Another week, another couple of injuries to some top arms. This week it was Virginia LHP Nathan Kirby who will be sidelined 6-8 weeks with a lat strain. UC Santa Barbara RHP Dillon Tate, who some think is the best pitcher available in the 2015 MLB draft, also was sidelined with a strained lat, although it is nowhere near as severe as Kirby’s. Even so, the injuries continue to pile up in a draft that is going to be interesting, to say the least. In this week’s risers, I talk about a top prospect coming back from back surgery, a couple of power arms that could be dominant closers at the next level and a kid who continues to put up video game numbers. Here are 10 players who have impressed this week:
Joe McCarthy, OF, Virginia
It was great to see McCarthy back on the field after missing 10 weeks with back surgery. The 6’-3”, 215 pound left-hander went 5-for-7 over his first two games and has drawn eight walks over his first six games as Virginia has gone 5-1 since his return. A terrific athlete with above-average speed, he was a first-round candidate before the injury. As a sophomore, he hit .301/.417/.449 over 69 games, helping lead the Cavaliers to within one game of a College World Series title. He added 16 doubles, six home runs, 11 stolen bases and 35 walks to 34 strikeouts. He has thrust himself back into first-round talks already.
Blake Trahan, SS, Louisiana-Lafayette
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Over his last five games, Trahan has gone 8-for-16 with two doubles and four walks. The 5’-10”, 185 pound right-hander is now hitting .375/.492/.493 with 13 doubles, a home run and 28 walks to just 13 strikeouts over 40 games, showing an advanced approach at the plate. He has a shot to stick at shortstop and, while he may not hit for much power, he can hit the gaps and should hit for a high average. He helped lead the Ragin’ Cajuns to within one game of the College World Series last season by hitting .355/.455/.465 over 68 games with 44 walks to 37 strikeouts and 15 stolen bases.
D.J. Stewart, OF, Florida State
Stewart doesn’t get much to hit, but when he does, he usually takes his frustrations out on the baseball. He went 5-for-15 over his last five games with a double, home run and seven more walks to bring his national-leading total up to 48. He is now hitting .309/.510/596 through 42 games with seven doubles and 10 home runs. The 6’-0”, 240 pound left-handed hitter obviously has a mature, patient approach, and he adds some immense power from the left side. He is a good athlete for his size and should be able to hold down a corner outfield spot. Some have him out of the first round — I believe he goes on day one.
Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt
Fulmer continues to dominate his opponents with a mid-90s plus fastball, a plus slider and an above-average change-up. In his last start against South Carolina on April 16, he struck out nine to one walk over seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits. On the season, he now has a 1.69 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 90 K/24 BB over 64 innings, holding opponents to a .185 BAA. His 12.7 K/9 ranks at the top. The only knocks on him continue to be the effort in his delivery and his height (6’-0”, 190) but he has been as consistent as anyone available in the 2015 MLB draft and could go top-10 if teams believe he can remain a starter.
Kyle Dowdy, RHP, Houston
On April 3 against Memphis, Dowdy didn’t get out of the first inning, allowing seven runs on five hits through two thirds of an inning. In his two starts since then, he has allowed one run over 16.1 innings, striking out 23 to one walk, including a two-hit shutout on April 18 in which he struck out 13 to no walks. The 6’-2”, 205 pound right-hander is a red-shirt junior who sat out last season due to Tommy John surgery. He features a low-90s fastball, above-average breaking stuff and has shown great command this season. He is now 5-1 with a 2.83 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 38 K/9 BB over 47.2 innings.
Tyler Jay, LHP, Illinois
If you take out Jay’s appearance on March 22 against South Florida in which he gave up three runs on five hits over three innings, his season stat line would look like this:
37 IP 0 ER 14 H 44 K/3 BB
That is Kimbrel-esque and Jay has shown the ability to be a lights-out closer at the next level if he sticks in his current role. The 6’-1”, 185 pound southpaw can touch 97 mph and sits 93-95. He adds a nasty change-up and plus curveball, giving him a three-pitch mix that have some believing he could be a starter at the next level. He did get in one start this season and tossed five shutout innings, striking out six to no walks. Even as a closer, however, he has first-round potential.
Alex Young, LHP, TCU
Pitchers are getting hurt left and right this spring but Young continues to be one of the most consistent arms available. The 6’-3”, 200 pound southpaw has a relatively fresh arm as he worked out of the bullpen his first two years with the Frogs. He has handled the move to the starting role effortlessly and has a 1.67 ERA, 0.91 WHIP with 56 K/12 BB over 54 innings through nine starts. He features a four-pitch mix headlined by a low-90s fastball with life and a 77-82 mph slider that flashes plus. He adds a solid 80-83 curveball with depth and a developing change-up.
Donnie Dewees, OF, North Florida
I included Dewees in last week’s risers and all he did was go 14-for-25 (.560) with two home runs, 10 RBI and five walks over six games since. The 6’-0”, 185 pound left-handed hitter continues to put up the gaudiest numbers in college baseball this spring as he is now hitting a silly .423/.483/.764 over 44 games with nine doubles, seven triples, 13 home runs, 56 RBI and 23 walks to just nine strikeouts. He has added 19 stolen bases and is among the national leaders in nearly every offensive category. He has a track record of hitting and he might not make it out of the second round as of now.
Kevin Newman, SS, Arizona
Newman is rising as fast as any college bat in this draft. He has a real shot to stick at a shortstop and play solid defense, and he should be a top-of-the-order type hitter with good speed. Through 37 games, he is hitting .370/.417/.481 with 12 doubles, a home run and 12 walks to just nine strikeouts, showing an aggressive approach yet not missing many pitches. He has added 13 stolen bases. He may not hit for a lot of power at the next level but he has a high floor at a premium position.
Matt Rose, 3B, Georgia State
Rose has some of the best power in the 2015 MLB draft and has been displaying it all season. He went 7-for-13 with three doubles and three home runs over his last three games and his 14 home runs are tied for the most in the country. The 6’-4”, 200 pound right-hander is now up to .333/.435/.738 with 13 doubles, 14 home runs and 23 walks to 29 strikeouts, showing major improvements in his approach. Right-handed power is always in high demand, and Rose has a chance to go on day one, especially if teams believe he can stick at the hot corner.
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