Draft Prospect Watch: Dansby Swanson is Perfect at the Plate, Joe Demers is Perfect on the Mound

Today we take a look at some action from early this week, as well as some notes at the bottom from the weekend. The draft begins on June 8th and the Pittsburgh Pirates have the 19th and 32nd overall picks. The Pirates will have the 11th highest draft bonus pool.

Cincinnati right fielder Ian Happ has been the best hitter early on and he has played two games during this week so far. On Monday against Niagara, he went 1-for-3 with two walks in a 2-1 win. On Wednesday against Kentucky, he went 1-for-4 with a double and two strikeouts in a 9-1 loss.

Florida shortstop Richie Martin went 1-for-5 on Tuesday against Fairfield. He scored a run, drove in one and stole his fourth base of the season. On Wednesday, he had another 1-for-5 day, driving home a run with an RBI double. His hitting hasn’t been that good early in the season, but his ability to stick at shortstop should keep him in the first round even if the bat doesn’t come around.

Florida State took on UCF twice this week. On Tuesday, left fielder D.J. Stewart went 1-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored. On Wednesday, he was 0-for-4 with a HBP and run scored. Stewart is hitting .273/.512/.600 through 18 games. He has five homers and 23 walks.

Vanderbilt took on Quinnipiac on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Shortstop Dansby Swanson went 1-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored on Tuesday in a 9-2 win. On Wednesday, he went 3-for-3 with two runs driven in and three runs scored. He hit his second homer, drew a walk and also stole his eighth base. You can read more on Swanson below in the Links and Notes section.

Early in the year, Tyler Ferguson looked like a possible first round pick. The righty from Vanderbilt was rated as high as 24th by one source prior to the beginning of the season. His control has been horrible this year, which has pushed him to a mid-week pitcher that can barely get through an inning. On Wednesday, he started and pitched one inning, working into the second without recording an out. Ferguson walked five batters before he was removed and threw a total of 44 pitches. In 4.1 innings over two starts and three relief appearances, he has walked 19 batters this season. Last year, he had 30 walks in 77 innings.

Left fielder Christin Stewart from Tennessee is someone we have been following closer lately. His team has had a tough time with the schedule, having eight games either canceled or postponed. Stewart went 1-for-3 against East Tennessee State on Tuesday, hitting his third homer and drawing a walk. On Wednesday against Morehead State, he went 1-for-3 with a walk and HBP.

Wednesday’s Tennessee game was started by Zach Warren, who was making his college debut. He was drafted by the Pirates in the 23rd round in the 2014 draft. Warren went 3.2 innings, giving up four earned runs on three hits, two walks and a hit batter. He allowed a home run and a double, while striking out one batter. Warren threw 63 pitches, 36 for strikes.

We had a look at Texas shortstop C.J. Hinojosa on Monday after he was rated 18th overall among all college juniors. Hinojosa went 0-for-4 on Tuesday against UIW, which dropped him down to .200/.333/.250 through 17 games. His glove/position got him rated high, but he is going to have to hit to remain a first round possibility.

We also took a look at prep outfielder Kyle Tucker a few weeks ago when he was one of the first top-ranked high school players to see action this season. He homered on Tuesday night and drove home a second run on a sacrifice fly in his team’s 2-0 victory. Through seven games, he is hitting .471, with three homers and a 1.654 OPS.

Right-handed prep pitcher Joe Demers threw a perfect game on Tuesday. The link includes video, though it obviously wasn’t from Tuesday as you can see runners on base. He was throwing low-90’s and struck out seven batters. He was rated as high as 28th in pre-season rankings of this draft class and was listed among the “others to watch” in our prep pitcher draft preview.

Links and Notes

**Perfect Game recaps the weekend action from Vanderbilt’s shortstop Dansby Swanson and starting pitcher Carson Fulmer. There is a video for Swanson as well. Also included is a recap of the start from UCLA’s James Kaprielian, plus plenty of notes from around college.

