Today we have some highlights from the weekend in college ball. If you missed it from yesterday, we had some updates from the first few days of the week, covering some of the best players in the nation.
We mentioned yesterday that Dillon Tate returned to the mound after missing one week and the lat injury he suffered had no effect on his performance. Facing Hawaii late Friday night, he threw seven no-hit innings. He walked two batters and had six strikeouts. He draft stock obviously won’t take a hit from the injury and he should still go in the top five picks.
Florida shortstop Richie Martin went 1-for-4 on Friday against Kentucky. He hit is ninth double. On Saturday, Martin had an 0-for-5 night, as his team lost by a 7-6 score. His hitting has been better recently, but this weekend has not started off well.
Florida State left fielder D.J. Stewart went 1-for-6 with two walks, as FSU and Miami battled for 17 innings on Friday. FSU won 8-7 and Stewart drove home one run and scored once. On Saturday, he faced Andrew Suarez, who is sure to be drafted high this year, though his draft stock probably took a big hit this week. Stewart went 3-for-3, with a walk, stolen base and three runs scored. Suarez lasted 3.1 innings and that was only because his coach left him in too long. He allowed 12 runs(ten earned) on 11 hits and two walk. Just to show had bad this start was, Suarez came into the game with nine earned runs allowed in his first seven starts combined.
Most people believe Cincinnati outfielder Ian Happ will be off the board before the Pirates make their first selection with the 19th overall pick. He went 0-for-3 with two walks on Saturday against Tulane and started his weekend with an 0-for-2, two walk game. He has hit ten doubles and 11 homers this year.
Arizona’s double play combo of Kevin Newman(shortstop) and Scott Kingery will both likely go in the first round this year, with Newman possibly going very early on day one. They had a relatively quiet day in a 3-1 loss to California on Friday. Kingery had two singles and a sacrifice hit, while Newman added a single of his own. There was even less going on for them in a 4-0 loss on Saturday. They each had one single. Kingery is batting .430/.462/.640 this year, while Newman has a .367/.415/.476 slash line.
Arkansas center fielder Andrew Benintendi has got some recent first round mention and he’s moved up the draft charts as fast as anyone in the last couple weeks. On Friday against Mississippi State, he went 3-for-4 and stole his 20th base of the season. On Saturday, he walked twice, scored two runs and was hit by a pitch. Benintendi is hitting .377/.490/.728 this season.
Virginia’s Joe McCarthy took on North Carolina State on Friday and went 0-for-4, with a walk, RBI and run scored. He just recently returned from a back surgery that caused him to miss the first two months of the season. Virginia and NC State play a doubleheader on Sunday.
Phil Bickford from Southern Nevada picked up his eighth win on Saturday, with five shutout innings. He allowed just one hit, walked two and struck out nine batters. In 67 innings over 13 starts, he has a 1.48 ERA and a 17:126 BB/SO ratio. He has either been ranked within a few spots of the Pirates, or gone to the team in mock drafts, numerous times over the last month.
Tyler Jay from Illinois likely improved his already high draft stock on Saturday. In a relief role against Penn State, Jay threw 99 pitches over six innings. He gave up one run on six hits, a walk and he struck out seven batters. Jay has an 0.78 ERA this year and despite being a reliever, he has put in 46 innings now. He has 53 strikeouts against just four walks. Jay is holding batters to a .163 average. We haven’t talked much about him due to his relief status, but an outing like this could convince scouts that there is a chance he could be a starter in the pros.
**For ESPN Insiders, Keith Law recently got to see two high school right-handed pitchers that have been rated in the Pirates’ range recently. Donnie Everett touched 97 MPH(he’s hit 99 in the past) and he had 16 strikeouts, without issuing a walk, on Monday. Law also saw Pennsylvania’s Mike Nikorak, who hit 97 MPH and impressed Law with his added muscle since last year. The downside to his start was the lack of command on his curve and the lack of change-ups he threw, with Law tracking just one all outing. Both pitchers could go in the top 20, though it’s still possible they could be around when the Pirates pick.
**Jim Callis has his thoughts on the thin crop of catchers in this draft. He mentions that Tyler Stephenson has emerged as the best catcher in this class, with a nod to current catcher Chris Betts, who we have heard all year, that he likely won’t stay behind the plate. Stephenson has a strong arm, the defense to stay behind the plate and he could hit 20 homers in the pros.
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.
John: Still plenty of time before the draft, and we see some guys going up and down, but the Top 10 seem to be staying the same for the most part. IMO, Bickford is still the best available around No. 19, but I would not hesitate to draft Tyler Jay if he is on the Board when the Pirates pick. Watching our Closer, Mark Melancon, throw nothing above 88 last night in about 20 pitches tells me we may be forced to seek some quick depth at that position. Caminero had 10 Saves at AAA in 2014, and John Holdzkom may turn it around at AAA?
Suarez may fall to the point where we can pick him up at No. 32
I can’t imagine the Pirates using the 19th overall pick on someone they feel is a future reliever. If they pick Jay there, he will be used as a starter. The best way to improve your bullpen in the Majors is to get better starters