Today we take a look at a few weekend recaps from college ball. If you missed it from Saturday, I had observations from two of the better pitchers and one of the better hitters in the prep ranks. The Pittsburgh Pirates own the 22nd and 41st picks this year. The draft begins on June 9th and lasts three days, with the first two rounds selected on day one. You can view our draft preview here, which covers many of the names who fall in the Pirates’ range. It also focuses in on players who fit the recent draft strategy of the Pirates.
We start of the weekend recap with Oklahoma right-hander Alec Hansen, who I didn’t think we would be talking about at this point because he was rated so high coming into the season. Hansen stands 6’7″, 235 pounds, and sits high 90’s with his fastball, complementing it with a slider that can be devastating at times. His problem has been command and he hasn’t shown any improvements in that area. This week against Texas Tech, he couldn’t even get out of the first inning, giving up four runs on three hits and three walks, before being pulled with two outs. Hansen has huge upside, but we are also talking about someone who has gone just 20 innings over six starts, walking 18 batters, while posting a 7.65 ERA. The size, stuff and 28 strikeouts are all intriguing, but teams might soon consider him too much of a risk to draft high.
Next up is Georgia right-handed pitcher Robert Tyler, who has recently been ranked #22 twice in draft rankings, matching him up to the first pick of the Pirates. He was coming off a game in which he walked seven batters against Kentucky. On Friday night against Mississippi State, the control was still poor, but the results were great. He threw six no-hit shutout innings, walking six and striking out six batters. Tyler has a .153 BAA and 45 strikeouts in 32.1 innings. He has given up 17 walks, though 13 are from his last two starts. You can read a scouting report on him here.
In that same Mississippi State/George series, Dakota Hudson continued to impress, going from someone who seemed like a possibility for the Pirates’ first pick, up to a likely top ten pick at this point. Things can obviously still change with 73 days left until the draft starts, but I wouldn’t count on Hudson being around when the Pirates pick. He allowed one unearned run over seven innings against Georgia. He has a 1.13 ERA, 45 strikeouts and a .196 BAA in 39.2 innings this season.
Stanford pitcher Cal Quantrill is still rated as a mid-to-late first round pick this year, despite being out a year and one week now due to Tommy John surgery. He has been throwing bullpens and hopes to face live hitters soon, with the idea that he could start pitching in games in about a month if all goes well. When healthy, the 6’3″ righty touches 96 MPH with his fastball and in a start right before he was injured, he showed excellent command of a low-80’s slider, with a change-up that looked at least average.
Outfielder Nick Banks from Texas A&M started this season off slow and had an injury that cost him a week. That has dropped him in the rankings recently. In a three-game series against LSU this weekend, he went 0-for-8 with a walk and five strikeouts in the first two games, then went 2-for-3 with his first homer on Saturday. Banks also had a double and a triple during a mid-week game against lesser competition. He is hitting .304/.368/.536 in 18 games.
In that same series against Texas A&M, LSU center fielder Jake Fraley went 2-for-4 on Thursday, collecting a triple and a steal. He went a combined 1-for-8 with a walk in the other two games. Fraley was mentioned in our draft preview(linked up top) as a player who was a possibility for either of the first two Pirates’ picks coming into the season. He’s a high OBP player, with above average speed and defense. He is hitting .355/.450/.516 in 23 games, with 14 steals and a 15:9 BB/SO ratio.
In the Virginia/Louisville match-up from Thursday, Connor Jones from Virginia, faced Kyle Funkhouser from Louisville. Earlier in the year this seemed like an intriguing game, but Jones has established himself(for now) as a possibly top ten pick, while Funkhouser has seen his stock plummet. Jones went seven inning, giving up two earned runs on five hits, three walks, and four strikeouts. It wasn’t his best game, but didn’t hurt his stock. Funkhouser went 6.1 innings and allowed five runs on seven hits, four walks, and five strikeouts.
Keith Law had an interesting article about Jones(subscription required), highlighting his lack of a true plus pitch, as well as the poor history of UVA pitchers in the big leagues. I’m not sure if you can make a generalized statement about pitchers from the same college, but he may have a point with the stuff that Jones displays. While he doesn’t have any true plus pitches, he’s solid 50/55 grades across the board with all of his offerings and his command. He’s the type of pitcher who could move quickly through the system and give you a solid mid-rotation starter in the majors. It will be interesting to see if teams stay away from him early on despite being a polished pitcher already.
Vaanderbilt has two players to watch, with outfielder Bryan Reynolds and pitcher Jordan Sheffield. On Friday, Sheffield had a rough night, but Reynolds helped bail him out with a two-run homer early and another RBI later. Sheffield allowed six runs on four hits and five walks in six innings. Reynolds went 1-for-5 on Saturday, striking out three times. On Sunday, he drove in a total of five runs on a pair of homers, giving him six home runs this season. Sheffield now has a 2.21 ERA through six starts, with 51 strikeouts and a .204 BAA in 36.2 innings.
In Kentucky on Friday, Florida’s Logan Shore took on Kentucky’s Zack Brown in a match-up that involved a likely first round pick(Shore) versus a likely second round pick. Shore won this battle easily, though he had some issues. In five innings, he allowed four runs on four hits and two walks, with six strikeouts. Brown had a tough game, giving up five runs on four hits and six walks in 3.2 innings. He had three strikeouts and needed 81 pitches to get through his abbreviated outing.
I’ve included videos below of both pitchers, courtesy of Prospect Junkies. First up, Shore
Next up, Brown…
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.