Top draft prospects check in: Week 4 Doug Gray March 13, 2017 20 Comments We are finally at a point in the spring in which it appears that everyone being considered a Top 10 caliber draft prospect for 2017 has been on the field. The Cincinnati Reds have the 2nd overall selection in June’s Major League Baseball draft. Let’s take a look at how the top prospects performed over the last week. The Pitchers J.B. Bukauskas | RHP | North Carolina Friday night was a big test for J.B. Bukauskas as he took on #7 Virginia. He came through for the Tar Heels with one earned in 6.0 innings. The right hander allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out seven. Bukauskas threw 93 pitches in the game and faced 22 batters before giving the game to the bullpen. He now has a 0.69 ERA in four starts. In his 26.0 innings he’s allowed just 15 hits and five walks to go with 37 strikeouts. Hoos and Heels underway in Chapel Hill. JB Bukauskas freezes Pavin Smith on nice 85 mph slider to end scoreless 1st. He’s 93-96, as usual. pic.twitter.com/A2XPLArJGO — Aaron Fitt (@aaronfitt) March 10, 2017 Alex Faedo | RHP | Florida On Friday night Alex Faedo took the mound against Seton Hall. It was his second worst start of the year, which says a lot about how he’s pitched this spring. Faedo tossed 6.0 shutout innings, allowed five hits and a walk. The right hander added in six strikeouts. For the season he lowered his ERA to 1.37 in 26.1 innings with seven walks and 30 strikeouts. He was reportedly sitting 93-94 in the first inning of this start. Hunter Greene | RHP | Notre Dame HS (CA) It appears that he didn’t pitch last week. With just one game for his high school team, taking place on the 7th. Tanner Houck | RHP | Missouri After two rough starts to begin the year, Tanner Houck has really turned things around in his last two starts. On Friday night he faced off against Appalachian State and had his best start of the year. The righty tossed 8.2 shutout innings with just four hits allowed. Houck had two walks and seven strikeouts in the game. After giving up eight earned in the first two starts he’s tossed 14.2 shutout innings in his last two starts. That’s lowered his ERA to 2.92 on the season. In 24.2 innings he has seven walks and 28 strikeouts this season. Alex Lange | RHP | LSU After having an absolutely terrible start last week against TCU, Alex Lange rebounded in a big way on Friday night. The right hander dominated Wichita State over 8.0 shutout innings. Lange allowed just two hits and walked no one while striking out nine. He threw 96 pitches and lowered his season ERA to 3.05. Brendan McKay | LHP | Louisville After missing a start last week with a minor injury Brendan McKay had his way with Pittsburgh on Friday night. The left hander threw 7.0 shutout innings with just two hits and a walk. He announced his presence with authority, striking out 15 batters in the game on 97 pitches. That lowered his ERA to 1.00 on the season with four walks and 29 strikeouts in 18.0 innings. Brendan McKay was dominant for @UofLBaseball – struck out 15, pitched at 90-93 mph, topped at 94 and threw some outstanding changeups https://t.co/snSgkzW7yE — Frankie Piliere (@FPiliereD1) March 11, 2017 Kyle Wright | RHP | Vanderbilt It was a tough start for Kyle Wright on Friday night against Saint Mary’s. He was touched up for six runs (five earned) in 4.0 innings on 10 hits and a walk. He did strike out seven batters in the game. He’s likely seen his draft stock fall with his slow start to the season. In four starts he has a 5.40 ERA in 20.0 innings with six walks and 24 strikeouts. He’s been very hittable, giving up 24 hits along the way. The Hitters Jeren Kendall | OF | Vanderbilt The week for Jeren Kendall was solid, but unspectacular. He went 5-16 (.313) on the week against Central Arkansas (2 games) and St. Mary’s (3 games). However, he didn’t have an extra-base hit. Kendall did draw more walks, six, than he had strikeouts, four. For the season he’s hitting .284/.395/.552 with 13 walks and 19 strikeouts. Royce Lewis | SS | High School (CA) Royce Lewis got his season underway last week with a double header over the weekend. He went 2-5 with a double and a walk and three stolen bases according to Baseball America. JSerra SS Royce Lewis went 1-for-2 with BB, 2 R, 3 SB in GM 1, then 1-for-3 w/ 2B in GM 2. Lewis is #2 in HS class: https://t.co/uvZIGC5cQW — Baseball America HS (@BAHighSchool) March 11, 2017 Brendan McKay | 1B | Louisville Much like Jaren Kendall, it was a solid but unspectacular week for Brendan McKay at the plate. He went 5-13 (.385) with no extra-base hits. He walked twice, was hit by a pitch and struck out twice. The week really put a dent on his overall season line, which now sits at .548/.621/.905 with 10 walks and six strikeouts. 