It’s week four of the college season and we are starting to see some players making moves up the draft charts. In today’s article, we take a look at the games from Friday night, covering the best pitchers in college. On Thursday, we posted a mid-week recap, as well as numerous links covering last weekend. The draft begins on June 8th and the Pittsburgh Pirates have the 19th and 32nd overall picks. It was announced last Thursday that the Pirates will have the 11th highest draft bonus pool.
The big match-up this weekend was at UCLA, where Vanderbilt’s Carson Fulmer and UCLA’s James Kaprielian each got the start on Friday night. Both pitchers look like they will be first round picks as of now, but Kaprielian didn’t have a great outing. He went 5.1 innings, allowing four runs(three earned) on eight hits and a walk. He had nine strikeouts and needed 103 pitches to get through his outing.
Fulmer looked like the better pitcher in this game, although he wasn’t sharp all game. Reports had him looking good late in the game and hitting 94 MPH, but he had control issues. Fulmer threw 6.1 shutout innings, allowing three hits, five walks and he hit a batter. He had nine strikeouts and threw 112 pitches in the game, 56 strikes and 56 balls. Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson went 2-for-5 with two singles and two strikeouts. He stole a base, scored a run and had an RBI. In 13 games, Swanson is hitting .351 and he has been a big part of his team’s offense, driving in 16 runs and scoring 14 times.
UC Santa Barbara’s Dillon Tate faced Sacramento State on Friday night. He has moved to the top of this draft class with his performance this year, and he continued his strong season yesterday. Tate threw seven shutout innings, striking out ten batters. He allowed five hits and three walks, but still kept the opposition off the board for the third time in four starts. Tate has an 0.96 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 28 innings.
On Thursday, Phil Bickford had an incredible start for Southern Nevada against Utah State Eastern. He threw six no-hit innings, walking one batter and striking out 15, while throwing just 78 pitches. In week two, he threw five shutout innings and had 13 strikeouts. In between, he struggled through four innings, giving up four earned runs.
Illinois reliever Tyler Jay has been impressive this year. He threw three shutout innings on Tuesday, with just one batter reaching base, and that was on a wild pitch after the third strike. On Friday, he threw 1.2 scoreless innings, allowing two hits, with a walk and two strikeouts. On the year, he has thrown 17.1 scoreless innings, allowing just seven hits and two walks, while striking out 20 of the 59 batters he has faced.
Some top pitchers didn’t make their start on Friday night. Louisville had their game against #10 Miami canceled due to weather. The two teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday and Kyle Funkhouser is scheduled to get the start in game one. He has recently moved up into the top five for some people, so facing a top team will be a good test.
Michael Matuella from Duke will make his first start since week one on Saturday. He is going up against North Carolina, who will send freshman J.B. Bukauskas to the mound. Bukauskas was draft-eligible last year, but asked not to be drafted even though he was rated extremely high after hitting 100 MPH numerous times during the spring. According to John Manuel, Matuella will be limited to 40 pitches.
Virginia’s Nathan Kirby will get his start against Pittsburgh this weekend, but not on Friday and not at home. Due to weather, the series turned into a Saturday doubleheader followed by a Sunday game. The series was also relocated to Cary,NC due to weather. Last Friday, Kirby threw six shutout innings and had ten strikeouts.
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.
What kind of competition is Bickford seeing playing for a very small school in Nevada?
It is good for that level, but not near a Division I school. He transferred to be draft-eligible this year instead of 2016 after having a strong summer league season. That area where he is playing is a hotbed for baseball now, so even the smaller schools get some talented players
Good job will the continual analysis. In the beginning of the college season, I was hoping for Phil Bickford with the 1st pick (19) and Dillon Tate with the 2nd pick (32). It’s awesome to hear they are pitching well, however, it is become more unlikely they will be available when the Pirates pick if this continues, especially Tate at 32.
I don’t even think Tate will be around at 19, he has really jumped up the charts. It’s obviously still early(most HS teams haven’t even played yet) but one scout said that he thinks Tate will go with the first two picks. He has been a reliever in the past, so he might not be able to handle the full workload. That is basically the only reason I’m still following him now