We've reached the month of May, one of my favorite months of the year as the MLB Draft and college baseball playoffs are in the crosshairs and will be here before you know it. I also turn 21 in ten days so that should be a good time. I'll finally get to have a beer at an Orioles game this summer, that is if I can make it into the stadium before a riot breaks out at a 7-11.
This week, we give two low-major prospects who had big weekend performances some love in the players of the week section. LSU remains the top Tigers in the land, but a hot-streaking Illinois ballclub could sneak up on them if the Fighting Illini keep winning.
Here are the weekend highlights...
Leaders In The Atlantic: No. 2 Louisville - I don't think this is changing. The Cardinals have been relentlessly dominant in their first go-round in the ACC, posting a 20-3 conference record.
Your Weekly Funkhouser Update: Potential Top Five pick Kyle Funkhouser suffered a rare loss over the weekend, allowing five earned run to Clemson in a 9-1 loss.
Leaders In The Coastal: No. 13 Miami (FL) - I think that's the first time I've remembered to make the Florida distinction in this column. Anyway, the Hurricanes wept Pittsburgh over the weekend to improve their conference record to 19-8.
Stock Down: Remember when No. 27 Virginia was the top ranked team in the country? Yep, the Cavaliers are just 10-14 in ACC play after a series loss to NC State over the weekend.
Prospect Note: The good news for the Cavaliers is Joe McCarthy returned the lineup a couple weeks ago. He'll look to re-establish his draft stock as a top 3 rounds prospect and should inject some life into the lineup.
(Big Ten Highlights)
Hot Streakin: No. 7 Illinois continues to make national headlines with their school record 21 game winning streak and counting. The Illini are 40-6-1 overall, good for the best winning percentage in the country. They sit comfortably in 1st place of the Big Ten with a 16-1 record.
Tyler Jay Update: Still an absolute beast in the closer role for the Ilini (2nd in the nation with 0.73 ERA in 49.1 IP). Many like him as a potential mid-first rounder due to growing belief in his nasty three-pitch mix will allow him to start in pro ball.
Stock Up: No. 20 Iowa continues to receive so little hype for the amazing season they are having due to Ilinois doing crazy things like winning 21 consecutive games. Don't sleep on the Hawkeyes who picked up a series win over Michigan State and sit just 2 games behind Illinois with a 15-3 Big Ten record.
Stock Down: No. 28 Maryland could be endangered of losing their spot in the polls for the first time all season if they drop another series. Indiana picked up a big sweep of the Terps over the weekend, improving their bubble resume.
(Big 12 Highlights)
Sweeper of the Week: No. 3 TCU moved into 1st place (13-5) in the Big 12 and 1st place in your hearts over the weekend with a road sweep of West Virginia.
Pitcher Spotlight: Do you like to participate in the herd mentality of late that UVA lefty Nate Kirby isn't all he was hyped up to be in the pre-season? Are you looking for another pitcher to make an argument for as college baseball's best lefty? I may have someone for you...
Meet TCU lefty Alex Young. Young anchors the Horned Frogs rotation and has put up excellent numbers on the season (1.46 ERA in 68 IP, 46 H, 17 BB, 68, .190 AVG). He tossed 8 shutout innings on Sunday with 8 K's.
In State Showdown: No. 11 Oklahoma State wins bragging rights this time around with a series win over Oklahoma.
Your National ERA Leader: Still Corey Taylor, right-handed reliever from No. 25 Texas Tech who has allowed just two earned runs in 50 innings pitched (0.35 ERA).
(Big West Highlights)
We have a three-way tie for first place in the Big West among No. 6 UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, and Cal State Fullerton. Irvine and Fullerton are the traditional dominant powers of this conference but something tells me - maybe, their top ten ranking - Santa Barbara will be standing alone in a couple weeks.
Pitching Juggernaut: No. 6 UC Santa Barbara now carries the best Team ERA in the nation at 2.07. Staff ace and potential top five pick Dillon Tate has played a big role as one would expect (1.63 ERA in 82.2 IP, 47 H, 22 BB, 84 K).
