College baseball got underway last week. With the Cincinnati Reds holding the 2nd overall pick in the 2017 draft, we are going to look at how the top prospects performed each week on Monday mornings. When the high school seasons get started we will add in some performances from those guys as well.

The Pitchers

J.B. Bukauskas | RHP | North Carolina

It would be tough to plan a better debut than what Bukauskas had. The righty allowed no runs on three hits, a hit batter and a walk in 6.0 innings. He struck out 10 Kentucky Wildcats on his way to picking up the win. Baseball America had this on him from the start:

The junior worked in the low- to mid-90s throughout the start, routinely touching 96 mph and using a mid-80s slider as his main strikeout pitch.

Alex Faedo | RHP | Florida

Things didn’t exactly go as planned for Faedo in his season debut. The right handed starter didn’t make it through the 5th inning. He allowed a home run and four total runs in 4.2 innings. William & Mary drew three walks and struck out seven times against him along the way. The Miami Herald had a few scouting notes on his velocity during the game.

His fastball touched 95 mph early on and his slider reached 85 mph during the game.

Tanner Houck | RHP | Missouri

Houck struggled, sort of, in his debut. The right hander allowed four earned in 5.2 innings on eight hits. He walked two batters, but he struck out nine in the start.

Alex Lange | RHP | LSU

The top pitcher on the LSU staff, Alex Lange was overshadowed by teammate Jared Ponche, who threw a no-hitter over the weekend. Lange, however, was quite good in his start. The righty tossed 5.0 shutout innings, allowing just four hits and striking out six of the 18 batters he faced. Frankie Piliere had this on Lange:

Alex Lange @LSUbaseball showed top notch stuff today. Worked at 94-96 mph early, then cruised at 91-94 and located his breaking ball

Brendan McKay | LHP | Louisville

The left hander dominated against Alabama State. On the mound, McKay tossed 6.0 shutout innings, allowing just four hits. He didn’t walk anyone and he struck out nine opposing batters as he picked up the win. Jeremy Brown from Perfect Game had this on McKay, from the 1st inning of the game:

Brendan McKay. K’d side, threw 13 FBs & 11 were @ 93 mph. Hard downer CB @ 84

Kyle Wright | RHP | Vanderbilt

The right hander didn’t perform well in his first start of the year. He allowed three runs in 5.0 innings with four hits, including a home run, with three walks and two strikeouts. Early on he showed big velocity according to Christopher Crawford, throwing 93-97 MPH in the 1st. But after that he wasn’t anything close to it.

He was mostly 90-91 with his fastball, and both of his breaking-balls were 40-grade and not strikes more often than not. It was a brisk night, and we have seen more than a few starters get off to poor starts in terms of stuff and results early on. Nevertheless, this was a disappointing effort.

The Hitters

Jeren Kendall | OF | Vanderbilt

There was some good and some bad for Jeren Kendall over his three games in the opening week. The outfielder went 5-15 with two triples and two walks. That’s the good. At the same time, he had five strikeouts against San Diego.

Brendan McKay | 1B | Louisville

Scouts still aren’t sure whether he’s a pitcher or a position guy at the next level. He didn’t help anyone with is performance the first week. As noted above, he was very good on the mound in his first start. Updated: It turns out that despite the game ending six hours before I posted the first version of this story, Louisville hadn’t updated their stats page for the final game of the weekend. McKay wound up going 4-8 with two home runs, four walks, two hit by pitches and one strikeout over three games. Yeah, that will work.

23 Responses

  1. The Duke

    I saw a little bit of Bukauskus’s start. That slider is filthy. Don’t know if I see a smaller guy going top 5 though, especially one who some think ends up as a reliever. Disappointing start for most of the other college guys. I don’t see McKay with the upside as a pitcher or a fit as a hitter to go #2. Royce Lewis and Hunter Greene are getting a lot of pub among the high school guys, it’ll be interesting to see how their seasons go.

  2. Mjc

    I hope they don’t pick Kendall. That kind of swing and miss in college,doesn’t bode well for the future against much more advanced pitching

    • The Duke

      Agreed. That was a big reason why I liked the Senzel pick so much, he struck out about 1/3 as much as Kendall.

  3. Steve

    McKay went 2-4 with another HR, 3RBIs as Louisville finished the tournament 3-0. Go Cards

  4. Simon Cowell

    Brendan McKay Who says he has to be just a pitcher or just a hitter? With skill like that sign the guy up and use him as both. Train him at a secondary position so he can pitch, relieve, pinch hit, or play an everyday position.

