Every week, I will be breaking down the top teams and players in college baseball. Here are the top performers for the week of March 19-26.
Team of the week: Texas A&M Aggies
The Aggies went 3-0 last week, and have now won five straight to move up five spots in the ranking to number eight in the nation. Michael Wacha — a 6’-6” right-handed junior, considered a top-10 pick in the draft — threw a complete game shutout against Pepperdine on March 23. He allowed just two hits, struck out eight and walked none. It was a nice rebound from a disastrous start against Kansas State on March 16 when he gave up eight runs on 11 hits over 5.1 innings in a 15-12 loss. If you take out that one blemish, he has a 0.52 ERA, 0.58 WHIP with 42 K/5 BB over 34.2 innings in his five other starts.
Tyler Naquin, a junior outfielder, went 5-for-12 (.417) for the week with a double, triple and six RBI. The projected first-round pick is now hitting .418 with seven doubles, 22 RBI nine stolen bases and a slash line of .509/.571/1.080 over 24 games.
Freshman of the week: Trea Turner, North Carolina State
Turner, the nation’s leader in stolen bases at 25, had another outstanding week for the Wolfpack. Over five games, he went 6-for-19 (.316) with four runs scored, two RBI and eight stolen bases. The 6’-1”, 170-pound third baseman has yet to be caught stealing on the season and has swiped two or more bases in eight games thus far. Over 22 games, he is hitting .310 with 26 runs scored, 14 RBI, 25 stolen bases and a .426 OBP.
Offensive player of the week: L.J. Mazzilli, Connecticut
Mazzilli flashed his overall talents last week, going 9-for-22 (.409) with three doubles, one triple, two home runs, nine RBI and two stolen bases over five games. He also drew four walks to just one strikeout. The junior second baseman is now hitting .349 over 21 games, with seven doubles, two triples, six home runs, 18 RBI and four stolen bases. His slash line of .407/.699/1.106 is outstanding for a middle infielder and his stock is soaring up draft boards. Having bloodlines will also always help your stock, as his father, Lee Mazzilli, was a 14-year major league veteran, most notably for the Mets.
Pitcher of the week: Pierce Johnson, Missouri State
The 6’-3”, 180-pound senior ran his streak of double-digit strikeout games to four in a complete game shutout against Creighton on March 23. Over nine innings, he allowed five hits, one walk and struck out a season-high 16 batters. He now has 52 strikeouts over his last four starts, spanning 32.1 innings. For the season, he is 2-3, with a 1.94 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and leads the nation in strikeouts with 66 over 46.1 innings.
Other top performers:
Andrew Heaney, Oklahoma State
Last week’s pitcher of the week was again dominating in a 3-2 win over Missouri on March 24. He threw his third straight complete game, striking out 13 batters to no walks, while allowing two runs on seven hits. Over his last three starts, he has gone 27 innings, allowed two runs on 13 hits, while striking out 34 batters to zero walks allowed. The junior left-hander is now 5-1 on the season with a 1.13 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and 65 K/8 BB over 48 innings. He has recorded double-digit strikeouts in four of his six games started.
Brady Rodgers, Arizona State
The big right-hander tossed his third complete game of the season in a 5-1 win 0ver California on March 23. He scattered eight hits, allowing just one run, while striking out six to one walk. He is now 4-0 on the year with a 1.31 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 39 K/6 BB over 48 innings. His average of eight innings per start is something teams are going to love when the draft approaches as it shows the ability to be a workhorse at the next level.
Matthew Reckling, Rice
The senior continued his dominant season as he tossed a three-hit shutout over Memphis on March 23, striking out eight and allowing one walk. The 6’-4”, 220-pound right-hander is now 4-0 on the season with a 1.05 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and 51 K/14 BB over 43 innings. He has baffled hitters all season, allowing just 19 hits, good for a .128 batting-average-against.
Jeremy Baltz, St. John’s
Baltz went 8-for-23 (.347) over five games with a double, triple and six RBI for the Red Storm. After struggling the first week of the season, the junior outfielder is now hitting .315 with four home runs, 19 RBI, eight stolen bases and a .965 OPS over 23 games.
Marcus Stroman, Duke
The 5’-9” right-hander had another impressive outing for the Blue Devils going eight innings, allowing three runs on 10 hits in a 5-3 win over Virginia Tech. He struck out eight while allowing just one walk in picking up the win. On the season, he is now 3-2, with a 2.83 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 60 K/14 BB over 41.1 innings. His 13.1K/9 ranks third in the nation.
Josh Elander, TCU
One of the top catching prospects in the draft, Elander was an RBI machine last week. Over five games, he went 5-for-18 (.278) with two doubles, two stolen bases and nine RBI. He also drew six walks to improve his OBP to .443 on the season. Over 21 games, he is now hitting .347 with 15 RBI and five stolen bases.
Kevin Plawecki, Purdue
Another top catching prospect, Plawecki went 6-for-13 (.462) over three games last week with three doubles, a triple and four RBI. He is now hitting .390 over 20 games, with 12 doubles, three home runs and 23 RBI. The junior is also one of the hardest players to strikeout in college as he has only whiffed twice over 90 plate appearances.
Mark Appel, Stanford
The 6’-5” right-hander just continues to be smooth and effortless on the mound. He went the distance against USC on March 23, picking up his third win of the season in a 4-2 Cardinal win. He gave up two runs on six hits, while striking out seven to two walks. On the season, the projected first-overall pick in the draft is now 3-1, with a 2.93 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 47 K/12 BB over 40 innings. He has also held opponents to a .161 BAA.
Brett Mooneyham, Stanford
The 1-2 punch of Appel and Mooneyham is a big reason why the Cardinal are ranked number-three in the nation at 15-2. The left-hander turned in another impressive outing as he went seven innings, allowing just one run on six hits in a 3-2 win over USC on March 25. He also struck out nine while allowing three walks. He ran his record to 5-0 on the season, with a 2.12 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 46 K/16 BB over 34 innings. His 12.2 K/9 rank him in the top-ten nationally, and he has held opponents to a .177 BAA.
Mike Zunino, Florida
The top catching prospect in the draft continued to rake at the plate as he went 4-for-14 (.286) with two home runs and seven RBI over four games for the top-ranked Gators. He is now hitting .383 with nine home runs, 32 RBI and a slash line of .462/.803/1.264 over 23 games.