Editor’s Note: Every week 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.
This week I am highlighting some new faces across the board. While I could have included repeats on both the positive and negative side, I wanted to introduce some new names for fans to follow.
Here is a spoiler for next week. I am leaving off one big name, because I want to do a profile on Heath Quinn this week. I am familiar with him from my time covering the Cleveland Indians. So while it might be insane to leave him off any list of top performers, I didn’t want to write two pieces on him that will come out just a day or two apart. This is the same reason I am not mentioning Sean Murphy, who I featured last week and who had a very good weekend, hitting a big homerun against NC State.
There were more big performances this week, but I am looking forward to conference play when we get to see the best teams face off and the top talent go against each other. While these matchups do allow for smaller school guys to show off, I am able to take less from these matchups in general.
Kevin Hill, RHP, South Alabama
Speaking of smaller school guys, Kevin Hill is about as unlikely a prospect as you will find. On top of being from a small school, he is sub six feet (5’11”), is a little on the bigger side (230), doesn’t throw hard, and is a redshirt junior who will turn 24 in August. A year ago, Hill posted a 1.73 ERA, with a 2.81 K:BB, and a hit rate under seven. He gained some fame last year after he pitched four straight complete games.
On Friday, he faced Georgia and outdueled last week’s mention, Robert Tyler, who also pitched very well. Hill pitched a complete game, three hitter while striking out 12. He had a perfect game until the sixth inning.
Hill features a three pitch mix. His fastball is 88-91, but with a sinking action. His fastball is used to set up his off-speed stuff. Both his change and slider have been virtually unhittable for college batters. He mixes these pitches well and batters never seem comfortable in the box facing him.
His age and size will be major issues when it comes to the draft, but as a senior sign who should move quickly, there is value in a player like Hill. He knows how to pitch and what he needs to do to be successful. He is basically a finished product at this point, and that is both a good and bad thing. It is going to be an uphill battle to prove himself, but I will be paying attention to every start.
Zac Gallen, RHP, North Carolina
Zac Gallen showed improvement from his freshman to his sophomore year, but the improvement in numbers so far this year has been otherworldly. I mentioned how most top teams have faced weaker schedules, but this is not the case for UNC. The first two weeks they have faced ranked opponents in UCLA and Oklahoma State. Gallen has looked like one of the best pitchers in the country so far against both squads.
On Friday night, he went seven strong, walking three, surrendering three hits, and striking out nine. For those who missed it, last week he went 7.1 with four hits, two walks, and 11 strikeouts. Two games against two top opponents and the results are better than one could have expected.
Gallen is 6’2” and sits mostly in the low 90s. His control and command are both average, as well. I know people want to get excited, but with the pitching depth in this class, it is hard to see Gallen as a first-rounder. He has done a lot to raise his value and should go in the top 100 picks, but I still think Gallen, unless his stuff ticks up, is more than likely a guy in the 30-50 range, if not later.
Andrew Calica, CF, UC – Santa Barbara
If you listened to the podcast this week, then you heard me talk about Andrew Calica. If you did not listen to the podcast, then I must question your life choices. Either way, you should listen to it for my quick take on Calica.
This past weekend, Calica went 3-11, which might make one think that he had a bad weekend, until you see he walked six times. In other words, he reached base in 9-17 chances. That me state it another way: he got on base more than 50% of the time this weekend. He did this while facing good competition, including a potential first-round pick who is mentioned below. He also hit a triple and stole two bases.
Calica was a 17th round pick by the Indians in 2012 and is a red shirt junior. I was a bit surprised that no one took a flyer on him last year, but he’s near the top of the list of talented senior-aged players in this draft. Calica really started to generate talk this summer when he went to the Cape Cod League and hit everything. He led the entire Cape in average. Not only did he lead the Cape in average, but he was 61 points higher than Nick Senzel (who finished second) and is a potential top-20 pick. Calica was facing the top players in the country and no one could consistently get him out.
Calica has no power whatsoever. He plays a solid center, has some speed, and gets on base--that is his game. As long as he continues to get on base and show that he can handle center, I would expect to see Calica go in the top 10 rounds this year. Almost all of his value is tied to his bat and on-base skills, though.
Zach Brown, RHP, Kentucky
There seems to be something about projected first round pitchers from Kentucky and disappointing performance. I see very little said about Kyle Cody, a second rounder to the Twins last year, who was a guy on some top-10 lists before last season began.
This year Zach Brown, who was projected to be a first round pick by many, has stumbled out of the gate. I was seeing so many positive and, frankly, excited reports about him early Friday night and then watched it slowly unravel. I get why people are excited by the potential, but consistency has been an issue.
This weekend Brown went 4.1 innings, allowing five hits, walking three, and striking out just four. The previous week against Wofford he only went 3.2, allowing nine hits and striking out three.
Brown is a 6’2” right hander with a mid-90s fastball and a change which looks like an out-pitch. His slider is solid, as well. The problem seems to lie with his command and there have been some who think he might end up in the bullpen in the end.
If this story seems familiar, it is almost identical to what we saw with a projected high Kentucky arm a year ago in Cody.
Bobby Dalbec, 3B, Arizona
Brown has had a pair of bad starts. Kyle Funkhouser has been just as bad. Alec Hansen had the worst start of any potential first round pitcher. Yet the player having the worst start to his year is Bobby Dalbec of Arizona.
Dalbec went 0-5 with five strikeouts on Friday night. This was after a weekend that saw him go 1-11 with seven strikeouts and two walks. There were some small signs of life over Saturday and Sunday. Well, relative signs of life at least. He went 2-9 with a walk, two doubles, and only two strikeouts. I do want everyone to think about this for a second, though. Things are so bad for Dalbec that 2-9 is a good two days.
In a weak college hitter class, Dalbec was the big bat. He was a top-20 guy on many boards because of his right-handed power. This was despite concerns about his future position. His power was what the majority of his value was based on. The problem with power is no matter how much you have, if you can’t make contact, then it’s useless.
No player has generated more talk by the draftniks than Dalbec, and it has been purely for the wrong reasons.