The first weekend of D-1 college baseball is in the books and several top prospects saw action in front of dozens of scouts. Keith Law scouted Stanford right-hander Mark Appel Friday night, but it was Appel's bat-wielding teammates who stole the show this weekend.
Third baseman Stephen Piscotty doubled and homered twice in the three-game set versus Vanderbilt, prompting one scouting supervisor to suggest the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Piscotty could hit his way into the top 10 of the draft if he continues to show corner-type power. He's a sound hitter who is learning to use his lower half better and already uses the whole field.
Kenny Diekroger, the Cardinal's shortstop, had a solid set in his own right, collecting five hits in 12 at-bats, but made an error, further displaying why many believe he'll have to move to third base in pro ball, a position he can't play now with the presence of the superior Piscotty.
Piscotty began to turn heads in the Cape Cod League last summer when he won the circuit's batting title and showed an ability to handle offspeed stuff well. "He's maturing into a very nice player," one area scout said after Sunday's contest.
Georgia Southern boasts two intriguing talent in outfielder Victor Roache and right-hander Chris Beck. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Beck was strong in his debut, going six innings and allowing an earned run on three hits and a walk. He struck out eight and threw 53 of 79 pitches for strikes. Beck employs a low-to-mid 90s fastball and slurvy breaking ball to set up a good changeup. If he defines his breaking ball better and throws it with more consistency he could challenge the top 5 come June.
Roache homered twice and drew three walks over the weekend -- albeit versus Tennessee-Martin -- showing why he's considered the best raw power bat in the draft class. Pitchers figured him out late last summer on the Cape and threw him a steady diet of breaking balls. The report on Roach is that he's pull happy and commits early, though some scouts have seen an improved approach and a few mechanical adjustments that may help. It will be interesting to see how Roache is valued come draft day, especially since he'll face so little upper echelon pitching during the regular season.
Arms of note
• San Francisco right-hander Kyle Zimmer tossed three shutout frames topping out at 98 mph and showing a good curveball-changeup mix. Zimmer stands 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds and could solidify himself as a first rounder with a more consistency changeup.
• Georgia Bulldogs southpaw Alex Wood, a Tommy John surgery recipient three years ago, appears to be fully recovered, control and all, after fanning seven in six strong innings Friday night. Wood is projectable at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds and uses a hard curveball as his out pitch.
• Texas A&M right-hander Michael Wacha struck out eight over 5 2/3 innings, allowing just one hit while walking three. Wacha is a potential first-round pick with a low-90s fastball and changeup. He lacks a breaking ball that projects as big-league useful, however, but he toyed with a cutter-slider over the summer.
• Kevin Gausman of LSU, the top draft-eligible sophomore in the class, whiffed seven over six innings, but wasn't sharp, tossing two wild pitches and walking two batters versus Air Force. The right-hander is athletic and offers a plus fastball, but it's the movement that makes the pitch such a weapon. He shows consistent arm speed on his offspeed stuff, but was a bit rusty Friday night. He's still among the top few college starters and has a shot at the top 10.
On the offensive
• Florida catcher Michael Zunino had a fairly quiet weekend, going 5-for-12 -- all singles -- with four strikeouts. He's a potential top-10 pick and those drafting in the top five are certain to keep an eye on him all spring. Zunino could be an average defensive catcher with a plus bat, which carries tons of value in Major League Baseball.
• Arizona State shortstop Devin Marrero also had a ho-hum opening series, collecting three singles and a walk, but continued to show why he's the top shortstop in the draft making more-than routine plays appear boring.
• Wacha's teammate Tyler Naquin, an athletic defender playing right field for the Aggies -- he may be able to play center, but Krey Bratsen, a plus defender in center field, is manning the position in College Station -- had a strong weekend, going 6-for-11 with two doubles, three walks and three stolen bases. He's a potential Day 1 pick, but scouts want to see him get stronger.
• Potential sleeper Matt Reynolds, a third baseman at the University of Arkansas with experience at shortstop, went 8-for-14 in his first three games, though all but one went for a single. He has power but has made some adjustments to help him make consistent contact.