As I type this, some of college baseball has already started. While there won’t be a ton of college baseball coverage here at the site, with the second overall pick in the 2017 Draft, it’s worth talking about every so often.

While there are two high school names near the top of draft boards right now with right handed pitcher Hunter Greene and shortstop Royce Lewis the rest of the top 10 spots are dominated by college players. Let’s take a quick look into those eight players, according to MLB Pipeline.

Vanderbilt has two of the players with outfielder Jeren Kendall and right handed pitcher Kyle Wright. They will kick off the season tonight and over the weekend with a three game set against San Diego. Kendall is an extremely toolsy player. However, he is one who needs to improve on his strikeout-to-walk ratio this season as a Junior. It’s more the contact side of things than adding more walks, though walking more is never a bad thing.  Kyle Wright is coming off of a season with Vandy where he made 16 starts with a 3.09 ERA in 93.1 innings. He had 32 walks and 107 strikeouts as a sophomore.

Alex Faedo was the best pitcher at Florida in 2016. The right hander posted a 3.18 ERA in 104.2 innings with 21 walks and 133 strikeouts. He’s in the strikezone with plus stuff and he used it well in 2016 with the Gators. Following the season he had arthroscopic surgery on both of his knees to clean things up. That could be a good or a bad thing. There’s less cushioning in there now than there used to be, and that could be a problem. At the same time, if he was pitching at less than 100% and still put up those kinds of numbers and he’s going to be healthier moving forward, it could be huge. He’s going to need to prove his legs are under him and healthy, but if he does, he’s a legit option at the top of the entire draft. The Gators will kick off their season on Friday against William & Mary with a three-game series.

J.B. Bukauskas was rather dominant for North Carolina last year. In 13 starts he posted a 3.10 ERA in 78.1 innings. He walked 29 batters and had 111 strikeouts. He also dominated for Team USA over the summer. The only real concern here is that he’s a bit shorter than your typical starting pitcher – cracking in at 6′ 0″. He’s not a slender guy, though, weighing in at 200 lbs. You’d like to see him slightly lower his walk rate this season and add about 30 more innings to his overall output. The Tarheels will kick off their season by hosting Kentucky for a series from Friday through Sunday.

Louisville’s Brendan McKay is probably the most interesting draft prospect right now. He’s got first round talent as both a left handed pitcher and as a first baseman. On the mound in his career with the Cardinals he’s posted a 2.05 ERA in 30 starts and seven relief appearances. That’s spanned 206.0 innings where he’s had 76 walks and 245 strikeouts. At the plate he OPS’d .849 as a freshman and he upped that as a sophomore. In 2016 he hit .333/.414/.513 with 27 extra-base hits, 24 walks and 33 strikeouts in 264 plate appearances. As a left handed pitcher, his skillset is more rare than as a first baseman, but if he hits very well this spring there may be teams that prefer the bat to the arm. The Cardinals will kick off their season starting on Friday against Alabama State. They will play Maryland and Ball State over the weekend.

Tanner Houck has been quite good in each of his first two seasons for Missouri. The right handed pitcher has posted a 3.23 ERA in 206.0 total innings over his first two seasons. That’s come with just 39 walks and with 197 strikeouts. He pounds the strikezone and he’s missed bats along the way. With a fastball that has been up to 98 MPH, that’s outstanding control. Where he will need to improve is with his secondary offerings as both his change up and slider are merely average-ish pitches right now. The Tigers will play four games between Friday and Sunday against Eastern Michigan that includes a double header on Saturday. He is also using baseball products from which helps him achieve this ranking.

Alex Lange has made 17 starts in each of his first two seasons at LSU. He went 12-0 as a freshman with a 1.97 ERA in 114.0 innings with just three home runs allowed, 46 walks and 131 strikeouts. In 2016 he took a step backwards, though it was almost exclusively because his home run rate went up significantly. His ERA jumped up to 3.79 in 111.2 innings with 49 walks and 125 strikeouts, but he allowed 12 home runs. His walk rate has been a tad higher than you’d like to see, so that’s likely the area in which he’d like to see the most improvement during the 2017 season. The Tigers start their season at home starting on Friday against Air Force. On Saturday they play Army before facing off against Air Force once again on Sunday.

