Another weekend and I am back at Ohio State. This will likely be my last trip out to see the Buckeyes. They don’t face Maryland and Kevin Smith at any point this year, who was considered the top Big Ten draft prospect entering the year. Maryland has become the top producing Big Ten baseball program, to me, as they are consistently putting players into the first five rounds of the draft. I wanted to see them face Indiana in May, but a friend of mine had to go and ruin that by getting married.
I might get one more chance when Ohio State visits Kent State next week, though one can never be sure with Ohio weather.
I wrote about Tre' Gantt and Jalen Washington already this week. Both players had some defensive issues this week.
Washington mixed in some defensive miscues with a spectacular play, ranging and diving to his right. He then got up and forced a throw to first, which sailed on him. I know from talking with a fellow writer, Burke Granger, at the game that the flexibility of Washington is intriguing, but his miscues at short this year have cast doubt that he will be able to play there.
http://www.scout.com/mlb/story/1726524-scout-s-2017-mlb-draft-central Gantt, playing centerfield on a clear, beautiful day, misplayed a ball coming in and one going out and to his left. This is his first year in center field but, in this game, his range looked limited for center.
I hope to see both again as, right now, I have one game with horrible weather and another where neither was sharp. Ohio State has been struggling as a team, but I hope to see a strong performance in another week.
Lucas Gilbreath, LHP
Gilbreath was the main reason I drove the two hours south to see the matchup this weekend. It is a down year across the Big Ten, with several top performers failing to live up to billing in what was already a weaker class of names. Gilbreath was one of the top ten or so prospects in the conference, and maybe the top left handed pitcher in the entire conference. It's between him and Michigan’s Oliver Jaskie or Michigan State’s Alex Troop.
Gilbreath was drafted out of high school in the 37th round of the 2014 draft by the Colorado Rockies. Gilbreath was from Colorado, so it made for a nice story. His first two years at Minnesota, Gilbreath was used almost entirely out of the pen. He had one start out of his 34 appearances before this year. In just 11 more innings, he will set a new high for innings pitched in a season and should end up with more innings pitched this year than he had in his previous two combined.
It was a packed game, which meant I was not in an ideal place to get velocity readings, as I was pretty far from the field. I talked with those around me and they had his velocity ranging from 88-92. He had good separation on his secondary stuff, again I didn't get strong readings. It's a very nice park, but not ideal for someone like me, who doesn't have a top shelf gun.
Gilbreath had struggled with control coming into the game, with a walk rate over five per nine for his career. However, over six and two thirds innings, he didn’t walk a batter, though he did hit one. This was very positive to see, as Gilbreath has always been prone to walks, even when working out of the pen. He has been a strong strikeout pitcher and he struck out seven on Friday.
Gilbreath is undersized and has control concerns. The typical build we expect with his size, velocity, and left handed nature is a control specialist. The fact that he goes against the mold, but doesn’t bring other above average traits, will be a limiting factor for him. This is especially the case in a very deep starting pitching draft. The fact that he is a lefty who has shown strikeout ability should see him in the third to fifth round range. He has experience working out of the pen and, while he should be tried as a starter first, the bullpen is a nice fallback plan.
Luke Pettersen, 2B
Pettersen was the hitter whose numbers on Minnesota most intrigued me. His numbers stood out for a number of reasons. It was more a case, though, of statistical oddity rather than huge production.
The first one was that he had struck out just four times in 18 games, which made him one of the hardest men to strike out in college baseball. He is among the top 20 hardest top strikeout out men in college baseball. He was striking out just 6% of the time he came to the plate, but he was also walking just 4% of the time.
The second was that he had no extra base hits at all this year and just three during his entire career. For the record, he hit one triple as a freshman and two doubles as a sophomore. His career ISO is .021; here’s a fun fact---the lowest ISO in the majors last year was a .075, by Adeiny Hechavarria, which is 360% higher than Pettersen’s career total.
Pettersen had been a backup at Minnesota until this year, with just 121 at bats in his first two years, so it is a bit hard to gauge whether his play is that of a breakout or just a player who has been hot early on. He is hitting well, but since he is not walking or hitting for power, it means that he could quickly fall apart. It also means that his offensive profile is extremely limited.
Pettersen played second base and I didn’t see anything that stood out while I watched. For the second week in a row, Ohio State struggled to make contact, which made it hard to observe Minnesota defenders. The numbers I do have are very positive for him and seem to imply that he is at least an average defender.
On Friday, he struck out twice, which raised his strikeout total to six. I remember the second time he struck out was the most surprising moment of the game, for me. He increased his total strikes by a third in one game. It is not often this late in the year that one sees a stat increase by a third.
Pettersen’s draft profile is limited. The complete lack of power and being a second baseman without any above average skill is going to mean that he likely ends up back at Minnesota. He is a three outcome player--- single, groundout, fly out.