Photo of Nick Senzel by Danny Parker

College baseball preview: match-ups to watch for week of 3/14

Where can you find the key match-ups between top MLB Draft prospects this weekend? Joe Becerra previews the slate.

In this week’s edition of ‘What to Watch For’, I will be focusing on a couple guys that I couldn't wait to talk about that are going up against other top-flight draft prospects. I will also be covering the best pitching matchup in college baseball this week.

Matchup: #1 Florida vs Missouri

In my very first ‘What to Watch For’, I talked at great length about Florida top prospect, left-handed pitching ace A.J. Puk. This week, I would like to talk about his right-handed pitching teammate, Logan Shore. Shore is having a fantastic start to his spring and is already rocketing up draft boards into the top half of the first round. With a 4-0 record and a 2.00 ERA so far this season, Shore is one of the safer options when it comes to pitching prospects in the entire draft. He is touted as being a “strike thrower”, whose best pitch is his changeup. He has also shown the ability to miss bats, as evidenced by his 28 K’s in 27 innings pitched. Shore doesn't possess dominant stuff, but what he does as well as anyone in this year’s draft is command all of his pitches for strikes and get many easy outs. As I said, Shore should be in the top half of the first round and would be considered great value if picked anywhere after 20.

On the Missouri side of things, the one guy to keep an eye on is shortstop Ryan Howard. Drafted in the 31st round by the San Francisco Giants just a year ago, the senior shortstop has had a steady year so far and should be taken in the top-15 rounds. Howard is hitting .311 with 3 home runs and 10 RBI. 

Matchup: #15 Mississippi State vs #2 Vanderbilt

The pitching matchup to watch for this weekend comes between two top-15 teams. This showdown will have scouts from all parts of the country tuned in.

Starting for Mississippi State is Dakota Hudson, who I wrote about just last week. Hudson is having a stellar year and his draft stock continues to remain somewhere in the first round. With a 2-1 record and a sparkling 1.90 ERA, Hudson looks to showcase his talents against one of the nation’s top teams. The one negative (somewhat) for Hudson so far has been his command. While he still holds up to his reputation as being able to miss bats (32 K’s in 23.2 IP), he needs to work on reigning in that command a little bit, as he has 15 walks.

Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

On the other side of the hill is Vandy righty Jordan Sheffield, who I profiled earlier this spring, as well. Sheffield is having a very good year to start his 2016 spring campaign. He has a 3-1 record with a 1.09 ERA. Let me repeat that, a 1.09 ERA! The one thing that Sheffield needed to work on this year was his command and it appears that he has made some adjustments. One of the best pure strikeout pitchers in this year’s class (36 K’s in 24.2 IP), Sheffield has cut down dramatically on his walk ratio, having only walked seven batters this spring. Sheffield, as I stated before, is one of my favorite pitching prospects in this year’s class. In my opinion, he should be a high pick, but we will see how things shake out.

Matchup: #9 Ole Miss vs Tennessee

When I was writing this piece, I couldn't wait to get to this matchup. First off, I get to talk about my favorite SS in the draft, Errol Robinson. Also, I FINALLY get to talk about one of the top bats in the entire draft in Tennessee Volunteer 2B/3B, Nick Senzel.

As I mentioned, my favorite SS in this year’s draft class is Robinson. Robinson hasn’t done anything this year to make me believe that he won’t be a good major league shortstop in the future. The stats are what you would expect from a prototypical shortstop, as he doesn't hit for much power, but shows ability to get on base and make things happen. Robinson is hitting .250 with only 1 home run, but has 11 RBI so far and has also stolen a couple bags in three tries. Robinson is one of the better defenders at his position and projects as an above-average defender at the next level

USA Today

Now, on to the Tennessee side of things. How Senzel was not drafted in 2013 coming out of high school is beyond me. Voted 2016 First Team All-American by just about every single major outlet, Senzel may well end up in the top-10 of this year’s draft. Senzel is currently hitting a robust .394, with 1 home run and 25 RBI, while also stealing 7 of 8 bases this year. He is on-track for a major pay day come June.

Some say that Senzel will end up in the outfield when it’s all said done and, although he has been moved around the diamond in his three years at Tennessee, he is known for his hit tool. However, he doesn't display the power some scouts would like to see, especially if he were to move to the outfield at a possible corner spot. He would need to work on bulking up as his body matures. I expect Senzel to be taken anywhere in the top 10. 

You can comment or follow me @JoeBecerrra on Twitter.


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