**Baseball America has the stats from week four of the college season, plus the take a look at Cal Poly second baseman Mark Mathias, who has a strong bat, but a questionable glove. Mathias is recovering from surgery on his arm and hasn’t played in the field yet this year.

**Also from Baseball America, their Three Strike article, which is actually three articles in one. The main one focuses on Vanderbilt’s Walker Buehler and his successful return to action. I’ve included a video of Buehler’s weekend below courtesy of The Prospect Pipeline.

**Minor League Ball takes a look at the start of Michael Matuella, with an in-person report from Jesse Burkhart. Matuella is still on a limited pitch count as he works his way back from a strained forearm.

  • Are you guys looking at HS players in any detail? There are a couple of very highly thought of HS shortstops in Florida – (Hagerty HS in Winter Springs – physically a Cole Tucker clone but a RH batter) and Jonathan India (American Heritage HS in Coral Springs who is shorter and stockier).

  • I love Swanson! Don’t think he will be around for Pirates though.

    • Right now I’m saying he won’t, but for the time being, we are still following him because it is early in the season. At this point, they would probably need some type of injury for him to drop off that much in the draft rankings. Either that or his bat would have to disappear and teams would have to think he couldn’t stick at SS.

  • Didn’t the Pirates draft Buehler, but he decided to go to Vanderbilt?

    • He was in 2012. He wanted about $1M to sign. I’m not 100% sure they would have signed him for that much if they could, but due to the draft bonus cap, they couldn’t offer him anywhere near that much without giving up future draft picks

  • I would steer clear of Martin…if he cannot hit in college, what kind of hitter could he ever hope to be in MLB?

    • *coughJACOBYJONEScough*

      • I don’t see much of a comparison between the two – other then they both played college baseball in the SEC. Two completely different athletes and hitters. I would never consider Martin the type of guy to hit 25-30 HRs at any level.

        Not to mention, Jones wasn’t a first round pick – which is what I suggested the Pirates steer clear of drafting Martin in the first round.

        • The two are really nothing alike, but Martin could drop like Jones. There was talk of Jones being a future first round pick before his junior year of HS and every year after that up to the middle of his junior year at LSU. Basically for five years, he was a well-known commodity in amateur baseball. Martin was good in HS, but nowhere near a first round possibility.
          I think Martin’s ability to stay at SS, his speed and his plate patience/contact skills will keep him in the first round because he is a safer pick than most.

          • And why did Jacoby Jones drop?

            Because he couldn’t hit college pitching. Which is literally the question Edwards asked.

        • If Martin can stick at short with at least decent defense, as most think he can, then simply being a league-average hitter makes him at least a 2 win player.

          That’s a player you’re happy to get in the draft, any year.

          • I guess it depends on what is defined as “league average hitter” for a shortstop? If he is going to be nothing more than a .220 to.230 hitter (or worse), I would not have wanted to have spent a first round pick on him. If the team is comfortable that he could hit .250 and up on a consistent basis, that’s a different story. Lets see how he does the remainder of the season. So far, he appears to be a good field/no hit shortstop. I think we already have a couple of those.

    • He will likely never hit for any power, but he could get on base at a decent clip, steal some bases and be average at SS. Probably not what you want at #19, but maybe with that #32 pick. He will have to hit more to go top 20. He can’t go 2-for-10 against a school like Fairfield(no offense to all the Fairfield alum that read this)

      • Considering we drafted Tucker last year, combined with Martin’s obvious hitting challenges, I wouldn’t take him at 32 either. He looks to have less hitting potential than Ngoepe, and that is still the ongoing criticism of Ngoepe.

        • He makes much better contact than Ngoepe, who strikes out 26% of the time over his career and is getting worse the higher he goes.

      • He’ll likely never hit for any power *with his current swing*.

        He’s got enough bat speed to at least pound the gaps with a little added loft to his swing.

  • Love the Buehler video. Little bit reminiscent of a young Timmy Lincecum with slight build, massive torque and arm speed combo.