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.
It’s almost April, so time for another stock report.
I have to comment on the game that Notre Dame sophomore DH Jake Shepski had on Thursday. The Chicago native went 5-6, with three homeruns, a double, a triple, and nine RBI. I normally don’t talk about RBI but, when you get to nine, it is rather impressive. He is not a regular for the Irish, but with a performance like this, he is going to force more at-bats.
Dakota Hudson went seven innings strong, only walking one and hitting one other. It is amazing to me how he has nearly passed his career total for innings pitched and has seen such a jump in his command. His command went from a mess to an above-average tool. He managed to beat Georgia, even though he gave up eight hits and struck out just five. Hudson’s turnaround since becoming a starter over the summer in the Cape Cod League has been remarkable.
I have not had a chance to talk about Braden Webb from South Carolina. He is a draft-eligible freshman form South Carolina. Last year, he was recovering from injury in high school, so rather than go to South Carolina (who had made him an offer), he went to Evoshield and worked for a year to get healthy. The Indians drafted him in the 38th round last year and now he is going to go a lot higher. It is a rare situation to have a draft-eligible true freshman and it is because he basically took a year off.
Webb pitched very well on Friday against the sixth-ranked team in the country, Ole Miss. He went eight innings, allowing three runs on four hits, two walks, and striking out 14. Webb finished with 101 pitches; only 68 were for strikes. I would like to see that be a little higher, but it is still a fine total and just me nit-picking. It was a heck of a game and a possible coming out party for Webb, a freshman you need to know.
Another first-year starter performing well is C.J. Eldred. The son of Cal Eldred started his career at Indiana as a redshirt, then transferred to Iowa, which meant he had to wait a year to play. Now, he is a redshirt sophomore who hasn’t played in two years outside of summer leagues. He showed at up Iowa, took over the Friday night role, and has excelled. I would like to see a higher strikeout rate, but in terms of hit and walk rates, he is doing well. On Friday, he was facing the much more heralded Mike Shawaryn and came away with the win. Eldred pitched a complete game, surrendering one run on two walks, six hits, and a hit batter. He threw 119 pitches and 80 were for strikes. Eldred also struck out nine, which is four more than his typical strikeout per nine. If his strikeout rate rises as he gets more reps, Eldred is likely to get more press really soon. I hope to see him when he comes to play against Ohio State later this year.
Daulton Jefferies, RHP, California
Simply put, Jefferies has been one of the top pitchers in the country all year. He is in the upper-tier in terms of performance, along with guys such as Zac Gallen, Connor Jones, Logan Shore, and Dakota Hudson.
On Friday, Jefferies faced a very good Oregon State team that was third in the nation coming into the game. Oregon State features one of the breakout players in the country in Logan Ice. Also in the lineup was one of the top bats in next year’s draft class, K.J. Harrison, and two freshmen who were very well thought of in Cadyn Grenier and Nick Madrigal. One could make a case that every one of the players in the OSU lineup is likely to be drafted. This is a long way of saying this lineup is one of the best a college pitcher can face. On top of that, Jefferies was facing Drew Rasmussen, who has been fantastic as a sophomore for Oregon State, and has a chance to be the top pitcher in the Pac-12 in a year.
Jefferies proceeded to pitch a complete game on 106 pitches. He threw 73 of them for strikes. He walked no one and allowed just four hits. Jefferies struck out just four hitters, but I was trying hard to think of the last pitcher I saw in college not have a walk, wild pitch, or hit batter in a game, outside of Thomas Eshelman.
Jefferies is not like most of the undersized right-handers we have seen in the past. He doesn’t have big velocity. Jefferies isn’t likely to be a big strikeout pitcher in the pros. His command is his best tool and it was on full display on Thursday night.
Corbin Burnes, RHP, St. Mary’s College (Calif.)
I have yet to write on Burnes this year and that has to be corrected. He had a pretty okay summer in the Cape Cod League. Even though I had heard of him, I had not spent a lot of time on Burnes before the year began.
