When one door closes, another one opens.
Depending on which door you are facing, your outlook about said door could be drastically different.
Over the first few weeks of this year’s college baseball season, injuries are devastating the ranks of some of this year’s top college pitchers who were likely to be taken in round 1 of this year’s MLB Draft on July 17.
First, Arkansas’ Peyton Pallette went down before the season even started. At the time, most publications had him as the highest rated college pitcher. Draft rankings that came out in January and February had Pallette in the low 10s, sometimes creping up into the top 10. Now, he’s fallen to the second round on most boards.
Pallette was replaced by Tennessee junior Blade Tidwell who then went down next and that turned from shoulder stiffness to shoulder soreness. The big righty and his time atop the college pitching ranks was very short lived. Although, Tidwell could return later in the year and has recently begun a throwing program.
Next man up was Mississippi State’s Landon Sims. The curse, unfortunately, struck again. You just hate to see this. It does not look good.
And these are just a few of the names as Carson Whisenhunt of East Carolina hasn’t pitched for disciplinary reasons.
As a result, draft boards look like they are going to be a pretty fluid product this spring, especially when it comes to pitching.
That leaves us with the question of, “Which pitchers are going to move up most boards?”
For MLB Pipeline, the next highest rated pitcher with college experience is none other Kumar Rocker. Over at Baseball America, that honor falls to Hunter Barco, a lefty, from Florida. FanGraphs, on the other hand, has Rocker at 12 and Carson Whisenhunt of East Carolina is at 15. Meanwhile, Prospects Live’s next guy is Rocker at 24 and Whisenhunt and Gonzaga’s Gabriel Hughes follow at 34 and 35.
What the aforementioned paragraph doesn’t tell you is that there are a lot of prep pitchers ranked in between the injured and the next guy up. Names like Ian Ritchie, Walter Ford, Andrew Dutkanych (Oh, the more I see of this guy, the more I like him), Tristan Smith, Brock Porter, Jackson Ferris, Noah Schultz of nearby Oswego, Brandon Berreria, and, of course, Dylan Lesko. It is shaping up to be the year of the prep pitcher in draft, especially in the second half of the first round. Could we see several of them move up all the way to the top ten? It’s a definite possibility.
We could also see the same thing from college guys that are slotted in the 30s, 40s, and 50s if they have a dominant run the next three months.
I am sure Greg Zumach would bring up some names of guys who pitch at either Florida or Florida State, but the name that intrigued me most two months ago in the 30s was two-way player Reggie Crawford of Connecticut. His athleticism was his biggest attribute. If he concentrated on pitching full-time as a pro, he could really take off with pro coaching and pro data analysis. He has USA Baseball and Cape Cod League experience. Oh, and he’s left-handed. Then again, he also went down with a torn UCL. It never ends this spring!!!
In a chat last Sunday night, I asked Prospects Live, “Which college arm is the fastest riser at this point?” and this is their response.
The one prep arm who could join Lesko near the top of the draft is Andrew Dutkanych of Indianapolis. I like what I have seen of him in a small sample size. He already is tunneling three pitches and that fastball up in the zone has some “giddy-up” to it. He does have four pitches in his back pocket but has mainly been going fastball-slider with an occasional curve and a rare changeup. At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, he still has some growing left to do, but not a lot.
I am intrigued as to how much these pitchers will move up and down the next few months. It should be exciting to watch.