2014 MLB draft: 10 college players on the rise — week 7

Week seven of the 2014 college baseball season has come and gone and it is, once again, time to look back on who has been impressing lately. Here are 10 players who have been heating up at the plate or dealing on the mound as of late:

Michael Katz has been demolishing the baseball this season.
Michael Katz has been demolishing the baseball this season.

Michael Katz, 1B, William & Mary

For those who follow me on Twitter, I feel the need to apologize for all of the Michael Katz tweets lately, but what he has been doing this season is something I have not seen in a while. Over his last 10 games, he has gone 27-for-44 (.614) with six doubles, eight home runs and an insane 33 RBI. He has drawn six walks and has struck out just once for a 1.975 OPS. The 6’-3”, 220 pound right-hander now leads the nation in home runs (13), RBI (52), total bases (97), SLG (.874) and OPS (1.366). He has done all of that damage in just 25 games. I’m not exactly sure where he stands in the draft because first baseman don’t get a lot of love, but his numbers, size and power can’t be overlooked.

Luke Weaver, RHP, Florida State

Weaver tossed a one-hit shutout against Boston College on March 28, striking out four to two walks. Reports are he wasn’t as sharp as he has been, with his fastball down a tick. Again, he tossed a one-hit shutout. He now has a 2.53 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 38 K/11 BB over 46.1 innings. The 6’-2” right-hander flashes a plus change-up and his fastball sits low/mid 90s. He is a likely first-round pick in the 2014 MLB draft, and there is still projection left as he matures.

Matt Imhof, LHP, Cal Poly

I don’t know what else to say about Imhof. He has made this list several times already, and he just seems to keep getting better each time out. On Friday against UC Davis, he tossed a four-hit shutout, striking out 13 to no walks. It was his fourth start this season with at least 13 strikeouts, and he now leads the nation in total strikeouts with 77 and K/9 with 13.5. Over 51.2 innings, he has a 1.05 ERA, 0.83 WHIP while holding opponents to a .168 batting average. At 6’-5” and 220 pounds, the southpaw sits 89-92 mph with his fastball and he knows how to mix his pitches well. Few can miss bats the way he does.

Sam Travis, 1B/OF, Indiana

Travis has been heating up lately, going 17-for-36 (.472) over his last eight games with four doubles and two stolen bases. Over 25 games, he is now hitting .373/.440/.461 and has drawn 11 walks to just 10 strikeouts, showing a great approach at the plate. He has yet to hit a home run, however, after hitting 10 as a sophomore and nine as a freshman. At 6’-1” and 210 pounds, he has power, it just hasn’t shown up this year. As good a hitter as he is, he will have to show more home run pop if he wants to remain at first base at the next level.

Sean Newcomb, LHP, Hartford

A day after I released my latest mock draft, Newcomb went out and tossed seven no-hit innings, making me wish I had placed him higher. He added eight strikeouts to four walks and has yet to allow an earned run over his first 39.2 innings this season. He has allowed just 14 hits, holding opponents to a miniscule .111 batting average and has 46 K/19 BB for a 10.5 K/9 ratio. At 6’-5” and 240 pounds, the southpaw can touch 98 mph and adds a potential plus slider. His command has been the only knock on him this year, but when you haven’t allowed a run all year, that’s just nitpicking.

Skyler Ewing, C/1B, Rice

One of the biggest surprises of the season, Ewing has come out of nowhere to become one of the best hitters for the 13th ranked team in the nation. After hitting just .226/.347/.342 over 57 games as a sophomore, he has been tearing the cover off the ball this year. During his current nine-game hit streak, he is hitting .394/.500/.727 with five doubles, two home runs, 11 RBI and has drawn seven walks. For the season, the 6’-1”, 220 pound right-hander is now hitting .336/.404/.521 with seven doubles, five home runs and has drawn 17 walks to 20 strikeouts. He may end up at first base at the next level, but he also holds his own behind the plate.

Dylan Davis, OF, Oregon State

Over his last five games, Davis has seemed to find his stroke this season. He has gone 10-for-22 (.455) with three doubles, a home run, 10 RBI and two walks. After leading the team with a .335 average as a sophomore with 22 doubles, five home runs and 61 RBI over 63 games, He started the season a bit slow. He is now up to .308/.385/.462 with seven doubles, three home runs and 32 RBI over 27 games this season. At 6’-1” and 215 pounds, the right-hander has good power to all fields and a solid approach at the plate as he has drawn 14 walks to 18 strikeouts this season. He also has a canon arm and is used out of the bullpen for the Beavers.

Joey Pankake, 3B, South Carolina

Pankake made the list last week, and he makes it again after stretching his hit streak to 13 games. During the streak, he has gone 23-for-52 (.442) with four doubles, two homes and five walks for a 1.135 OPS. At 6’-1” and 200 pounds, he has the arm, footwork and instincts to remain at the hot corner and is showing the bat to stick there, as well. He has excellent bat speed and an advanced approach at the plate as he has struck out just eight times this season. For the year, he is now hitting .344/.421/.490 over 25 games with five doubles and three home runs.

Jake Stinnett, RHP, Maryland

Not sure if anyone has opposed better starting pitchers than Stinnett has this season. In his last four starts, he has matched-up against Clemson’s Daniel Gossett, North Carolina State’s Carlos Rodon, North Carolina’s Trent Thornton and Florida State’s Luke Weaver. Those teams have pretty good offenses, too. He out-pitched Rodon, striking out 14 to one walk over eight shutout innings and tossed a no-hitter against Massachusetts on March 1, striking out nine to two walks. For the year, he has a 2.16 ERA, 0.74 WHIP and 57 K/10 BB over 50 innings, holding opponents to a .149 batting average. The 6’-4”, 215pound right-hander split time as a starter/closer for the Terps last season and is the Friday night starter this year. His fastball can touch 95 mph and sits 90-93, and he adds a slider and change-up — both quality offerings. He has been able to maintain velocity deep into games and he has great control of his stuff. He has a fresh arm since he played mostly third base as a freshman.

Nick Burdi, RHP, Louisville

Let’s give a closer some love. Burdi hasn’t gotten a lot of chances this season for 10th-ranked Louisville as they have been blowing out a lot of opponents this season. When he does get work, however, he has been dealing. Over 10.1 innings, he has yet to allow a run on five hits — all singles. He has struck out 19 to three walks and has four saves. The 6’-4”, 215 pound right-hander carries two plus pitches with him — a fastball that can touch 100 mph and a filthy, 88-91 mph slider that completely baffles hitters who are waiting on his fastball. He had 62  strikeouts over 35.2 innings as a sophomore for a 15.7 K/9 ratio.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter @DanMKirby for 2014 MLB draft updates, high school and college news, as well as Chicago Cubs ramblings.

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