I have to lead off this report by talking about my favorite story of late. Jordan Sheffield came into this week having gone 17 straight innings without allowing a run in the SEC, the top conference in college baseball. On Saturday, he was facing Georgia and brought his streak up to 24 innings. He allowed seven hits and one walk in seven innings, while striking out six. He will look to continue this streak next week against Texas A&M.
In terms of streaks, Matt Krook has failed to last three innings for the last two weeks. Krook has struggled in his first year back from TJ surgery. His walk rate on the year is nearly eight per nine innings. On Friday, facing Washington State, he went just two innings, allowing five hits and one walk while hitting two batters. He gave up four runs and did strike out two. In some respects, the positive here is that he didn’t walk as many as we have seen, but it's been a rough month or so for Krook, which I think has knocked him out of the first round.
I have written at length about Jon Duplantier. I know he plays in a weaker conference, but his performance has been stellar all year. On Friday, he went eight innings, allowing one run on three hits and walk. He also hit a batter. Of the possible 24 outs for him, he recorded 12 via strikeout. He is a big, athletic kid, and is very smart, with one of the better off speed pitches in the draft. I know the concerns about a third pitch and the fact that he pitches for Rice, but I think he should be a slam dunk top 40 player.
Connor Jones has seen his stock suffer this year. It seems to be an annual tradition now to see a Virginia arm go from projected first round pick to near second round pick. Jones was in a great matchup against T.J. Zeuch on Saturday. Jones pitched a complete game, allowing one run on four hits and two walks. He struck out five as well. Jones projects as a back-end arm and should be a player who hears his name called in the 20-40 range.
Michael Shawaryn has had a year to forget. He went from being talked about as first rounder to a guy who is looking more like a 3-5 rounder. He has pitched better of late, and on Friday, facing Penn State, he pitched a complete game, allowing one run on four hits and a walk. In addition, he struck out six. The problem for Shawaryn is a late surge in the Big Ten isn’t going to impress scouts. The conference is pretty down this year and, in general, is the weakest of the traditional power five for baseball. It might be too little too late for Shawaryn to establish value, but he could still end up going in the second round.
Bryan Reynolds had a big Friday night, as he tries to assure himself a spot in the top 20 picks. He went 3-4, with a pair of doubles, two walks, and a homerun. He was facing possible first-rounder Robert Tyler, which makes his performance even more impressive. Reynolds seems to be dipping a bit on boards right now, so a big close to the year could help him get back into the top-10 discussion.
This weekend, Anfernee Grier had to face a trio of pitchers from Kentucky who will be drafted in the top-10 rounds in Zach Brown, Dustin Beggs, and Kyle Cody. He went 7-13, with a walk, triple, and a homerun. Grier will be undervalued on draft day because he is such an anomaly. It is hard to find a right-handed centerfielder of his size with above-average power and low average skills. I am really a fan of his and think he has a chance to be a poor man’s Yoenis Cespedes.
I have to mention the big pitching matchup from Saturday as well, which saw A.J. Puk strike out 10 over six innings. He allowed a single run on four hits and three walks. He did hit a batter and three of his four hits were for extra bases. I have said it multiple times on Twitter but, when talking to people, the general feel is that the Phillies really want Puk to give them a reason to draft him. If he can perform well, he will be the first player off the board. On the other side of the diamond, Braden Webb continue his excellence as a draft-eligible true freshman. He faced the best lineup in the country and gave up a single run on three walks and five hits, while striking out seven over 7.1 innings. I don’t think he is going to get more than a year of the college experience.
J.B. Woodman, OF, Ole Miss
There is hot, there is on fire, and then there was Woodman this weekend. In a three-game series against LSU, he hit at least one home run in every game. On Saturday and Sunday, he had back to back multi-home run games.
Woodman has always been a great athlete with tools to get teams excited but, this year, he has really put things together. The former quarterback, who was rated one of the ten best in the state of Florida, chose baseball over football. This alone should make him a player to promote. His size and bat speed are finally producing power and he seems a good shot to stay in center field defensively.
This weekend, facing #8 LSU, Woodman went 6-12, with 5 home runs, a walk, and a hit by pitch.
Woodman has the tools to slip into the supplemental round. After this weekend, I am sure a lot of teams will be taking a lot more notice.
Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville
I have not had a chance to say a lot of positive things about Funkhouser this year, so when I saw his start against St. John’s, I had to jump on the opportunity. I will admit St. John’s is not the strongest program, but it is great to see a complete outing after the year Funkhouser has had. I talked to a scout a few weeks ago, who informed me his release point has been a mess all year and that has led to his difficulties.
On Saturday, he had few problems with anyone. He pitched seven innings, allowing four hits and two walks. He allowed no runs or any extra base hits while striking out nine.
There is plenty of time left for Funkhouser to right the ship. I don’t think he can get back to where he was a year ago, nor do I think he will be getting a bonus north of a million dollars, but a healthy Funkhouser could certainly end up in the second round.
C.J. Chatham, SS, Florida Atlantic
Chatham is a shortstop in college but, with his height, many will think he has to move off the position. He has the arm to play short or third and could also be tried at second. Either way, in a very weak infield class, Chatham has been a name who has gained more steam this year, due to his excellent performance.
I had not looked into Chatham too much this year after he struggled on the Cape. As a small school player (Conference USA), it is very important to see performance against better competition. He has improved every year at Florida Atlantic. This year has seen big jumps in BABIP, ISO, K/BB, OBP, SLG, etc. He has basically improved in every way possible this year, and in those indicator stats that I tend to look for, he has put up excellent numbers.
This weekend, against Southern Mississippi, Chatham went 9-13 with a walk, double, hit by pitch, and a homerun. He has now walked more this year than the last two years combined and set a new personal home run record as well this weekend.
Chatham’s continued performance in a weaker class has made it so some are willing to overlook the Cape performance to try and find a shortstop worth drafting.
Robert Tyler, RHP, Georgia
Tyler was on the other side of the great pitching performance by Sheffield. Tyler, much like Krook, is in that first year back from TJ surgery and is suffering from the same issues with his command and control, where they seem to not be back to 100% yet. His walk rate on the year is just over five per nine which, while not as bad as Krook, is still pretty horrendous. If you go back to pre- injury, his walk rate was under two and half. I think whatever team drafts him will hope that he can rebound back to previous performance levels.
On Friday, he pitched 2.1 innings, walking six and allowing four hits. It felt like every one of those hits was for extra bases. He did manage to record five strikeouts.
Right now, I think the future for Tyler is more than likely a reliever. His injury has slowed his development and he is basically a two pitch guy right now. I expect any team who drafts him to try him out as a starter. It is the right approach. I just think that the most likely outcome is a solid pen arm.
Florida’s draft-eligible hitters
Florida has a pair of draft eligible bats who really struggled against the excellent pitching one two of South Carolina, Clarke Schmidt and Webb. The game on Sunday was canceled, due to weather, so they gained some respite. They are far from the first pair of hitters to struggle facing South Carolina this year.
I have written at length about Buddy Reed this year. He has gone from a top-10 talent to a guy closer to 50, to me. The tools are there, but I have not seen them consistently applied in games. This weekend, he went 1-8, with a stolen base and a homerun. I think Reed goes in the top 30, just because of his tools and potential. I just would be nervous taking him, though, as you're counting on a college player having significant growth after being drafted.
If Pete Alonso was more than a first baseman, I think I would rate him higher than his teammate, Reed. He has been the better hitter this year and has taken a pretty big leap statistically. It is a bit of surprise to see him jump out as much as he has this year, after the struggles on the Cape. He is another player who has seen his numbers across the board jump up this year. I know this sounds exactly like Chatham from earlier, and one could say they have been two of the players to help themselves the most this year.
Alonso went 2-7 this weekend, with three strike and a walk. Alonso should be a top two round selection but, because of the rough summer he’s had and the fact he is limited to first base, his value will suffer. For instance, if he was listed at third or outfield, I think he would be a likely first rounder. So, Alonso needs to not let up and keep performing at a high level in order to make it very hard to doubt him as a high pick. While we have seen some lessening of the bias against first basemen, it has not been enough to keep it from being a negative mark in the column for a player.
Florida is such a stacked team, they could be in this report every week and could have a total of five players go in the top-100 picks. I would not be surprised at all. This weekend was just a hiccup for both of these hitters. I am sure we will see them both in the three balls section soon enough.