On Saturday morning, we usually take a look at some of the best college starters that are draft-eligible this year. It’s a group that is getting smaller to cover due to two pitchers going down with Tommy John surgery. With weather issues, some teams not starting their week until Saturday, and the injured pitchers, it was an unusually light Friday. 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.
Dillon Tate from UC Santa Barbara has probably already done enough this season to guarantee he will go in the top ten picks. Kendall Rogers had some strong reports from his start of Thursday night, as Tate was throwing 96 MPH early and still hitting 93-94 late in his outing. Rogers called his mid-80’s slider “devastating” and said he was the complete package. Tate threw a complete game against Fresno State, allowing one run on six hits and a walk, while striking out eight batters.
UCLA’s James Kaprielian also made his start of Thursday and he had a solid outing against a strong Oregon State team. He went 5.2 innings, allowing two runs(both unearned) on five hits, three walks and a hit batter. Kaprielian struck out nine batters. He has a 2.09 ERA in eight starts, with a .222 BAA and 64 strikeouts in 51.2 innings.
Vanderbilt’s Carson Fulmer had a tough outing against Georgia, giving up five runs on nine hits, two walks and a hit batter over six innings. In his first seven starts he had a 1.50 ERA in 42 innings, allowing a total of seven earned runs. Fulmer came into the game with 60 strikeouts and picked up another seven on Friday. Vandy shortstop Dansby Swanson likely cemented his draft spot in the top ten. He went 3-for-3 with two doubles, a single, a stolen base, a walk and he reached on a HBP. Swanson is 11-for-12 in stolen bases and he has 19 extra-base hits to go along with his .385 average.
Phil Bickford went just four innings on Friday afternoon, but he looked strong. He struck out the side in both the first and second innings. Bickford had a high pitch count(73), though he didn’t allow a run, giving up two hits and a walk. He has made ten starts for Southern Nevada and has 96 strikeouts in 52 innings. Bickford has done an excellent job keeping runners off the bases, holding batters to a .159 average and issuing 14 walks.
The Pepperdine/Pacific game had an interesting match-up, pitting 2012 Pirates draft pick Jackson McClelland against Pacific outfielder Gio Brusa, who is one of the top college bats this year. McClelland went six innings in the win, allowing four runs(three earned) on three hits and four walks, with five strikeouts. Brusa finished the game 1-for-4 with a single. He struck out, grounded into a fielder’s choice and grounded out to second base in three at-bats against McClelland.
Links and Notes
**Prep pitcher Donny Everett out of Tennessee had 15 strikeouts in his start this week and there were unconfirmed accounts from the game that he hit 100 MPH. He is a big, strong kid, who was covered in our prep pitcher preview. He was touching 96 last year, so the reports could very likely be true. Everett was ranked #31 by MLB during their preseason draft rankings.
**Dan Kirby from Through The Fence Baseball has his list of ten college players on the rise. Most of them have been covered here extensively, but he does have two interesting pitchers of note that have not been mentioned. Kevin Duchene is a lefty for Illinois that is putting up nice numbers in a starting role, while Justin Jacome is a southpaw from UC Santa Barbara with great size(6’6″, 230 pounds) and strong stats, to go along with a low-90’s fastball and he has room to add velocity.
**Kirby also had a tweet about prep outfielder Daz Cameron, the son of long-time Major League outfielder Mike Cameron. Daz is hitting .667 in his last seven games, with ten extra-base hits. We covered the younger Cameron(with video) in our draft preview and it looks like he is living up to the early hype.
**We end with a brief video by Nathan Rode, showing the easy power on this home run from high school outfielder Kyle Tucker. You can read more about Tucker in the draft preview linked just above in the Cameron news.
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.