2016 MLB Draft Full Count Trends: 4/18

The 2016 MLB Draft is less than two months away. Which MLB Draft prospects saw their stock rise and which ones saw their stock fall this weekend? Scout's MLB Draft Expert Jeff Ellis takes a look.

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.

After a week off, the stock report is back. Let’s dive in.

I have to lead off with the top performance of the week. I have talked a lot about Jordan Sheffield this year, but I have to mention what he did on Friday night. He pitched a complete game shutout on 124 pitches, 82 of those pitches were for strikes. Sheffield allowed five hits and two walks, but struck out 14. I know people will have issues because of height, but, if you read me regularly, then you should realize I have zero issues there. Sheffield is my top college right-handed pitcher in this class and the gap is widening.

VandyMania.com

Dakota Hudson had his second worst start of the year. He went seven innings, allowing four runs on 10 hits, one walk, and struck out eight. The previous two years combined, he pitched 34 innings. This summer, he pitched 42.2 in the Cape and is up to 60.2 innings total this year. I think a swoon is very possible, due to the amount of innings he has pitched in the last twelve months compared to the previous two years. Hudson has done so much to raise his value this year but, as we saw with Kyle Funkhouser a year ago, a bad May can really hurt a player's stock.

Speaking of Funkhouser, we saw a continuation of his struggles while facing a talented Clemson team. He went five innings, giving up four hits and four walks while striking out four. I talked with a scout this month who told me that Funkhouser’s release point is a mess right now and that is why his control has fallen apart. His control has been very inconsistent the last two years but, right now, it is at a low point. There is value here for a team who could fix Funkhouser and get a first-round talent. 

Funkhouser’s teammate, Corey Ray, had a heck of a weekend as his Cardinals swept a three-game series against Clemson this weekend. Ray went 6-13, with three stolen bases, a double, a walk, a hit by pitch, and a homerun. I think Ray is one of the three players who has a legitimate chance to go number one overall.

I have to mention Anthony Kay from Connecticut, as well. The left-hander is a potential first rounder this June. On Friday, he faced 30th-ranked Houston. He went 8.1 innings, allowing one run on six hits and one walk. He struck out seven. Kay’s numbers were slightly better as a sophomore. They are still solid, though he has rarely faced top competition. I see a likely second rounder, due to his size and being from a smaller program. 

Three Balls

Carmen Benedetti, 3B, Michigan

Benedetti has been a two way player for Michigan the last two years. He works out of the bullpen for the Wolverines, although his future is as hitter. He has been a left-handed reliever for the last two years when he was not playing at first. 

Over the weekend, he went 3-8, with four walks and a double. This is a typical Benedetti stat line. Benedetti has walked nearly twice as much as he has struck out this year. He has hit over .300 the last two years and shown excellent doubles pop. He is on pace for nearly 50 doubles combined the last two years. His home run power is just not there, though. This is the problem for Benedetti. As a first baseman, the lack of power will hurt him, although on base skills and ability as a hitter are solid attributes.

Benedetti is not a first rounder, maybe not even a second rounder. All he does is get on base, but there is value in what he can do. I would not be surprised, though, if he was drafted as a pitcher or a hitter. Benedetti gets over shadowed in the Big Ten by Ryan Boldt, but he is certainly a player to watch.

Nick Banks, OF, Texas A&M

I was happy to see the weekend that Banks had. I know you might think I should be impartial, but I will root for every one of these kids. I want them to be successful. Last week, I pointed out on Twitter that Banks seemed like he might be turning it around. This weekend, facing Dakota Hudson and Mississippi State, Banks exploded.

I want to mention that Banks had a pair of doubles off Hudson. This, in particular, is very impressive because Hudson has been one of the hardest pitchers to get an extra base hit off of all year. Banks was just warming up, though, and ended up also hitting a grand slam home run later in that game.

http://www.scout.com/mlb/story/1644678-scout-s-2016-mlb-draft-central?s=...

Over the whole weekend, Banks was 6-12, with a walk, a stolen base, two doubles, and a homerun.

A healthy Banks would be a big boon for this draft. Last June, he was talked about as a potential top-10 pick. He then got overshadowed on Team USA by Ray and Buddy Reed. Banks was still viewed as a top 15 talent, however. Then he got hurt and has taken some time to come back to full strength and perform well. Banks has plenty of time to reestablish his value and get himself back solidly into the first round. This draft has seen a lot of the top players take steps back, so to see one of them reestablish value would certainly be nice.

