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Thursday, December 1, 2022

Draft Prospect Watch: Phil Bickford Puts Up Big Strikeout Numbers, Three Top Pitchers Get Scratched

Friday night was the start of the second weekend in college baseball and that means it is time to take a look at the best college pitchers in this draft class. You can check the action from last Friday here, along with the college pitcher preview to get acclimated to these players mentioned below. The draft begins on June 8th and the Pittsburgh Pirates have the 19th and 32nd overall picks.

Louisville’s Kyle Funkhouser was the headline pitcher last week, so his outing this week is a bit of a surprise. Against Arkansas State on Friday afternoon, he went 4.2 innings in an 8-2 loss. Funkhouser gave up seven runs(four earned) on seven hits, three walks and two hit batters. The only upsides to the day were his seven strikeouts and the 95 MPH radar readings. He threw 100 pitches on the day, with 63 going for strikes.

Virginia’s Nathan Kirby had a high pitch count early against Marist, but still put up strong results. He needed 97 pitches to get through 5.1 innings. Kirby gave up one run on three hits and a walk, while striking out nine batters.

Vanderbilt took on Indiana State on Friday with Carson Fulmer on the mound. He went five innings, allowing two runs on four hits, two walks and a hit batter. Fulmer threw 94 pitches and picked up six strikeouts. Fulmer is consistently ranked near the Pirates first pick in the early season lists. Shortstop Dansby Swanson could go even higher than his teammate in the draft. He is a likely top ten pick, assuming he has a good junior season. On Friday, he went 2-for-4 with a walk and run scored.

Kendall Rogers reports that it is highly unlikely that Walker Buehler pitches this weekend. Rogers also reports that Buehler is progressing fine from his elbow injury that kept him out of week one action.

Phil Bickford from Southern Nevada pitched on Thursday and threw five scoreless innings, allowing two hits, two walks and he struck out 13 batters. In four starts, he has a 1.77 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 20.1 innings. Bickford was drafted by the Blue Jays in 2013, taken tenth overall. After not signing, he attended Cal State Fullerton for one year, before transferring to a JUCO school so he would be eligible for the 2015 draft.

Kentucky’s Kyle Cody took on UC Santa Barbara on Friday. The two teams avoided a premium match-up, as UCSB’s Dillon Tate will go on Saturday against Kentucky. Both Tate and Cody are top 50 prospects coming off strong first weeks. Cody couldn’t carry that success into his second start, lasting just three innings. He gave up seven earned runs on six hits, a walk and a hit batter. He finished with three strikeouts.

UCLA’s James Kaprielian went six innings on Friday against North Carolina. He allowed four runs(three earned) on seven hits and no walks. Kaprielian threw 86 pitched and recorded seven strikeouts.

Duke’s Michael Matuella is considered by many as the top college pitcher in this class, so the news from Friday wasn’t good. He will miss his start with right forearm tightness. Matuella will likely make his next start.

Speaking of scratched starters, Miami lefty Andrew Suarez missed his second start with an oblique injury suffered during his pre-game bullpen. He was drafted last year in the second round, 57th overall by the Nationals, but chose to return to college.

Thursday’s draft article got buried quickly with ten articles going up that day, so many people missed it. There were five real good links in there worth checking out from the early part of this week.

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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.


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John – think Matuella or Buehler would drop to #19 if they had to get TJS?

I certainly wouldn’t expect Giolito upside, but you think either would be worth it?


Thanks, John. Too much content from you guys lately…hard to track all the articles! 😉

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