2013 MLB Draft: College Games to Watch 3/22-3/24
By Jeff Ellis
March 22, 2013
The big match up of the week ranking-wise is #5 Florida State vs. #11 Georgia Tech. Both teams enter the week at 5-1, and while they play in opposite division's of the ACC, this matchup is still important. While this might be the top rankings match up it doesn't have the big prospect names that would make the scouts want to rush out and see it.
The biggest prospects are on the Georgia Tech side. The two biggest names are senior pitcher Buck Farmer and first baseman/outfielder Daniel Palka. Farmer should be very familiar to college and draft fans. His fall out of the top ten rounds last year was one of the more surprising stories of last year's draft to me. He wound up being picked by the Brewers in the 15th round and decided to return for his senior year.
Arguably the better prospect on his team is Palka who has been a consistent hitter for the Yellow jackets over the last two years. So consistent in fact that his freshman year numbers are almost identical to his sophomore year numbers, with one change stat wise: he managed to cut down his strike outs by 30% which is always a welcomed sign showing maturation in a hitter. On the Florida State side of the ball the biggest draft eligible prospect is senior shortstop Justin Gonzales, who is also out for the year following hip surgery.
By my count Georgia Tech could have double digit players drafted this year, so while this game lacks the wow factor of having a projected first rounder, it is a interesting game for more than just the teams' rankings. Any game where you can see this many possible selections is something to catch.
The game I am most intrigued to check in on is when #16 Arkansas plays number #6 South Carolina. The Razorbacks are a team that is absolutely loaded with talent, but the main reason for me comes down to one player, Ryne Stanek.
Stanek came into the season viewed as a sure top five pick, but this seems unlikely now thanks to inconsistent play. It has gotten so bad, that Stanek was moved out of the coveted Friday slot. His stock has tumbled a bit, but if he can rebound there is little doubt he could reestablish his top five pick value. I am very intrigued to follow this series, just to see if Stanek can start to turn it around or if he wilts under this added pressure.
There are more reasons than just Stanek to watch this game. Colby Suggs has some of the best stuff of any reliever in this draft, yet he has also struggled with the same inconsistencies that have plagued Stanek. He is returning from injury so his struggles are more understandable. On top of them both Randal Fant and Jacob Morris were top 20 round picks by the Indians last year, so this is definently a school with a heavy draft influence.
South Carolina on the other hand has been a team that has won without top draft prospects the last few years. The player who was the model for this to me will always be Michael Roth who was the ace of their staff the previous three seasons, before signing with the Angels as a 9th round selection after last year's draft.
The guy I am most intrigued to watch is a reliever on South Carolina named Tyler Webb. He was absolutely dominant last year with an era under two and a K/9 over nine. If he can continue to put up numbers like that he will make some teams have to take a deeper look. He stands 6'6" inches and while he does not throw super hard, just being a big lefty will get attention. Teams can never have enough left handed pitchers, and Webb's track record and big game experience should see him drafted higher than the 48th round where he was drafted by the Reds in 2011.
The third match up that really gets my attention is #18 Oklahoma vs. TCU. The reason is somewhat similar to the previous match up. Once again there is one player that I really want to see, but this time it's because the player is excelling and flying up draft boards. On the other side TCU is making a big switch this weekend, which also caught my attention.
Jonathan Gray is the story of the of the draft season. He had been drafted twice before but no one expected what he has shown this year. He has been sitting in the high 90's and hitting triple digits this year. He is now in the top three on every board I see, and at this point it's an event every time he pitches. Every week has been a check back to see if he is maintaining that velocity and thus far he has. I view a Gray start as a can't miss event at this point. In a draft which was viewed as a weaker one, a player establishing himself as a top player is a story and something every team at the top has to love.
Before the season began the top draft prospect on Oklahoma was Dillon Overton. He is viewed as a possible first round selection. He is a left handed pitcher, and kind of fits the crafty lefty build. He is not big, throws in the low 90's, and hits his spots. He seems ticketed to go at the end of the first round to me, as there is always a safe lefty or two who goes at the back of the first. The other Oklahoma player I am interested in is Juco transfer Billy Waltrip, who was drafted by the Orioles in the 12th round last year but decided to go to Oklahoma. He is a guy who with a good year could be in the first tne rounds.
Texas Christian is a team also loaded up with draft talent. The big name for them is starting pitcher Andrew Mitchell. Mitchell has been viewed as a possible first rounder this year, and put up solid numbers last year. Mitchell has actually spent this season in the bullpen, so this will be his first start of the year when he toes the rubber on Sunday. Mitchell has one of the best curves in the country, but has struggled with inconsistency his whole career. I am very curious to see how he will respond after this shake up. This is a big chance for him to try and overcome his inconsistencies and see if he can get back into first round consideration.
These are the three weekend series' I will be following, and even though it's early in the season I think there is an interesting story to each of these games, especially from the draft enthusiast perspective.
Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffmlbdraft, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Miss St has LHP Jacob Lindgren going tonight. He's not a big guy but he misses bats. C T Bradford is a former '10 Tribe Draftee with a good all-around game.
These are two teams that are going to battle for the SEC crown. Fun game.