We wrap up the weekend action with a look at some of the top college hitters, after taking a look at some of the top college pitchers in this draft class on Saturday. 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.
Last week, we mentioned that outfielder Nick Banks from Texas A&M was a player who rated a little too high when we did our draft preview, so we didn’t mention him. That was before three minors things happened and made him a player to watch for now. He had a poor first weekend, he missed the second week with back soreness and the Pirates moved up two spots in the draft order after the Orioles and Rangers surrendered their first round picks to sign Yovani Gallardo and Ian Desmond, respectively. Banks returned to action this weekend against Yale and doubled in his first at-bat. He went 4-for-13 in the series, with three singles and a double. His team scored 35 runs, so he really didn’t do much compared to his teammates. Still, he was back in the field and a couple good weeks will probably cement his spot in the top ten, maybe 10-15 range.
Third baseman Nick Senzel from Tennessee had a nice game over the weekend against East Carolina. He went 3-for-4 with a double and two stolen bases. That gave him six doubles and five steals early in the campaign. The Tennessee starter was Zach Warren, who was drafted in the 23rd round by the Pirates in 2014. He picked up his third win in three starts, allowing two runs over 6.2 innings, striking out seven batters. Through ten games, Senzel is hitting .425/.531/.575, with 17 runs and 17 RBIs.
Ole Miss shortstop Errol Robinson has got off to a slow start this year. He’s interesting to watch because he’s an athletic shortstop, with plus defense, speed and the ability to get on base. That last part hasn’t showed up yet this season. He went 3-for-16 this weekend, leaving him with a .205/.326/.308 slash line through ten games. Ole Miss continues batting him in the lead-off spot at this point because it’s still very early in the season. He is ninth on his team in OPS. Robinson has also committed three errors already and he has just one stolen base.
Nebraska center fielder Ryan Boldt had three hits during Friday’s 9-2 win. That was the highlight of his weekend, as he went 1-for-10 the rest of the week. He is hitting .268/.347/.390 through nine games.
LSU’s Jake Fraley went 5-for-11 this weekend against Fordham, hitting a home run on Saturday in the first game of a doubleheader, and collecting three stolen bases in the second game. The weekend stats come with the caveat that LSU put up 37 runs in the three-game series. Fraley is hitting .372/.491/.605 through nine games, with a 10:4 BB/SO ratio and seven stolen bases.
In their pre-season list of the top 300 college prospect, D1 Baseball had Miami catcher Zack Collins listed as the top backstop in this college class. Early on, he has been the best hitter on his team. Through 11 games, he has a .433/.614/.733 slash line, with a 13:6 BB/SO ratio and three homers. His team has connected on just four homers all season. Collins is a powerful lefty bat, with a strong arm. His problem is that he might not be able to stay behind the plate defensively, which would make him a first baseman due to below average speed. The bat might be good enough that a team will take a chance on him and draft him early.
On to the pitching side for a few notes. Starting with Kyle Cody from Kentucky. He was someone we followed last year because multiple sources were ranking him between the Pirates’ first two draft picks(19th and 32nd overall). Cody ended up slipping down the rankings and then passed up on signing as the 72nd overall pick to go back to school for his senior year. Yesterday, he allowed eight earned runs over just two innings, surrendering seven hits and three walks. Even worse is that he allowed those runs to a Buffalo team that scored only four runs over 25 innings the rest of the weekend. Despite solid stuff, Cody will need to turn things around immediately for his return to school to pay off.
Oregon’s Matt Krook had a terrific outing on Saturday, throwing six no-hit innings. He allowed two walks and struck out 12 batters. Krook has a 1.59 ERA through three starts, with 26 strikeouts and just six hits allowed in 17 innings. The only downside is ten walks, but the rest of his stats look great.
You can read more on Krook and most of the hitters listed above in our draft preview linked at the top. Beginning next month, every Thursday we will post our player previews, going in depth on a new player each week, looking for players who are ranked near the Pirates first pick. Early on, I’ll probably lean towards players who rank in the 25-30 range, so they are options for the 41st overall pick as well. When we start getting mock drafts, then I’ll cover the player mentioned for the Pirates’ pick(s).