2012 draft: Five college players on the rise
This is the third installment in a series about college players who have made major improvements in their games this season and have seen their draft stock soar because of it. The last edition can be seen here.
Chris Stratton, RHP, Mississippi State
Stratton made his presence known in a March 16 match-up against LSU and potential number-one overall pick Kevin Gausman. In a 3-2 loss, in which he took a no-decision, he struck out 17 batters over 8.2 innings, allowing just one run on four hits. His team lost the game, but he won his duel, and also potentially made a lot of money that day. He hasn’t let up since then, going 9-0 on the season with a 2.19 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 101 K/17 BB over 82.1 innings. He has given up just one run in 25 innings over his last three starts, striking out 23 batters to one walk. His 11.1 K/9 and 5.9 K/BB rank among the leaders for starting pitchers, and he ranks fourth in total strikeouts.
Not bad for a guy who came into this season with a 5.25 ERA over 154.1 innings. He attributes his success this season to standing up a little straighter when pitching, the development and control of a slider and two-seam fastball and just being more aggressive on the mound, attacking hitters without fear.
Jeremy Baltz, OF, St. Johns
Baltz gained a lot of attention after hitting .396 as a freshman and leading all first-year players in both home runs (24) and RBI (85). He had a 1.250 OPS and was named first team All-American, as well as Freshman of the Year. He came down to earth a little his sophomore season, hitting .311 with 12 doubles, six home runs, 60 RBI and a .927 OPS over 58 games. His stock started to drop a bit and he came into this season with something to prove. While his power numbers are still down, the 6’-3”, 205-pound right-hander has put together a solid all-around season, and his name is back among the top outfield prospects in the year’s draft. Through 48 games, he is hitting .326 with 10 doubles, five home runs, 43 RBI, 13 stolen bases and a .924 OPS. He has been of the better disciplined hitters in the country as he has drawn 25 walks to just 15 strikeouts on the year. He also is getting hot at the right time, and over his last 11 games, is 20-for-39 (.513) with four doubles, 12 RBI and hasn’t struck out once.
Trenton Moses, 3B, Southeast Missouri State
Moses has played in 48 games this season. He has reached base in every single one of them. In fact, via a hit, walk or hit by pitch, he has reached base 123 times this season for a staggering 2.56 times a game. The 6’-3, 230-pound senior is among the nation’s leaders in several categories, and for the season, is hitting .431 with 52 runs, 12 doubles, 18 home runs, 54 RBI and a .554/.822/1.376 slash line. He has shown a very good approach at the plate, as well, with 33 walks to 30 strikeouts, and has also been hit by a pitch 15 times. The fifth-year starter has taken everyone by surprise by his offensive outburst this season , as coming into this season, he had hit .280 with nine home runs, 65 RBI and a .782 OPS over 128 games.
Nick Petree, RHP, Missouri State
With eight more shutout innings against Air Force on May 4, Petree has now tossed an incredible 64.1 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. He allowed just three hits, struck out a season-high 12 and walked three in the 7-0 victory. On the season, the junior is now 9-2 with a 0.63 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 88 K/26 BB over 85.1 innings. The streak started on March 9 against SIU Edwardsville and has spanned nine starts. As a freshman last season, he set school records for wins and innings pitched as he went 9-2 with a 2.81 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 81 K/27 BB over 96 innings. The streak continues to shatter the previously believed record of 47.2 innings by Todd Helton in 1994 for Tennessee and has now bested the major league record of 59 innings by Orel Hershiser of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988.
Justin Amlung, RHP, Louisville
Amlung continued his impressive season on May 5 when he struck out a season-high 10 batters over eight innings, allowing just one run on two hits. He took a no-decision as the bullpen blew it for him in the ninth and is now 7-3 on the season with a 2.16 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 85 K/17 BB over 83.1 innings for the Cardinals. He is holding opponents to a .184 batting average and his 5 K/BB and 9.2 K/9 ratios show the kind of power/control pitcher he is. The 6’-1”, right-hander was named to the Golden Spikes Award list, the annual award given to the top collegiate player in the nation.