In absolutely no particular order, 2011 draft prospects that finished last season with over 10 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched, minimum 50 total innings pitched. For reference’s sake, prospects expected to go in the top three rounds are in bold…
Kentucky JR RHP Alex Meyer
Missouri State JR RHP Dan Kickham
Cal State Fullerton JR RHP Noe Ramirez
Virginia SR RHP Tyler Wilson
Maryland SR RHP Brett Harman
Vanderbilt JR RHP Sonny Gray
Texas A&M JR RHP John Stilson
Texas JR RHP Taylor Jungmann
Baylor JR RHP Logan Verrett
UCLA JR RHP Gerrit Cole
UCLA JR RHP Trevor Bauer
Washington JR RHP Andrew Kittredge
Georgia Tech JR LHP Jed Bradley
Virginia JR LHP/1B Danny Hultzen
Mississippi JR LHP Matt Crouse
Stanford JR LHP Brett Mooneyham
Arizona State JR LHP Mitchell Lambson
TCU SO LHP Matt Purke
Northeastern JR LHP Andrew Leenhouts
Southern Cal JR RHP Austin Wood (2011): 5 IP 6 H 2 ER 1 BB 6 K
LSU FR RHP Kevin Gausman (2012): 5.2 IP 6 H 2 ER 0 BB 6 K
Georgia Tech FR RHP DeAndre Smelter (2013): 1.1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K
San Diego FR RHP Dylan Covey (2013): 7 IP 7 H 4 ER 2 BB 7 K
UCLA FR RHP Adam Plutko (2013): 6 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 4 K
Florida FR RHP Karsten Whitson (2013): 5 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 9 K
- Six really successful major college debuts for six outstanding prospects. It is a little funny to me that the most college ready freshman, Dylan Covey, had the least successful of the freshman quintet. Gausman, Smelter, and Whitson are similar in the way each can dial up mid-90s fastballs to pair with their potential plus power breaking balls (curve for Gausman, sliders for Smelter and Whitson). In any other year Austin Wood would be getting all kinds of high first round buzz; as is, he’s lost in the shuffle of the many more established 2011 college pitching stars.
South Carolina JR LHP Bryan Harper (2011): 1.2 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 2 K
Troy JR LHP Garrett McHenry (2011): 3.2 IP 0 H 0 ER 1 BB 3 K (6/1 GO/AO)
- Wood’s debut may have been the biggest of any junior transfer prospect, but it only seems right to turn the spotlight on the first major college game pitched by Bryan Harper, Bryce’s older brother and former teammate. After all the Bryce Hype of 2010, let the Year of Bryan begin! McHenry also made his debut and, while I can’t pretend to know much about him as a prospect, his debut really impressed me. What can I say, I’m a sucker for multi-inning saves…
TCU JR RHP Kyle Winkler (2011): 7 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 8 K
UCLA JR RHP Trevor Bauer (2011): 7.2 IP 2 H 0 ER 4 BB 10 K
- It is unbelievable to me that these two are number two starters on their college teams. Easy prediction that has already begun to come to fruition: Trevor Bauer will be one of 2011’s most divisive draft prospects.
Liberty SO RHP Blake Forslund (2011): 4 IP 6 H 5 ER 4 BB 5 K
Arizona JR RHP Kyle Simon (2011): 7.2 IP 1 H 1 ER 0 BB 13 K
Arizona SO RHP Kurt Heyer (2012): 7 IP 5 H 0 ER 2 BB 8 K
- Simon’s sinker, slider, splitter repertoire must have been really working for him…
Wichita State JR LHP Charlie Lowell (2011): 5 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 7 K
Oklahoma State SO LHP Andrew Heaney (2012): 7 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 8 K
- Lowell, like Austin Wood, is another prospect that would get a lot more love in a less stacked draft class. Another lefty with plus velocity? Yawn…
Clemson SO RHP Kevin Brady (2011): 5.1 IP 2 H 1 ER 1 BB 10 K
Mississippi JR RHP David Goforth (2011): 7 IP 5 H 0 ER 1 BB 5 K
Oregon JR RHP Madison Boer (2011): 8 IP 1 H 0 ER 2 BB 7 K
- For all the great 2011 college pitching available this June, there doesn’t appear to be a high number of high round reliever follows out there. I’ve never been good at predicting which college starting pitchers pro teams will prefer as relievers, but these three seem like prime candidates to make the move to the pen at some point. We’ll see…
South Florida SR LHP Andrew Barbosa (2011): 6 IP 6 H 1 ER 1 BB 5 K (against Florida)
Vanderbilt SR RHP Taylor Hill (2011): 7.1 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 8 K
UNC-Wilmington SR RHP Daniel Cropper: 7 IP 3 H 1 ER 1 BB 12 K
- On a good day, Hill has three above-average pitches. He’s Vanderbilt’s fifth best pitching prospect. Vanderbilt is really good. Great to see Cropper healthy and throwing so well…
Cal State Fullerton JR RHP Noe Ramirez (2011): 7 IP 6 H 1 ER 0 BB 5 K
Vanderbilt JR LHP Grayson Garvin (2011): 8.1 IP 5 H 2 ER 0 BB 10 K
Kentucky JR RHP Alex Meyer (2011): 7 IP 3 H 2 ER 3 BB 13 K
- Broken record alert! Any other year, these three are first round locks and Meyer would be considered as close to a top ten guarantee as possible. It isn’t outside the realm of possibility that a team like Washington, picking 6th overall and 1st in the supplemental first (34th overall) could walk away from the draft with two potential quick moving top of the rotation starting pitching prospects (Sonny Gray and Alex Meyer, for example)…
Texas A&M SO RHP Michael Wacha (2012): 6 IP 5 H 0 ER 0 BB 7 K
Texas SO LHP Hoby Milner (2012): 7 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 10 K
- Which 2012 pitching prospect from the great state of Texas do you prefer? The high velocity righthander? Or the lefty with the deeper all-around arsenal?