Kentucky Pitchers

I know this might be cheating, but I have to mention the bounce backs and overall great performance by Kentucky’s arms this weekend. They might have lost two of three to Vandy, but one cannot fault their starters for those losses.

On Friday night, Zach Brown went 6.2 innings. He allowed three runs on one walk and seven hits. He managed to strikeout six. Brown had some first round talk before the year began, but stumbled out of the gate. His ERA is still over 6, even though his last few starts have looked better. I still don’t know what to make of Brown. I am glad to see progress and hope to see him continue to rebound. I think his days of being a first rounder are done, but he could establish himself as an early second rounder.

On Saturday, Dustin Beggs did exactly what he has done all year, pitch well. I think he is clearly one of the top seniors in this year’s class. On the year, he has a 58:8 strikeouts to walk or a ratio of 7.25. On Friday, he pitched 7 innings, allowing one run on four hits and striking out five. Since he did not walk anyone this week, he now has pitched in more games than the total number of players he has walked. His control is clearly a plus skill and having one outstanding trait certainly makes him an interesting player to watch.

Finally on Sunday, Kyle Cody was able to lead the Wildcats to their only win of the weekend.  He went seven innings and did not give up a single run on four hits and three walks. He struck out eight. He had 104 total pitches and 61 were for strikes which, while not ideal, it is still hard to argue with the results. Cody was a second rounder a year ago; if he continues to pitch this way, he could end up the top senior in this draft class. A year ago, he had some top-10 overall talk, and with his size and fastball, I am not sure any senior has more potential.

All three arms will be drafted in the top-10 rounds. While it will be hard for Beggs to raise his value any higher, Cody and Brown could both significantly change their draft position with a strong showing over the next month and a half. Even bigger if you are a Kentucky fan, though, is that it is going to be hard for any team to match the rotation that Kentucky possesses.

Two strikes

Bailey Clark, RHP, Duke

At the start of the year, Clark was viewed by some as a future reliever. Then he came out and pitched very well, which caused some reassessment. Over the past month, Clark has struggled, and I know I am not alone in seeing a player who could be a very good reliever, but doesn’t look like a future starter.

On Friday, he went three innings, surrendering four runs on three walks and four hits. He struck out two. He threw 61 pitches and just 32 for strikes. His control has been more troublesome this year than in years past. His walk rate is up over a whole walk per nine. As a matter of fact, in four fewer starts this year, Clark actually has one more walk than a year ago.

Clark has had a lot of struggles this year. I could still see him going in the second round to a team that thinks that he could move quickly as a reliever. Then again, he could easily slide back to much later, as instead of improving in his junior year, he has taken a step back in terms of performance.

Tulane’s Top Prospects

I know I am cheating again, but Tulane moved into the top 25 this week and then proceeded to drop two of three to Cincinnati, who is still a below .500 squad, even after those wins. Tulane has a pair of players who have generated a lot of talk this year.  Both are more known for their defense than their offense. Yet, it was still an ugly weekend for Stephen Alemais and Jake Rogers

Alemais went 1-11 this weekend with a double. A plus defender at short with a strong arm, his glove is what will get Alemais drafted. If anyone thought his bat would be an average tool, then he would be a first rounder. I wrote a profile earlier in the year on Alemais and it still rings true. He has continues to perform the way he has done before, with his numbers actually ticking up across the board. I expect to see him go in the first three rounds, in part because of positional value and him being a sure bet to stay at short.

Tulane University Athletic Department
 

Rogers went 0-10 with a walk over the weekend. He is a defense-first catcher who is in the group with Matt Thaiss, Chris Okey, Sean Murphy, Logan Ice, and others who are competing to go in the first three rounds.

Rogers struggled, to put it nicely, his first two years at Tulane. This year has seen him show a lot more power than years past. He has hit four home runs after none his first two years. He is also on pace to hit more doubles this season than he has the last two combined. The offensive profile still isn’t great, but the defensive was good enough to get him on the draft radar when he was posting a sub .600 OPS his first two years in school. I think he is more of a 6-8 rounder as a backup catcher, but it only takes one team.

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