    Baseball is hung up on roles and unfortunately it hurts the players and it hurts the fans. Time for a cheap team such as Cincinnati to try out a few new wrinkles. Why not go with a 6 man rotation? Or how about not having any defined starters and use previously designated “relievers” to start your games and just put everyone on a pitch count or even better a “stuff count”? Why not have 2 or 3 players that can both pitch and hit fill up your roster? You would have greater versatility, have greater pitching depth, and greater field depth?

    • Patrick

      I like the out side the box thinking
      We have a hard enough time getting 5 starters let alone 6
      There is not enough time for players to develop and maintain hitting and pitching prowess at the MLB level. Players have hard enough time doing one or the other. That is why you do not see much of pitchers being pinch hitters. ( You do see it with starting pitchers once in awhile.

      Actually a 4 man rotation may be a good idea again since they do not pitch as deep in games. That could give some Roster flex Especially if you team with 2 inning reliever

      Disco-Iggy
      Finnegan- Lorenzen
      Reed-Iggy
      Feldman-Lorenzen

    • Doug Gray

      The entire history of baseball says he’s going to have to choose. There’s just not enough time to focus on both and still be good enough.

      • Simon Cowell

        thats what they said about a one handed pitcher as well. Jim Abbott defied the traditional pitcher no reason why it couldnt happen again. Problem is not enough people willing to think outside the box.

      • Doug Gray

        Jim Abbott wasn’t splitting his time trying to improve his craft because he had one hand. He was able to give 100% of his time directly to pitching. Very false equivalency with your example here.

      • Doug Gray

        So, you’ve got one example from 1920 in the Major Leagues?

        I went back to 1950 and looked at every pitcher who got at least 300 plate appearances in their career. Four of them posted an on-base percentage over .300. That’s less than 1% of all pitchers. One of those guys was Brooks Kieschnick, who was actually a position player with 200 big league plate appearances before switching to a pitcher.

        Three guys, including Kieschnick posted a wRC+ over 81. Ken Brett and Don Newcombe.

        Baseball just isn’t set up for pitchers to hit. In the minor leagues they don’t hit until they are in Double-A, and then they only hit in games where both teams are a national league affiliate. So, most pitchers go years without facing live, in-game pitching. Guys that are good hitters need to work on their swings every day to be even marginal against big league pitching. Pitchers can’t do that – the time restraints are just too much.

      • Andy

        I know there’s no good data, but why not use some minor league time to try? If nothing else, it gives you a chance to see which tools will translate best to MLB level. I would try to let him be a regular position player, who gets work in the bullpen a couple days a week. I find it hard to believe that something that works in high level Division 1 college ball couldn’t also work in minor leagues.

      • Doug Gray

        Well,, teams use the DH so they can get people they actually think have a chance to hit, more chances to hit. Technically, you don’t have to use the DH. Nick Travieso had to bat one game in Dayton because the manager filled out the lineup card incorrectly.

        Here’s the difference with college baseball and professional baseball – all of the guys in the pros were good enough to play in college. 75% of the guys in college aren’t good enough to play in the pros. It takes more work to be a pro. You play every day. You pitch more often as a pro. The opponents are much better as a pro.

        Now, as a pro you do have more time to work on your craft – but you are also playing every day, too.

  5. Kap

    Man… it will be tough to determine who to draft at #2 with results like this. If the draft was today, my guess would be Bukauskus. Short or not, he seems to have the highest floor. Poor results from the college players so far

    • The Duke

      If it were today, I’d go with either Royce Lewis or Hunter Greene. The BA guys in their latest podcast were saying Greene might have the best hit tool in the draft and that along with plus power at either SS or CF. 6 and 7’s across the board.

      • wes

        I’m pretty stoked about either of them as of now. Let’s just hope they crack majors before 24 yrs of age : )

      • Jasonp

        i really like what I hear about both Lewis and Green. I listened to a Baseball America podcast and they just went on and on about Lewis and then mentioned Green has been clocked at 102 already this year. I think both could turn out to be all star players.

      • CP

        Are both of those guys in HS? Would you say they are the highest ceiling prospects in the draft so far?

      • The Duke

        Lewis with the hit tool, not Greene, Greene has the 100 mph fastball at times

  6. RobL

    Luckily, we don’t draft based on the first start of the season in February. A long way to go.

    • The Duke

      Indeed. It’s a long season and minds will be changed many times over in the next 4 months.