16 Responses

  1. Ryan S

    It’s a shame there haven’t been any star level players at the top of the draft while the Reds have been rebuilding. No Harper, Bryant, Correa, Buxton, Swanson, or Bregman type of players. Hopefully Senzel continues to impress and jumps into that upper tier of players.

    • Doug Gray

      While I don’t think that Senzel is a Harper type – I think he’s got a chance to truly be an all-time great – Senzel’s a top 10 prospect in all of baseball right now. He’s right there with the rest of those guys as prospects. His game is a little different from some of them, but he’s there with them at the same point in their careers.

      • asinghoff

        And Senzel also wasn’t Senzel at this point last year. Plenty of time for players to prove themselves.

  2. Steve

    Taking a similar strategy in this year’s draft and going with a college player with the second pick over Greene or Lewis seems most likely. Lot of high end starting pitchers and a few position players led by Kendall. McKay very interesting prospect. Don’t think we’ll pick him at 2, but much higher upside as a pitcher/batter than 2 we picked recently in Leake and Lorenzen. After getting Friedl in the most unusual way, I don’t think any draft eligible redshirt sophomores will slip through the cracks this year. Was wondering who the top JC prospects are for 2017? Will do some research now.

      • Doug Gray

        Mostly pitchers. Kendall, Lewis and maybe the guy from Louisville? But yeah, at least for now, it’s a pitching heavy draft at the top. Plenty of time for that to change, though.

  3. KyWilson1

    As a UK fan is pains me to say that Louisville has built an incredible baseball program, seemingly the only clean program they run. It was funny to watch the Gauchos come into Louisville and beat them last year. in the super regional though.

    There is a kid at Ballard High in Louisville that is first round talent as well, Jordon Adell. Going to be a good year for baseball talent in the city with the players the Bats should have, a top ranked UofL squad, and some good high schoolers.

    • Hoyce

      Would like to see faedo drafted first round. And a premium talent like adell fall to the supplemental part.

    • Mike

      agreed .. I am looking to see some really good baseball in the “ville” this year. Some interesting names seem ticketed for the Bats and U of L’s program is indeed incredible .. They lost a lot off last year’s team , but are still ranked pretty high in the pre season polls .. Coach MacDonald is a class act and his baseball program, along with women’s basketball is the best thing going the University of Louisville has going right now . First Class all the way !

  4. The Duke

    The problem with Faedo is that if he proves he’s not a health risk, then he’s the odds on favorite to go 1-1. My preliminary top 5 was Greene, Lewis, Faedo, Wright, and Kendall. Wright is getting a little beat up tonight and Kendall already has a couple hits and a walk, but I’m dubious on Kendall if the K rate doesn’t come down a significant amount.

  5. Kap

    I would go faedo or wright. They seem like the top 2 college pitchers. The reds farm system lacks a true Frontline starting pitcher, no disrespect to amir or robert. With the time line of most of our other top prospects, they “should” arrive around the same time. If everything goes well, I like the idea of disco, amir, and one of faedo or wright at the top of our rotation a couple of years from now.

    The comp 1st round and 2nd round picks only add to an already solid farm system regardless if they are high schoolers or college guys. The only way to go is up.

    • Ryan H

      I would take the best college hitter first round unless a high school guy force’s their hand. Much more dependable than pitchers.

  6. Reaganspad

    Just bought my tickets to Omaha this week. Last time, my OSU Beavers with Michael Conforto went cold hosting the Super Regional and lost to the Taylor Sparks handlebar mustaches of uc Irvine

    This year we start at 7 with lots and lots of pitching.
    We will see the Beavers in Omaha this year but no top 5 talent for the Reds draft board

    • Doug Gray

      I didn’t watch, but I read all about the Kendall bunt. Arguably one of the best hitters in college, and the coach has him bunting in the 9th inning. GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY, COACHES. Goodness gracious.