This week’s edition of ‘What to Watch For’ features the only Top-25 matchup in college baseball this year, an update on two of the top prospects in the SEC, and a showdown in the Big Ten.
Matchup: #8 Vanderbilt vs #2 Texas A&M
The top matchup in college baseball this weekend will take place in College Station. It’s a matchup between one of the hottest pitchers in the country and, arguably, the hottest team in the country.
We start off with Vanderbilt top prospect Jordan Sheffield, who I cannot stop writing about this year. I will be most intrigued to see where he goes in the draft and, most importantly, what team he ends up with. He is one of my top-three pitchers in the entire draft and, in my opinion, the top right-hander in the draft.
On the season, Sheffield is 7-2, with a 2.29 ERA in 70.2 innings pitched and has 87 punch-outs. The ability to miss bats, a 95 mph fastball, and off-speed stuff is Sheffield’s bread and butter. Jordan has 11 strikeouts per 9 innings this season. I look for him to be one of the top right handed pitchers off the board this June.
Here is video from Scout’s Danny Parker, showing Sheffield’s outing two weekends ago.
For Texas A&M and their red hot offense as of late, their top prospect for this upcoming draft is outfielder Nick Banks. Banks is a solid hitter with no plus tools, but is solid across the board. He has good gap-to-gap power, as evidenced by his nine doubles and three triples to go along with his six home runs. Banks is an interesting prospect. He came into the season highly touted but, as of right now, I see him coming off the board in the third round.
Also, another guy to keep a look out for is Aggies right-handed pitcher Ryan Hendrix. Hendrix, the tall, lanky reliever, is someone who has bullpen guy written all over him at the next level. He certainly has closer stuff, as he is striking out hitters at a 14 K/9 clip. However, his command and leaving the ball up in the zone has hurt him time and time again this season. Drafted in the 17th round by the Cleveland Indians in 2013, that’s about where I expect Hendrix to go again this time around.
Matchup: Illinois vs Maryland
In this Big Ten match-up, we have two right-handed pitchers trying to make their way up the draft boards as we creep closer and closer to this year’s Amateur Draft in June.
For the Illini, their top prospect to watch this weekend is 6’4 right handed pitcher, Cody Sedlock. Sedlock is a guy who has seen his star shine a little brighter this year, and possibly his draft stock, as well. On the year, he has a 4-2 record and a 3.04 ERA, with 90 strikeouts in 74 innings pitched. Not previously drafted, I would look for Sedlock to come off the board at about the 5th round.
The Maryland prospect to watch is also a right-handed pitcher, Michael Shawaryn. The Terrapin ace is well known for his command, ability to control both sides of the plate, and not being able to be hit hard. On the season, Shawaryn is 4-3, with a 3.26 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 69 innings pitched. Shawaryn also has a complete game on the resume this season. Drafted in the 32nd round by the Kansas City Royals, the junior right-hander will surely go before that on this go around. Shawaryn is a guy who should be a quick riser through the minor leagues, as he is more polished than a lot of his peers who are coming out in the draft this year.
Matchup: #9 Louisville vs North Carolina
Arguably, the best offensive hitter in college baseball this season is Corey Ray, a true five-tool player. Likely to be a top-three pick in this year’s draft, the “Louisville Slugger” is the total package. On the season, Ray is putting up gaudy numbers. With a .321 average and 13 home runs to go along with 49 RBI, Ray is one of this years “can’t miss” prospects. With the ability to take the ball out of the yard, Ray has excellent gap to gap power that should develop even more with time. Ray is also a menace on the base paths, having stolen 35 bases while being caught zero times. The kid can do it all. Any team who passes on him in the draft may quickly regret that decision, as Ray is poised to become someone’s top prospect in their minor league system, having the ability to rise through the ranks pretty quickly. If he is still on the board come the 5th overall selection, somebody should call the police, because that is thievery.
For North Carolina, the top prospects to watch are pitcher Zac Gallen and outfielder Tyler Ramirez. Starting with right-handed pitcher, Gallen, who started off hotter than a fire cracker and has continued to have a steady year. With a 4-4 record (one of those wins coming by way of a shutout), he has a stellar 2.62 ERA, with 76 strikeouts in 68.2 innings pitched. To me, Gallen is still an interesting guy, as I can’t quite tell whether or not his future will be coming out of the bullpen or sticking in the rotation and likely having a #4 or #5 ceiling in pro ball. I see Gallen being taken at about the 4th round.
Another guy making a name for himself is Ramirez, who is the Tar Heels top eligible draft bat. On the season, Ramirez is hitting a very good .347, with seven home runs and 39 RBI to go along with 10 stolen bases. Although small in size at 5’9”, Ramirez has a good frame and some sneaky power. I’ll be interested to follow Ramirez’s career and I can actually see him coming off the board by the 5th round. He is a good ball player.
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