Andrew Miller (photo courtesy of Dave Sanford)
Possible Early Round Pitchers
The pitching is better than the hitting, and it seems likely that most of the early college picks will come from the mound. Although depth is better, there are no obvious Mark Prior-super-stud types around this year. Which doesn't mean that an excellent pitcher won't come out of this class, of course. Here are some good candidates to go in the first round.
Andrew Miller, LHP, University of North Carolina
Power lefty is 8-0, 1.33 in nine starts so far, with a 66/18 K/BB ratio in 61 innings, allowing 41 hits. His command has been erratic at times, but in general he's lived up to expectations and is still a candidate to go number one overall to Kansas City. If the Royals don't take him, I doubt he will make it past slot five. Fastball can hit the mid-90s and he continues to refine his secondary pitches and improve his control.
Brad Lincoln, RHP, University of Houston
An impressive spring is moving him up the charts rapidly, and he could go in the first five picks. Now 8-1, 1.78 ERA with a 98/20 K/BB in 81 innings, with only 57 hits allowed. K/IP and H/IP are excellent. Lincoln throws hard and is more athletic than most pitchers. He posted a very good K/BB ratio last year but a 4.76 ERA: this year his ERA has come down to more closely match the component ratios.
Tim Lincecum, RHP, University of Washington
1.48 ERA, 8-2 in 11 starts, with a 129/41 K/BB in 79 innings, allowing only 36 hits. K/IP and H/IP are off-the-charts, reflecting the velocity and movement on his 95 MPH fastball and big curve. His control is not always reliable, and he is a smallish guy, standing 6-0, leading to some worries about durability and injury risk. He has eaten innings like potato chips in college. Can he do this as a pro?
Max Scherzer, RHP, University of Missouri
Considered a possible number one pick pre-season, but his stock has slipped a bit due to injuries, erratic control, and his perceived bonus demands. Has a 2.67 ERA in six starts with a 36/10 K/BB in 34 innings. His innings have been limited this spring due to biceps tendonitis, although he has pitched well when on the mound. Could still go very high if he is healthy down the stretch.
Brandon Morrow, RHP, University of California
7-0, 1.67 in 10 starts, with a 76/34 K/BB in 70 innings, only 46 hits allowed. Having a fine season although his control remains inconsistent, granted it doesn't hurt him much in college since he is tough to hit. Can hit the upper-90s with his fastball, but is still learning how to pitch. Excellent potential but may need longer to develop than some college guys.
Ian Kennedy, RHP, USC
Considered a "safe" pick entering '06, though his stock has dropped somewhat. 3.63 ERA with a 71/21 K/BB in 69 innings don't look as impressive as what some of these other guys have done, but that's actually very good considering the offense-heavy nature of the USC context. . .the team ERA is 4.50 and that of their opponents is 6.23. Still, Kennedy hasn't been as sharp as he was last year, and he doesn't have as much pure stuff as guys like Miller, Scherzer, or Morrow.
Joba Chamberlain (photo courtesy of Dave Sanford)
Joba Chamberlain, RHP, University of Nebraska
Like fellow Big 12 pitching ace Scherzer, Joba "The Hutt" Chamberlain has had injury troubles this spring, missing time with a sore right triceps. His stuff hasn't been quite as good as it was in 2005, and at one point this spring, his fastball dipped into the 86-88 range, compared to the 92-95 MPH pitch he showed in '05. When healthy he has overpowering stuff. Chamberlain is 5-2, 2.76 with a 48/18 K/BB in 42 innings.
Other Names: Blair Erikson, RHP, UC Irvine; Josh Butler, RHP, University of San Diego; Dallas Buck, RHP, Oregon State University