Cal State Fullerton SO RHP Dylan Floro (2012): 4.1 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 3 K (out of the bullpen…)
Arizona State JR LHP Kyle Ottoson (2011): 6 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 8 K (out of the bullpen…)
- 10.1 IP and no earned runs out of the bullpen? Have to love college baseball…
1. I am a long way away from actually finalizing my college pitching rankings, but I’m pretty much locked in on who will sit atop the list. As impressive as Texas Christian SO LHP Matt Purke (4 shutout innings) and Texas JR RHP Taylor Jungmann (9 IP 5 H 0 ER 1 BB 9 K, only 95 pitches) performed, UCLA JR RHP Gerrit Cole (9 IP 4 H 0 ER 1 BB 11 K) is the man. Better believe they’ll be more on him to come over the next few weeks.
2. Texas A&M JR RHP John Stilson was only omitted from the previous entry because he slipped my mind, but, really, the guy belongs in the top college arm discussion with the likes of Cole, Purke, Jungmann, et al. Perhaps it is for the best that the least well known major college pitcher gets his own space, so we can fully appreciate his sustained run of dominance. Stilson’s 2010 season (14 K/9) was the stuff of legend, and his transition to starting on Friday nights (6 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 9 K) has started with a bang. My favorite part of his Friday line: 18 outs recorded, 9 via strikeout, 9 via groundball, 0 fly balls. He’s a starter all the way for me, despite the sentiment that he is too much of a two-pitch thrower to get through the lineup multiple times. I’ve heard too many positive things about both his changeup and his slider to believe differently.
3. Washington State JR LHP Adam Conley opened some eyes by peaking at 95-96 MPH on Friday. My earliest notes on him have him sitting 86-88 with a peak between 90-92. Amazing what some time working with a great college staff can do for a kid. Credit should also be given to Conley (by all accounts a really hard worker), as well as the natural maturation that comes with growing into a sturdy 6-3, 185 pound frame (up 15 pounds from his freshman year).
4. The Cole Hamels’ clones just keep coming. It isn’t just Conley with the mid-90s heat and a plus changeup. Virginia JR LHP Danny Hultzen (check out his Friday night two-way line: 2-4, BB, 3 RBI and, more importantly, 6.2 IP 3 H 1 ER 1 BB 10 K) and Georgia Tech JR LHP Jed Bradley (he pitched Saturday, but I’m cheating to make a point…5.2 IP 4 H 1 ER 2 BB 10 K) both offer outstanding four-pitch arsenals that include that magic mid-90s fastball and plus change combo that I love. Heck, all three of these guys were big favorites before they bumped up their velocity because of the way they reminded me of Vanderbilt’s Mike Minor, one of my favorite draft prospects of the past few years. Here’s what I said about Minor on his draft day, by the way:
LOVE Mike Minor – good enough velocity, plus change, either the curve or the slider will be a plus pitch down the line (I think), great command, very good athlete, smooth delivery, repeatable mechanics, pitched at an outstanding program. This pick will get panned by everybody, but they are wrong – Minor is an absolute keeper. I had him at 18 on my big board, so maybe I’m full of it by saying he was a great pick at 7…but, factoring in signability, it’s a very good, very safe pick.