20 Responses The Duke March 13, 2017 I watched Bukauskas’ entire start. On one of the walks he got jobbed. It should have been strike three with a slider on the inside corner. In his last inning Bukauskas was more 91-94, but every inning before that was 93-96 and he hit 97 several times. He had one K on a very nice changeup, but the changeup was inconsistent on the day. If he could throw the good one I saw consistently, it’d be a plus pitch. I’d definitely say the potential is there for three plus pitches, with the fastball and slider already being plus. I didn’t see Faedo until the 4th,and by then ,he definitely wasn’t throwing 93-94. It was clearly slower than what Bukauskus had been throwing, but I’d give Faedo the edge on overall command, and his changeup was more consistent. If I had to guess (they weren’t showing velo in the ESPNU broadcast) it looked more 90-91 at that point. I saw video of Lewis working an eight pitch walk off of first round draft prospect Hagan Danner. Did a nice job laying off of breaking stuff designed to get hitters to chase and fouled off borderline pitches that he wouldn’t have been able to drive. Hoyce March 13, 2017 1A faedo 1B baukaskas The Duke March 13, 2017 For me: Royce Lewis JB Buskauskas Hunter Greene Alex Faedo Brendan McKay Kap March 13, 2017 Bukauskas is still the front runner in my opinion. Clearly the best arm in the draft despite his height. Having a high floor seems to be apparent because of his skill set. If he is picked by the twins then I would go Lewis Wes March 13, 2017 Lewis Buskauskas Greene McCay McCay the Babe of college ball Arnold Ziffle March 13, 2017 Lewis and Bukauskas are neck and neck at this early juncture. Greene just a whisker behind. The Twins are taking a pitcher at #1. College or HS would be the only question. At #32, if he is still available then, a nice pick would be University of Houston LHSP Seth Romero. A Romero to go with Romano. It might have been Baseball America that had him as their #10 ranked college pitcher. MK March 13, 2017 Still too early. At this point last year there was concern that Senzel had not shown enough early season power. That changed and so could these guys. The Duke March 13, 2017 It’s all in flux, but wild speculation is half the fun of the draft Hoyce March 13, 2017 Totally agree. Ur allowed to change ur mind as more information comes along. Norwood Nate March 13, 2017 Hate to be this guy…but hailing originally from the great state of North Carolina, I must point out that it’s Tar Heels, two words. Funny side story, when I was a kid in the 80’s my dad used to take me to the Greensboro Hornets games. For a couple years they were a Reds minor league affiliate. I think Single A, but my memory is a little hazy. My dad grew up around Athens, OH until high school and was a big Reds fan, partially due to the BRM I’m sure. The local sports channel carried some of the Reds games due to the connection of the farm team. I remember my dad let me stay up to watch Browning’s perfect game as it ended well past my bedtime. So thanks to the Reds being in Greensboro for a bit, I got a cool Reds memory. As far as the draft goes, I’d say Bukauskas, Faedo, Lewis, and Greene are the four I’m paying most attention to (in no particular order). If he’s available, I’d lean toward Lewis for the pick at the current snap shot in time. Doug Gray March 13, 2017 Nate – never hate to be that guy to me. If I’m wrong, please, always tell me. Steve March 13, 2017 Just some corrections fyi. McKay has a 0.50 ERA with 5BB. Also, maybe including leading the NCAA division I in hitting would be appropriate. Go Cards! Louisville only team in top 10 in hitting(3)and ERA(2), largely due to McKay. asinghoff March 13, 2017 Largely due to McKay…..and extremely lightweight schedule to date. Steve March 13, 2017 Regardless, if strength of schedule was such an important factor, they wouldn’t be ranked #1 this week as coaches, sportswriters and others that vote, would recognize that. The Duke March 13, 2017 They are #5 according to D1 Baseball Steve March 13, 2017 Went according to BA top 25 released today Steve March 13, 2017 Louisville also ranked #1 today by NCBWA top 30, Perfect Game top 25 and USA Today Sports Coaches Poll. Jordan Barhorst March 14, 2017 Am I the only one who think McKay would be a perfect fit for the Reds system? The fanbase goes nuts over pitchers who can hit. Guy is (kinda) a local product who is leading the #1 college team in baseball. Get him, sign him, big leagues by 2019. Doug Gray March 14, 2017 Saw something yesterday that said McKay may be more favorable as a hitter at this point over a pitcher and could go in the Top 5. If that’s the case, it’s not for the Reds – he’s a first baseman. AlphaZero March 14, 2017 I know some may disagree, but I’d be perfectly happy with McKay at number 2. He may not have the upside of some of the other guys, but so far, I haven’t seen a college hitter worth taking and I am typically opposed to going the prep route with such a high pick. McKay is just such an interesting and uniquely talented guy. And while he’s considered a “pitchability” lefty, his velocity still sits in the low 90’s regularly. He’s not perfect, but neither are any of the other candidates.