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College baseball preview: match-ups to watch for week of 4/4

The SEC continues to dominate in the match-ups to watch for 2016 MLB Draft talent. Find out what games you should be tuning into this weekend.

After recovering from last week’s star-studded match-ups, we return this week to talk about a couple of top pitching match-ups and also cover a couple of the top bats that could be coming off the board in June.

Matchup: #5 Mississippi State vs #1 Florida

The top college matchup this weekend will be going on in Gainesville. Last week, we were treated to six of the top seven teams facing off against each other, including a #1 versus #2. This week, the best top-five matchup to watch is #5 Mississippi State versus #1 Florida. 

For 2016 MLB Draft purposes, there are elite prospects on either side of the field. On Friday night, which seems to be the best night when it comes to the top prospects shining on the field, we will have a Dakota Hudson versus Logan Shore matchup on the hill.

Hudson, who keeps improving on his already spectacular start to his spring, looks to keep it going against a very talented UF lineup. With a 4-1 record and a 0.92 ERA in 48.2 innings, along with 56 strikeouts, Hudson has seen his draft stock soar since the beginning of the year. Opponents are hitting .190 against the Bulldogs’ ace right-hander. 

Facing off against Hudson this Friday night will be the other half of Florida’s dual aces, the right-hander Shore. Shore is 5-0 with a 2.59 ERA in 41.2 innings pitched, with 49 punch outs to only eight walks. Last week was Shore’s shortest start of the season. He pitched only four innings and gave up five hits, before being pulled from the game with the bases loaded against then #2 Texas A&M. Shore is being leaned on even more this season, as fellow ace, left-hander A.J. Puk, has been dealing with an injury lately. It’s hard to tell where Shore could go in the draft. I believe he is a first-round pick and could go anywhere in the back half of the first round. 

Kan Li / Scout

The top hitter to look for in this weekend matchup is Florida speedster, Buddy Reed. Coming into this season as one of the top position players in the draft, Reed is having a solid season, displaying the tools that made him a hot commodity in the scouting community. Hitting .301/.392/.451 with two home runs and 15 RBI along with 14 stolen bases, Reed continues to flash his athleticism on the field. I like Reed quite a bit and believe that wherever he is taken in the first round this year, the selecting team could find themselves a gem.

Matchup: Tennessee vs #8 South Carolina 

I never realized how stacked the SEC is with MLB prospects until turning on the TV and seeing nothing but SEC games and/or analysts talking about the top prospects in college. This matchup is no different.

The headline prospect to watch for in this weekend’s matchup is Tennessee right-handed slugger Nick Senzel. The third base prospect (and likely top 5 pick) is putting up ridiculous numbers at the plate this spring. Hitting .384/.504/.646, with four home runs and a whopping 40 RBI to go along with 10 stolen bases, Senzel is making a case to be the top bat off the board this June.

Photo by Danny Parker

For South Carolina, their top prospect in this year’s draft is 6’3’’ right-hander Wil Crowe. Not having his best season this year when compared to last, Crowe is going to be the one tasked with trying to find a way to get Senzel out at the plate. Although Crowe is striking more batters out this season, he is also walking more batters this year. 

Coming off of an 8-3 record last season, Crowe has taken a step back in his progression this year. He has a 3-4 record in nine starts, with a 4.92 ERA in 51.1 innings. As mentioned, he is striking out more batters this year (as evidenced by the 59 K’s already), but he also has 19 walks, as well. Right now, he has the same amount of strikeouts to walks that he had last season, but last season he pitched 91.2 innings. For Crowe, I look for him to be drafted somewhere, but also believe he will not sign with said team and instead return to school for his third season at South Carolina.

Matchup: #11 California vs Oregon

Going up to the upper Northwest for our next matchup, this weekend all eyes will be on the mound for the Friday night pitcher’s duel between two of the top arms in this year’s draft class.

We start with Cal ace Daulton Jefferies, who hasn’t lost a decision this year and is on some kind of roll this spring. With a 6-0 record in six starts and a 1.29 ERA with 47 strikeouts in 42 innings, Jefferies is making a case to be included in the first round of this very top heavy pitching class.

Sue Tenerowicz

On the other side of the bump is Oregon’s ace lefty Matt Krook. Krook, who was a first-round pick by the Miami Marlins in 2013, may be regretting the decision not to turn pro now as he has seen his draft stock slip a bit this year.

Running into control problems has been Krook’s biggest issue this spring, as he has a whopping 21 walks in only 26.2 innings pitched. In six starts this year, Krook has a 4.39 ERA, with 37 strikeouts and, as mentioned, 21 walks. That isn’t exactly the strikeout to walk ratio that teams are looking for when it comes to making a decision on a prospect’s future. As is the case with most lefties, the stuff is there for Krook. It’s just a matter of being able to reign in the command a bit. Based off of talent alone, Krook should go in the first few rounds.

You can comment and follow me @JoeBecerrra on Twitter.


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