Dansby Swanson went 1-for-5 with a run scored in his debut on Friday. In game one on Saturday, he went 4-for-4, scoring twice and driving in two runs. He connected on two doubles and also drew a walk. In game two, Swanson went 1-for-5 with a single and a walk. He also committed an error.
Florida shortstop Richie Martin went 1-for-4 with a walk, run scored, RBI and stolen base in his debut on Friday. His team put up 22 runs on Saturday. Martin went 1-for-2 with a single, walk, sacrifice bunt and he scored two runs.
LSU shortstop Alex Bregman had an infield single in four trips to the plate on Friday. He also stole a base. On Saturday, he went 1-for-4 with a single, HBP and a run scored.
D.J. Stewart from Florida State had a big opening game. He went 3-for-3, with two singles and an RBI double. He also walked twice and stole a base. In his second game, FSU won 15-2, but Stewart didn’t have much of a game, going 0-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored.
Center fielder Ian Happ and his Cincinnati team played two games on Friday. In game one again Miami(Ohio), he went 3-for-4, with a double and a homer. In game two against Mississippi State, he went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. On Saturday, Happ hit his second homer and second double of the season. He went 2-for-4 with a walk, driving in two runs.
Pacific right fielder Gio Brusa went 1-for-4 in his debut. On Saturday, he went 1-for-5 with a single and two strikeouts.
Boston College right fielder Chris Shaw went 0-for-2 with two walks, a strikeout and a run scored in his first game on Friday. On Saturday, his team played a doubleheader, taking on Xavier during the day and USC Upstate at night. In game one, Shaw went 2-for-4 with a home run and two walks. He drove in three runs. In game two, he had three walks and two RBI ground outs.
Pitcher Dillon Tate made his first career start, pitching game one for UC Santa Barbara on Saturday. He had an impressive outing, throwing 6.2 shutout innings, giving up three hits and a walk. Tate had eight strikeouts and threw 58 of his 91 pitches for strikes. He hit 98 MPH with his fastball, which was sitting mid-90’s early.
Houston’s Jake Lemoine made his first start on Saturday. He went five shutout innings, giving up six hits, no walks and struck out six batters. He threw 78 pitches and Kendall Rogers had some good things to say about his start:
— Kendall Rogers (@KendallRogers) February 15, 2015
Tyler Ferguson is the third best starting pitcher this year at Vanderbilt, but it’s still possible he gets drafted in the first round. He will need to do a lot better than he did on Saturday. Ferguson lasted just two innings because he couldn’t find the strike zone. He allowed three runs(one earned) on one hit and five walks. He threw 46 pitches, just 16 going for strikes.
Keith Law has a recap(subscription required) of the second start from Jacob Nix, who didn’t sign last year with the Houston Astros due to issues associated with their failure to sign first overall pick Brady Aiken. Nix is attending the IMG Academy in Bradenton so he is eligible to be drafted again this year. In his second start, he was hitting 96 MPH and throwing mostly fastballs. Law said that Nix added about 25 pounds of muscle and with some slight improvements, could work his way into the back end of the first round.
An update on a Pirates pick from 2012. Pepperdine’s Jackson McClelland was taken by the Pirates in the 35th round that year. On Saturday against Tulane, he threw six shutout innings, allowing four hits and three walks, while striking out six batters. Reports from the game had him topping out at 96 MPH.
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.