This year he has stepped up his performance. In 41.1innings, he has an ERA of 1.74 and a 4.88 strike-out-to-walk ratio. Burnes has been one of the top arms in the country in terms of performance. He pitches in the West Coast Conference, for a school that has not directly produced an everyday MLB player since Mark Teahen in 2002. Burnes is the best hope they have to break that streak.
On Thursday, Burnes faced off against Gonzaga and pitched a complete game shutout. He allowed four hits, no walks, and hit one batter. He struck out six, as well. He threw a lot of pitches at 127, but 90 of those were for strikes.
This is such a deep right-handed college pitcher group. Burnes, being a small school prospect with limited success in the Cape, will likely continue to have a lower profile than some other right-handed pitching prospects. Burnes has potential, with a low 90’s fastball that hits 96, but in this class, there are just a lot of college players that present a similar profile. I think Burnes is a 2nd-5th round selection when June comes around.
Matt Manning, RHP, Shelden HS (CA)
I know this article is typically a space for college players. A big reason for that is it is a lot easier to get information. Unless you have a connection to a program, good luck getting stats or information. I’m writing on Manning not because of his performance, even though he had a great debut this week, but because he has been the name on everyone’s lips this week.
Manning is a 6’7” pitcher who is the small guy in his family, at least when compared to his father, Rick Manning, who is 6’11” and played two years in the NBA in the mid-90s. Manning is a natural athlete who has offers to play Division I basketball. He uses that height to get great downward movement on his sinking fastball, which sits in the low 90s and has hit 95.
Manning has only been pitching for a little over a year, so when you add in athleticism, size, and bloodlines, it is easy to see why Manning looks like a potential top-20 pick, maybe even top-10. The sky is the limit in terms of his potential.
Alec Hansen, RHP, Oklahoma
I know what you’re thinking – not again. I have him here in the negative column for the third time in just six weeks. For half of the season thus far, Hansen has shown up in the bottom rankings, but when you fail to get out of the first inning multiple times this year, well, you’re going to end up here.
I wanted to add that if I could’ve changed my mock draft after this game, I definitely would have. Hansen has officially gone from top talent to enigma who isn’t worth the risk. As a spoiler, I can tell you he is in my top-10, but would not be now. He is well on his way to a team at the top of the second round who is going over-slot for talent, or maybe a team with multiple late first-round picks, such as the Padres.
On Thursday, Hansen went just 0.2 innings, walking three and allowing three hits. He faced just eight batters, giving up four runs. Hansen threw just 34 pitches, but 20 of them were balls. He got two outs to lead-off the inning (both groundouts), then surrendered three straight hits and three straight walks.
This season has been nothing short of a disaster for Hansen. He has literally cost himself millions of dollars. He has gone from a player who was looking at an $8 million bonus to a player who won’t get even half of that, not even close.
Zach Brown, RHP, Kentucky
I nearly went with Bailey Clark here again. While I try to avoid such things, when a guy has had three bad starts in a row and fails to get out of the first inning against a Wake Forest team that is still without Will Craig (and has one conference win and four losses entering the game), it makes you a candidate. Kyle Funkhouser was also on the block after issues facing Virginia. Mike Shawaryn was in the running, as well, and he seems completely gassed right now. He has gone from a possible first rounder to a 3-5 guy and could use a few weeks to rest.
Brown made the list after a rough outing against the top team in the country, Florida. I included him more for how the season has gone rather than his bad outing this week. I have to wonder what is happening with pitchers at Kentucky. Between Brown and Kyle Cody, there has been a pair of first-round arms who have imploded the last two years. Something there just seems to have gone completely wrong.
On Friday, Brown went 3.2 innings, allowing five runs on four hits, walking six, allowing two homeruns, one wild pitch, and striking out just three. His ERA on the year is nearly 6 and all of his other rate based data are up this year compared to last year, except for homerun rate. The positive, though, is that even his strikeout rate is up.
Brown was viewed as a likely first-rounder, who many thought would breakout as a junior. Instead, he seems to have fallen to the Kentucky curse and regressed this year. He is not alone with this issue. I have mentioned four guys in the previous paragraphs that all went from likely first-rounder to not. The bigger problem is that this class is so deep in college right-handers that these players could really plummet.