5. Hultzen may be the best junior two-way player in the land, but Florida SO LHP/1B Brian Johnson has to be tops of the sophomore class. His Friday looked very similar to Hultzen’s: (2-4, 2 2B, RBI, R and 6 IP 2 H 0 ER 0 BB 6 K. Bonus fact: Johnson faced the minimum number of batters in his 2011 debut. Hultzen is a pitcher all the way, but Johnson is seen as talented enough to go either way at this point.
6. Really happy to see Notre Dame SR RHP Brian Dupra healthy and pitching well (7 IP 7 H 2 ER 0 BB 5 K) once again. Dupra looked like a top five round lock heading into his junior year, but injury and ineffectiveness forced him into returning for his senior year in an attempt to reestablish his draft stock. I haven’t heard anything about his stuff on Friday, but if it reached pre-injury levels (mid-90s FB, hard cutter, good low-80s SL), then he could position himself as one of the top college power pitching prospects, as well as easily the most desirable college pitching senior sign.
7. Another interesting draft prospect and college senior, Oklahoma SR RHP Michael Rocha, put on a show this Friday: 7 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 7 K. Rocha doesn’t have near the velocity of Dupra at his best, but thrives on his funky breaking stuff, good command, and high pitching IQ. Rocha’s one-hit performance was matched by Alabama JR LHP Adam Morgan, who put up the following line: 5.1 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 6 K. Unlike the power fastball lefties mentioned above, Morgan instead follows in the footsteps of the more typical, pitchability style of crafty college lefties. The lack of a big fastball stings a little less when you have a plus curve, a pitch that I think ranks in the top ten of its type amongst 2011 college draft prospects.
8. The college pitching in Texas this year is Gottfried Leibniz level deep. Jungmann and Stilson may be the headliners, but fellow Lone Star ballers Texas State JR RHP Carson Smith and Baylor JR RHP Logan Verrett could wind up at the tail end of the first round with big springs. Their respective debuts (Smith: 2 IP 3 H 1 ER 0 BB 4 K; Verrett: 3 IP 6 H 4 ER 1 BB 3 K) weren’t as pretty as I’m sure they would have liked, but both continued to show the first round quality stuff they’ve grown famous for. Smith has the frame (6-5, 220) and a fastball to dream on, while Verrett potential for four above-average pitches is tantalizing.
9. Two of my favorite Conference USA prospects put up unique lines that deserve a little love. Check out the Friday line for Southern Miss SR RHP Todd McInnis: 8 IP 5 H 0 ER 0 BB 7 K. Very good line, right? What makes that performance truly exception, assuming there wasn’t a typo on the box score, is the following: he threw 45 pitches! Is that even possible? At least 21 pitches were thrown to get those 7 strikeouts. That leaves 24 pitches to get the 17 remaining outs. Incredible, if true. The line for Central Florida SR LHP Nick Cicio was impressive, if significantly less rare: 3 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 5 K. That’s an example of how a college lefty straight out of central casting (mid-80s fastball, good change, slurvy breaking pitch) can dominate out of the pen.
10. Think we could all agree that a line of [9 IP 5 H 0 ER 1 BB 8 K] would make for a darn fine outing by any starting pitcher. It also works as a pretty great combined line shared by two legit mid- to late-round 2011 draft prospects. In a performance reminiscent of peak years Legion of Doom, or, my sentimental personal favorite, The Natural Disasters, Wichita State SR RHP Tim Kelley (5 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 6 K) and SO LHP Brian Flynn (4 IP 2 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K) tag teamed to shut down the opposition on Friday night. Both pitchers profile best as middle relievers professionally, with Flynn getting more current buzz due to his readymade WWF size and strength (6-8, 240…so big I had to double check on the website to make sure I didn’t copy it wrong in my notes).
Bonus! Stanford SO RHP and potential 2012 top ten pick Mark Appel (5.2 IP 8 H 2 ER 1 BB 4 K) didn’t quite light the world on fire with his opening night line, but the velocity pickup in his stuff (FB now peaking in the upper-90s, SL now peaking mid-80s) had everybody taking notice. If he can integrate his changeup (plus potential there) more as the season goes on, he’ll head into 2012 on the short list of candidates to go in the top three. Back in February 2009 I had him as the 9th best prep righthander, sandwiched between Daniel Tuttle and Matt Graham. This was his quick writeup:
Appel’s strong verbal commitment to Stanford will drop him down draft boards, but he is a great athlete, with a wiry frame with room to fill out, an impressive hard slider, solid change, and the ability to play around with his fastball (mostly by cutting and sinking it). The Cardinal normally get their man, so Appel’s signability will be something to keep on eye on.