So far, all the talk around the 2014 Draft has swarmed around Carlos Rodon and the overall depth of this draft class. One of those areas of extreme depth is the college pitching group. Consequently, that dominated this weeks discussion.
I'm assuming no one caught the Friday night VMI-Lafayette matchup? VMI's junior righty, Reed Garrett, was disgustingly good, throwing the first no-hitter of the year, striking out thirteen batters and walking just one over nine shutout innings. 8 GO/6 FO. Maybe the most impressive part was that he only went to a three-ball count against three batters (one of whom, obviously, he walked.) Sophomore Campbell Lipe drew Lafayette's only walk in the fifth inning, breaking up the perfect game.Meanwhile, Rodon struck out eight over nine innings, walking just two and allowing five hits and five runs (three earned) to hang on to the win in a tight 6-5 game against Appalachian State. 8 GO/6 FO. 108 pitches.LSU just abused Toledo in their Saturday-night game, 15-1 (which included an eight-run fifth inning that lasted over thirty minutes.) Aaron Nola's Friday-night start wasn't quite to that level of offensive support, but I suspect he was happy with the nine runs his team gave him, particularly since he didn't allow any of his own. He didn't allow a hit through his seven innings (87 pitches), striking out eight and walking just one. His coach, Paul Mainieri, pulled him rather than extend his pitch count so early in the season ("We've got a long, challenging regular-season ahead of us, and we need a healthy Aaron Nola leading us throughout the year.") Which is refreshing from a college coach.Next stop, Tyler Beede, who struck out a career-high eleven batters over six innings (85 pitches) against Illinois-Chicago, walking one, allowing one hit and one run (a home run to Ty Detmer... not the Heisman winner.) Vandy cruised to a 14-1 victory, and Beede improved to 2-0 on the season.
Great stuff.Garrett has very average stuff, but if he can show the type of control he showed this weekend, he may be worth looking at in the middle rounds. There are some mechanical things that could be done that could potentially help bring his 88-91 MPH velocity up, but that's never a guarantee. He's a BoR ceiling type.Rodon's line was obviously great, and is quite impressive given the reports of losing his stuff in the middle innings for a little while. He velocity dropped to 90-91 and the slider just wasn't that sharp. For him to regain it and have that kind of outing says a lot, despite the lesser competition.Tyler Beede is continuing to show improved control this year which is really exciting. I don't think he can raise his stock higher than Rodon's, but I really like his stuff and with a really good season, could be a top 5 guy without a doubt.There is so much good college pitching this year.On the other side though is Brandon Downes. He's a potential above-average defensive center fielder and he hit TWO solo shots off of potential top 5 pick, Jeff Hoffman. That's no easy feat. He has power potential and he's already starting to show more this year and will probably beat his 10 HR mark last season. He has above average speed but doesn't have a great first step which limits him some coming out of the box.
Oh... and lest I forget to mention Mike Papi, who's quickly becoming my favorite college hitter of the past three or four years. He had a homer in the midweek game against William & Mary on Wednesday, and followed that up by going 4-for-12 with two doubles (one off of Jeff Hoffman) and two walks (against just one strikeout) this weekend against East Carolina... and he batted leadoff in the Sunday game.
Virginia's outfield is pretty insane isn't it? Derek Fisher is the consensus #1 college OF in the nation, then there's Papi and Brandon Downes, who is really intriguing and could start to jump on draft boards. He had 2 HRs off of Jeff Hoffman on Friday.
That whole offense is really loaded. Their team slash line is .300/.383/.432... those three together (Papi, Downes, and Fisher) are slashing .361/.436/.602 combined.
I caught the Saturday and Sunday games of Texas' series against Stanford this past weekend. Texas took 2 of the 3 games and is 5-3 on the season.Dillon Peters started for Texas on Saturday. He's a small lefty (5'11'') but he's had some exposure as he pitched in the Cape Cod League last summer. He's made two pretty solid starts this season (went 7 innings, 2 runs, 2 K's, 1 walk on Saturday) and had a 7:1 K/BB ratio in the Cape over the summer. He doesn't seem to have a ton of upside, but his velocity has reportedly increased. I think he was sitting 90-93 on Saturday, which is pretty nice for a lefty his size. Peters is probably in the 3rd round range right now and I could see him moving fast through a system and contributing as a back-end starter or long-relief man.Stanford's third baseman, Alex Blandino, is a guy I wanted to watch this weekend and he did not disappoint. Blandino went 6 for 11 over the weekend with a double and a homer among his six hits. He got around on the ball really quickly on those two hits; both were pulled into left-center and as he showed off some nice bat speed. There's not a lot of depth among college infielders this year, so Blandino could separate himself with a solid year at the plate. He plays third now, but his size could allow him to be more versatile and move to second base, which could also happen if he doesn't have enough power for third.Mark Payton is Texas' centerfielder and what he's done with the bat through eight games has been extraordinary. He's currently slashing .613/.676/.935 with six walks and one strikeout. Yeah, he's not going to have numbers like this for too much longer, but he hit .393 last year and .322 his sophomore so he knows how to hit the baseball. He's a small guy but has a bit of speed too. Payton turned down a contract after he was drafted in the 16th round last year from Cleveland, and he could certainly shoot up into the top 10 round in June if he has another solid season.
I can give my weekly South Carolina report:
Grayson Greiner was 3-11 with another home run.
Joey Pankake was also 3-11. Carolina has a 51 scoreless innings streak going.
I got a late-night text last week asking me if I knew Dylan Cease yet. He's a righty, converted from middle infield, out of Milton (Ga.) High School. He's a Vandy commit, but he's probably going to go in the first two rounds, so the Commodores will have to find someone else. My contact told me he was clocking Cease at 97mph with excellent life into the seventh inning.Then, today, I saw this report come out on PG (http://www.perfectgame.org/
Articles/View.aspx?article= 9465):Overall, Cease’s combination of sustainable mid-90s velocity, ideal downhill plane and outstanding hard running life make his fastball one of the top such pitches in the hard throwing 2014 high school class. Tyler Kolek throws harder but doesn’t have nearly the same type of life. Grant Holmes can match Cease’s velocity numbers and flash plus life but doesn’t have the plane to his pitches that Cease does. Touki Toussaint can match the plane and the life but does not stay as consistent with the velocity yet.His changeup - usually the problem with high schoolers - is actually pretty decent. An out pitch in the 80-82 range. The problem, surprisingly, is his curveball, which comes in around 75-76. That's all according to PG.I asked my contact about the curveball, and he said when it was on, it falls off the table and becomes an excellent swing-and-miss pitch. The problem, he said, is that it's only "on" about a third of the time. The thing is, he keeps throwing it. Which is good. If he can develop a feel for it, or find a pitching coach who can work with him on it, he could fly up draft boards.
That's a pretty big drop in MPH. Going 95-97 to a 75-76 reminds me of Oswalt a little.
Just to pile on... we can't really go without mentioning A.J. Reed's FIVE HOME RUN PERFORMANCE in a three-game set this weekend. He started the weekend off by becoming the first Kentucky hitter to ever homer twice in the same inning when he hit a two-run shot and a grand slam in the fifth inning in a 16-2 win over St. Joseph's, and then followed it up with a game-tying homer on Saturday against Old Dominion, and then two more on Sunday's game against St. John's.
Were there any games that any of you were able to catch? Any performances that stood out to you? What do you think of these guys that we discussed?