We usually save our draft updates for Monday morning, but I decided to add an extra one this week for the elite pitcher/hitter match-up on Friday night. So here’s a recap of the mid-week games, along with a note on a 2022 draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
LSU and Ole Miss start a weekend series on Friday night. LSU right-handed pitcher Paul Skenes is the top pitcher in this draft class right now for most people. Ole Miss shortstop Jacob Gonzalez is one of the top eight prospects we have been following all year. I’ve seen him rated as high as third early on, and as high as fifth in the class more recently.
It appears that the game will be shown at 7:30 PM on the SEC Network. Check your local listings.
Kiley McDaniel just posted a new video of Skenes on Twitter
Saw LSU's Paul Skenes last week in a lightning-shortened 3 IP outing. Faced 12 batters, struck out 8, walked 0, gave up 2 HR.
4SM was 98-101, threw a lively two-seam w/CH action at 96, SL was a 70-grade pitch (only got it slo-mo w/hitter in the way), 50-55 CB & CH used lightly. pic.twitter.com/R2IOOpHmca
— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) April 20, 2023
Before I get into the mid-week recaps for our top players, a note on an unsigned 2022 Pirates draft pick. Yoel Tejeda started for Florida and picked up his first win. He went four innings against Florida A&M, finishing with two runs on three hits, two walks and a strikeout.
The Pirates were unable to sign 6’8″ right-hander away from his commitment to Florida. He has a 5.60 ERA in 17.2 innings over five starts and a relief appearance, doing his work in the mid-week games.
Here are the mid-week recaps, which I wasn’t going to post until I saw the big match-up this week. They aren’t pretty for the top prospects against lesser schools for the most part.
Jacob Gonzalez went 0-for-4 with a walk against Arkansas State on Tuesday. He’s hitting .338/.469/.603 in 37 games, with 15 doubles, seven homers and 30 walks.
Dylan Crews went 0-for-2 with three walks in a shocking LSU loss to Louisiana Lafayette on Tuesday. Crew will obviously be part of that Skenes/Gonzalez match-up, in case you need another reason to follow. Crews is hitting .491/.647/.828 in 36 games.
Wyatt Langford played part of that game against Florida A&M mentioned above. He left the one-sided contest after going 2-for-2 with a double and a walk. He’s hitting .389/.546/.796 in 31 games.
Jacob Wilson had an unusually rough mid-week, though his opponents for a Tuesday/Wednesday two-game set was Texas Tech. He went 0-for-7 with two walks in those games. He’s hitting .441/.493/.653 in 31 games, with five strikeouts in 138 plate appearances.
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.
Kiley has an article up on ESPN discussing drafting pitchers high and comparing Skenes to recent arms. I won’t give too much away, but he looks at the past 20 drafts and there’s largely a consensus that the 1-2-3 order (Strasburg, Cole, Price). And he puts Skenes at the Price level, or thereabouts.
I haven’t watched enough of Skenes live to get a great opinion on him (only seeing highlights doesn’t paint the full picture), but it really feels like college baseball in general is slipping as far as talent (same thing for the lower level of the minors), so it’s harder to trust stats. The stuff is obviously there, but he also has a shorter track record than most at his point. It feels very optimistic to put him in that same group, though saying something like “the David Price of the launch angle generation” is fitting.
He very well could be there, I just think elite college teams are starting to slip into the HS category of where stats really don’t matter. Crews would be a god if his batting average only dropped 150 points once he hit the minors.
I actually wonder if the college talent is pretty good right now, simply because lots of juniors this year are players who likely got squeezed by the COVID draft in 2020. But that’s also an anomaly and diminishes after this season. Do you think maybe college talent isn’t slipping as much as the good players are even more concentrated in the top programs? LSU is 20-2 against their non-conference opponents, many of those blowouts. LSU got to fatten up on low quality non-conference teams, so now it may be a bit easier to get a read on them with the conference games.
As Price/Skenes, you’re actually dead on with what you said. McDaniel put Skenes at Price’s level if he continues to deal as he has, simply because we’re only looking at two months of great results. The track record is much shorter for him.
Man do I love those slo-mo clips.
Has anyone expressed concerns about Skenes’ fastball shape? Looks like the spin axis on his 4seamer is awfully east-west.