Editor’s Note: Every Monday through the draft we will have a Full Count Trends piece running here on SCOUT. Every weekend I will look at three players who had a strong weekend and two who had a down week or had their draft stock impacted by something negative (health or otherwise). I am looking at a full count from the hitter's perceptive, so players on the rise will be in the three-balls category and those who have had negative performances or health news will be in the two-strikes category. Think of this feature as a running stock watch on draft prospects. A player in the two-strikes category may recover in plenty of time before the draft commences. You will also likely see names jump into the three-balls category that may not have a high profile yet but will be worth watching in the lead-up to the draft.
It was another week with a lot of interesting performances. I really wanted to include Kyle Twomey, who pitches for USC, in this week’s Trends piece. In a game featuring two top-10 programs in a rivalry series, Twomey went seven strong innings, allowing no runs. A few guys did get on base, but he is an interesting lefty to watch. I was also set to mark down Cincinnati’s Ian Happ for the two-strikes area. He had a rough Friday and Saturday, but then he rebounded in a big way on Sunday, going 5-5 with a walk and a pair of homeruns. He even scored the winning run in the 12th inning. I should have known better than to ever doubt Happ.
Without further adieu, here are the five guys who ended up making the cut this week.
Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville – If you listened to the podcast that was recorded on Thursday and posted on Friday morning, you heard me mention that if Dillon Tate didn’t go with the number one pick, I thought the most likely player to go there was Funkhouser. I will fully admit I wasn’t the biggest Funkhouser fan, but part of that was heavily tied to his command issues. The reports from Friday stated that he was not just flashing but instead consistently showing plus command. The entire start was fantastic and my feed on Twitter was at least half Funkhouser reports. He was sitting mid 90s throughout the game. The final line was seven innings, eight strikeouts, one walk and only four hits. He kept Louisville in a game which they won, 1-0, over Duke. This week, before his start, I was messing with my next mock draft order. I reorder it every week. I had Funkhouser at five. He could be moving up a lot more if he can make performances like this every week.
Walker Buehler, RHP. Vanderbilt – Buehler was a guy in the top-five of every projected board at the start of the year, but then he had some elbow problems that slowed him down at the start of the year. The knock on Buehler is that he is smaller. For the record, he is only an inch shorter than Funkhouser, although also in fairness, he is nearly 50 pounds thinner, which is – a no pun intended – a big deal. Buehler’s slight build lead to many people just waiting for an injury to happen, so when it did some people jumped off the bandwagon. Since he has returned, he has shown no signs of injury and keeps pitching better and better. On Friday against Ole Miss, Buehler had his best start yet. He went eight innings, struck out 13, walked one, allowed five hits and gave up one earned run. Buehler is another player who looks like a likely top-10 selection in this year’s draft.
Richie Martin, SS, Florida – I had Martin in the strikes column last week but it was great to see him rebound this week in a big way. Shortstops tend to rise on draft day and when one looks at Martin, one sees a sure shortstop with speed who is extremely young for a college player. There are sophomores who are older than him and he won’t turn 21 until the end of December. A lot of teams value a player who is younger and performing. Instead of breaking down his day-by-day numbers, I think it makes more sense to look at the numbers for his entire weekend. He was 6-11 with three walks, a double, homerun and a stolen base. Thanks to his speed and defense, all Martin really needs to do is show some on-base skills. I was a little unfair to Martin in my last mock draft. He has played better as the year as gone on and seems like a sure-fire first-rounder.
Nathan Kirby, LHP, Virginia – At the start of the year, Kirby was viewed as a safe left-handed pitcher who should move quickly. I called him a left-handed Aaron Nola and with the weakness at the top of the draft, Kirby had a very good chance to go high. I had him third in my last mock draft. Kirby’s last few starts have not been strong. His control has been off and his stuff is not playing up. He has seen control issues before, as last year during the College World Series he had similar difficulty. On Friday, he went 5.1 innings and struck out four, walked six, allowed five walks, and gave up four runs. He picked up the win, but his control issues were on full display. I am seeing a lot of negative reports on him in game, and I no longer think he is going in the top-10.
Alex Young, LHP, TCU – Let’s make this a left-hander only version for the Two-Strikes section. Young might have been viewed as Kirby-lite heading into this season. He is another projected first-rounder who was viewed as a safe, fast-moving pitcher with good but not great stuff. He has four pitches and all are average to above-average. Young has been very good all year except that he is averaging less than five innings a start after this week. On Sunday, he went only four innings, giving up three earned runs on five hits and two walks with only two strikeouts. I am curious to see or hear if Young’s stock has dropped at all. He is a proven player who doesn’t need a lot of innings to show off what he can do, but the lack of innings and not going deep in games will be something that teams will be sure to note. It is very odd to see the quick hook from TCU, which has been notorious for ignoring pitch counts and leaving starters in late in games.