Week eight of the 2014 college baseball is in the books, and there were some incredible pitching performances. One in particular, from a kid who will be a big name for the 2015 MLB draft, was Nathan Kirby of Virginia (no relation). The 6’-2” southpaw fanned 18 in a no-hitter against Pittsburgh on Friday night in the best individual performance of the year. As for the 2014 MLB draft, here are 10 players who impressed and are rising up draft boards because of it:
A.J. Reed, LHP/1B, Kentucky
Reed had himself quite the weekend. He tossed seven scoreless in a win against Florida on April 5 and also went 8-for-12 with two doubles, three home runs and six RBI in three games. The 6’-4”, 240 pound southpaw is the best two-way player in college and the front-runner for National Player of the Year. Over 32 games, he is hitting .377/.507/.781 with eight doubles, 12 home runs and 39 RBI — ranking among the leaders in every category. On the mound, he is now 6-1 with a 1.93 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 32 K/16 BB over 56 innings. Despite his huge power potential, he may have more upside as a left-handed power arm as he can hit the mid-90s with his fastball. Shouldn’t last past the second round.
Ben Wetzler, LHP, Oregon State
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Wetzler continues to pitch like he has the biggest chip ever on his shoulder. The 6’-1” southpaw tossed a complete game against Stanford on April 5, allowing one unearned run on four hits. He is now 6-0 with a 0.38 ERA, 0.62 WHIP and 35 K/13 BB over 47 innings. He is holding opponents to a silly .106 batting average. His fastball sits in the 89-91 mph range and he adds a slider and change-up — both quality offerings. He attacks hitters and mixes his pitches well, commanding all three.
Kyle Freeland, LHP, Evansville
Freeland was brilliant against Charlotte on April 5. He made bats miss all day with his stuff and was placing the ball anywhere he wanted as he continues to show amazing control from a power arm. He struck out 15 to one walk over nine innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He now has 60 K/4 BB over 49 innings this season, and if you add his totals from the Cape Cod League over the summer, he has 108 K/8 BB over his last 89 innings. With a plus slider and low/mid-90s fastball, he has a lot of upside due to his size (6′-4″, 180 pounds), present stuff from the left side and easy delivery. He is a near lock for the first round and could go top-20.
Jeff Hoffman, RHP, East Carolina
Hoffman showed why he was in talks for the first-overall pick before the season started. In a big match-up against RHP Zech Lemond and Rice on April 5, Hoffman allowed one run over eight innings, striking out seven to one walk. Kendall Rogers at Perfect Game noted that Hoffman was sitting 95-97 mph with his fastball — in the eighth inning! The 6’-4” right-hander has an incredibly smooth delivery with minimal effort. He adds a plus slurve and his change-up also flashes plus, sitting 86-88 mph. If he continues to pitch like he did on Friday, he should be back in the mix for first-overall.
Aaron Nola, RHP, LSU
Nola continues to be the best pitcher in college this season. In his last start, he tossed eight scoreless against Mississippi State, striking out 10 to two walks. He now has a 0.47 ERA, 0.67 WHIP and 71 K/11 BB over 57 innings, holding opponents to a .141 batting average. The 6’-1” right-hander has incredible command of his stuff and has been showing more swing-and-miss stuff this season as his 11.2 K/9 ratio ranks among the best in the nation. With all of the hard-throwing arms in this draft, Nola may go lower than he should.
Chris Oliver, RHP, Arkansas
Oliver shut down a potent South Carolina offense on April 6, striking out 10 to two walks over eight shutout innings, allowing four hits in a 7-0 win. He now has a 1.99 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 35 K/11 BB over 45.1 innings, holding opponents to a .213 batting average. At 6’-4” and 185 pounds, the right-hander can touch 97 mph with his fastball and adds a mid-80s power slider. He worked out of the bullpen his first two years so the arm is fresh and there is a lot of upside. Probably won’t last past the second round.
Sam Travis, 1B/OF, Indiana
Over his last 10 games, Travis has gone 21-for-45 (.467) with five doubles, two home runs and 12 RBI as Indiana has gone 8-2. He is now hitting .378/.444/.523 over 27 games with eight doubles, two home runs and 11 walks to just 11 strikeouts, showing his strong approach at the plate. The 6’-0”, 210 right-hander is one of the better hitters in the 2014 MLB draft but will have to continue to show home-run power if he is going to remain at first base at the next level. Shouldn’t last past the third round and could go higher if teams believe in the power.
Connor Joe, 1B/C/OF, San Diego
Joe has gone 13-for-20 (.650) with four doubles, a triple and four walks during San Diego’s current five-game winning streak. For the season, he is now hitting .394/.487/.622 over 31 games with 10 doubles, five home runs, 30 RBI and 19 walks to 19 strikeouts. He can play all over the field, including behind the plate, where he is still new but shows a lot of promise. In a class weak on catching prospects, he could benefit as his power potential is great, along with his approach at the plate.
Seth Harrison, OF, Louisiana-Lafayette
During the Ragin’ Cajuns recent six-game winning streak, Harrison has gone 12-for-24 (.500) with five doubles, two home runs and 14 RBI. The 6’-0”, 200 pound senior is now hitting .373/.406/.698 over 33 games with 11 doubles, three triples, eight home runs and 37 RBI for the fourth ranked team in the nation. He is a round three through 10 type of guy — a player who a team can sign for value. He has some swing-and-miss to his game but he has a lot of pop and can play all three outfield positions due to his athleticism.
Erick Fedde, RHP, UNLV
In a big match-up against Fresno State and potential first-round pick Jordan Brink on April 5, Fedde was masterful. A near lock for the first round himself, the 6’-4” right-hander struck out 11 to one walk over seven shutout innings in picking up the win. He now has a 1.74 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 61 K/16 BB over 57 innings, holding opponents to a .191 batting average without allowing a home run this season. The 6’-4” right-hander features a plus slider, a fastball that can touch the mid-90s and a hard sinker. He has top-10 stuff.
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