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.
I am going to keep leading off this list with Jordan Sheffield updates until he finally gives up an earned run. On Thursday, he went seven, but an unearned run did get across. Sheffield is now up to 31 innings without a run being scored in the SEC. He went seven strong while not walking anyone, though he did hit a batter and he allowed six hits. He managed to strikeout five on the day. Sheffield is pitching as well as anyone in the country right now. I know his height concerns will make many think he can’t be a starter. Then again, those same people said the same about Marcus Stroman, Sonny Gray, etc.
If I am mentioning the best pitchers of late, one would have to mention Jon Duplantier, who continues to put up big strikeout totals along with low walk totals. On Friday, Duplantier was facing Florida International and went 8.1 innings. He allowed three hits and walked one while striking out eight. He has one of the best strikeout to walk ratios in college baseball which, along with his size, intelligence, and athleticism are going to push him up a lot of boards.
Remember last week, when J.B. Woodman had a pair of back-to-back multi home run games? Well, he had another one on Saturday, facing Georgia. He is up to 10 homers on the year. I don’t understand the startling lack of love for Woodman, a top athlete who is finally putting his tools into use. He is surely an interesting player to watch, who might go a bit later than one would expect, with his tools and production.
Robert Tyler had another rough week for Georgia, facing Woodman and Ole Miss. Tyler went just four innings and gave up six earned runs on five hits, four walks, and two wild pitches, while only managing two strikeouts. He is going to be an interesting player to watch, because there is a chance for a buy low if you think the command issues are just the year one rust after Tommy John surgery.
Three Balls (Reliever-turned-first year starter edition)
Kyle Simonds, RHP, Texas A&M
Simonds had a big day on Saturday, facing a very good Vanderbilt squad. For those who missed it, Simonds had a no hitter where he also didn’t walk anyone. The only reason it was not a perfect game was because of an error in the first.
Just the week before, Simonds had recorded his first complete game. He is a senior who is getting his first chance to start for an extended period of time for the Aggies. He was mostly a reliever as a junior and spent his freshman and sophomore years at a JUCO program.
Simonds is a big right hander, at 6’4”, but his numbers look more like that of a command/control starter. He doesn’t walk many batters, but his strikeout rate is also very low. His size and command might make a team think that Simonds has a chance to be a backend innings eater type, if you get a little lucky. On top of that, he is performing well in the top conference in America. He has a chance to get drafted as a senior sign candidate this year.
Dakota Hudson, RHP, Mississippi State
The last few weeks I had been commenting about the struggles of Hudson, so I wanted to highlight him for a great performance on Friday. He went 7.1 innings, allowing one run on seven hits and no walks. He struck out 11.
I had worried about Hudson slowing down as the year went on, due to the amount of innings he has pitched this year after being a reliever early in his career. This weekend was a bounce back by Hudson, who dominated Missouri. Now I should also note that Missouri is one of the worst teams in the SEC this year and also one of the worst offenses, but it is still good to see the bounce back performance.
Hudson is likely the first college right hander off the board and a top 15 pick. It has been quite the ride for the right hander from Mississippi State.
Cody Sedlock, RHP, Illinois
Much like Hudson, Sedlock was a reliever just a year ago who is in his first year as a starter and has established himself as a first round pick. This time last year, he wasn’t even the top reliever in the Illinois bullpen, and now, here he is, a likely top-25 selection.
On Friday, things started out rough for Sedlock. He surrendered a run in the first two innings. Then he locked in and retired 22 straight Maryland batters on his way to a complete game. He allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits and a walk. He also struck out seven.
Sedlock should be the first player selected from the Big Ten this year. At the start of the year, it was supposed to be Nick Bodlt or Michael Shawaryn, who Sedlock faced on Friday, but, as of now, I would put my money on Sedlock being the first name from the Big Ten.
Nick Banks, OF, Texas A&M
Banks was the last add to my Big Board last month. He had been such a dominant player the year before, he was widely viewed as a likely top-10 pick. I had a hard time dropping him out of my top 50. He has not lived up to expectations and, right now, strikes me as a likely second or third rounder.
This weekend, facing the extremely tough pitching staff at Vanderbilt, Banks went hitless. Overall, he was 0-10, with three strikeouts and a walk. He did face Sheffield and likely top-10 pick next year, Kyle Wright, which would be hard for anyone.
Banks is down in most statistical areas. His power, as shown by his ISO, is the only thing that has been up this year. Still, it is a shame to see a player go from where he was projected this time last year to where he is expected to go now.
A.J. Puk, LHP, Florida
I think everyone has heard the talk on Puk, as everyone who has written on the draft and done a mock of late has Puk at number one. The Phillies like him and seem to feel very blasé about the other players at the top of this draft class. It is easy to see why they like Puk, with his size, velocity, and stuff from the left side.
Saturday, though, was a day to forget for the left hander, who was facing Tennessee. He went just 3.1 innings, giving up two earned runs on three hits, six walks, and a hit batter. He did strikeout six, though his pitch count was up to 91 in the third.
For all the teeth gnashing about Puk’s inconsistencies this year, his rate data is basically the same as last year. His walk rate is up .4 walks per nine and his K rate is also up .9 per nine. His hit rate is also slightly down, as is his HR rate. So most of the issues are that he has not improved. I mentioned this on Twitter, but I see a lot of Drew Pomeranz in Puk. Both are big lefties with command issues, but huge strikeout potential.