Today we take a look at action from early in the week, plus some draft news and notes below. 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.
Another top pitcher will undergo Tommy John surgery, as Duke’s Michael Matuella will join last year’s #1 overall pick, Brady Aiken. Matuella has had multiple injuries during his career, which has limited the amount of pitching he has done during his three seasons at Duke. He has the stuff to go first overall this year and some people were predicting he could be the first pick, but it will be interesting to see if any team at the top of the draft is willing to take a chance on him now due to the health risk and concerns. Aiken had his surgery last week and some believe he will still go fairly high since his health issues have been limited to this surgery.
Tuesday night in Tallahassee, FL had a match-up that included two top college bats, plus a former Pirates draft pick on the mound. FSU, with starting pitcher Bryant Holtmann and left fielder D.J. Stewart, took on shortstop Richie Martin and Florida. This same match-up took place two weeks ago and I watched the game and recapped the action here. In this game, Holtmann, who was drafted in the 37th round last year by the Pirates, went five innings, allowing one run on five hits and no walks, while striking out three batters.
Stewart went 1-for-2 and drove in two runs in the 8-3 win. He hit his fourth double of the season and also reached on a HBP. Stewart is hitting .281 through 30 games, with nine homers, 39 walks and a 1.114 OPS. Martin went 2-for-4 with two singles, including a bunt hit against Holtmann. Martin made his fourth error of the season in the game and was also caught stealing for the third time. He is hitting .304/.404/.429 in 30 games, with ten stolen bases.
Center fielder Ian Happ and Cincinnati have lost nine straight, including a 5-3 loss to Wright State on Tuesday. Happ drove in two runs, collecting two singles, while also striking out twice. Through 26 games, he is hitting .398 and coming into Tuesday’s game, he had the 17th highest slugging percentage in the nation.
One week ago, we mentioned San Diego shortstop Kyle Holder as a player making a move due to a 70 grade for his defense at a key position. He made his second error of the season on Tuesday and went 0-for-3, so it was a tough game for him. That game followed a terrific weekend for Holder, who went 7-for-10, with four walks against BYU. He is hitting .378/.450/.469 through 26 games.
News and Notes
**Wilson Karaman from Minor League Ball has a great, in-depth write-up of the last start from Cal Poly Pomona right-hander Cody Ponce. It also includes a video from the start. Terrific detail in this article about a pitcher the Pirates could be very interested in drafting.
**Nathan Rode has a recap of a game from prep outfielder Kyle Tucker, who was covered in our draft preview of prep hitters. There is video of Tucker as well, plus reports on multiple other players from Florida of note.
**In our prep pitcher preview, we mentioned righty Chandler Day among the other “players to watch” in this draft class. Day made his debut on Monday and was sitting 87-90 MPH with his fastball and his control was off. That is down from the 90-93 MPH range that MLB.com had for him in their draft preview. Day went six innings, and gave up three hits, three walks and he hit three batters, while picking up six strikeouts.
**Infielder Paul DeJong from Illinois State is an interesting player to watch because the Pirates took him in the 38th round and they made a run at signing him. He has ten homers this season and is hitting .427/.508/.806 through 25 games. He is sure to go much higher this year in the draft.
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.