Road Warriors: UC Irvine got a break from conference play this weekend but didn't miss a beat on the road with a sweep at Minnesota.
Stock Up: Cal State Fullerton was simply dominant in their road sweep of UC Riverside, outscoring the opponent by a 35-4 score. Top draft prospect Thomas Eshelman and his plus-plus command turned in a walk-less outing as per usual (7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K).
Stock Up: Radford - The Big South race took an interesting turn this weekend as Radford, winners of 9-of-10, entered a 1st place tie with No. 26 Coastal Carolina and Liberty. The Highlanders scored 48 runs in their weekend sweep of James Madison. Good lord.
Emerging 2016 Draft Prospect - Kyle Lewis - CF - Mercer - Here's a name you'll want to file away for next year. Lewis went 7-for-13 at the plate with 3 HR over the weekend and the talented sophomore is hitting .403/.448/.707 in 181 AB on the season with 13 HR.
No-No Alert: Norfolk State has a lefty named Devin Hemmerich and he tossed a no-hitter this weekend against hapless Coppin State. He walked just one while striking out 10.
Here's a Baseball America article profiling two of the top DII prospects in the 2015 draft: Tanner Rainey - RHP - West Alabama and Austin Allen - C - Florida Tech.
Your National Home Run Leader: Meet Kyle Nolwin, center fielder for Eastern Kentucky. Dude dropped a trifecta of bomb's in Sunday's 16-13 loss to Jacksonville State, taking over the national lead with 17 on the season.
Making A Statement: No. 29 California handed No. 16 Arizona State their first conference series loss of the 2015 season. Hide your honey, because the Bears are making their presence known.
Best In The West: Still No. 5 UCLA, who won their series with Gonzaga over the weekend. The Bruins carry a 2.20 Team ERA, good for 2nd best in the nation.
Milestone Alert: David Berg, dominant closer for UCLA, set the all-time appearances record over the weekend with 162 appearances and counting during his 4-year stay with the Bruins.
No. 1 LSU remains the team to beat following a series win at Mississippi State. The Tigers are batting .319 as a team, good for 3rd in the nation.
Sweeper of the Week: No. 4 Texas A&M moved into a 1st place tie in the West with LSU after sweeping Tennessee on the road this weekend.
Entering the Polls: Once again, someone gains at my Gamecocks expense (sighs). Let's talk about No. 30 Auburn who makes their poll debut following a big road series win here in Columbia.
Senior Spotlight: I've talked about him before in a separate post, but Gamecocks first baseman Kyle Martin continued his outstanding senior season with a 2 HR, 7 RBI performance in Friday's 10-1 win. He's now batting .349/.453/.633 with 11 homers, 33 walks, 21 strikeouts in 213 PA and has also nabbed 8-of-9 bases. I think he's solidified himself as a candidate go in the Top 10 Rounds, perhaps as early as Round 5 a team is sold on his defensive versatility.
(Photo By: Army Athletics)
Pitcher of the Week: Alex Robinett - RHP - Army
Wow, just wow. Robinett turned in the most dominant outing of the college baseball season this weekend. Are you ready for this stat line? 9 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 21 K. That's right. He set a service academy record with 21 strikeouts against Air Force, the most strikeouts recorded in a baseball game since Stephen Strasburg struck out 23 in 2008, according to this article. He's not the second coming of Strasburg, but as one might imagine, Robinett is a 2015 MLB Draft Prospect.
He entered the season as the No. 2 ranked prospect in the Patriot League, according to Baseball America. The 6'0, 190 pound Senior works in the low-90's with his fastball and has a pair of average breaking balls that he commands well. He finished his season with a 6-5 record with a 2.05 ERA in 80.2 IP, 55 H, 16 BB, 92 K, and a .194 opponent AVG. Without his service obligations, Robinett would likely garner potential top ten round interest as a polished senior with solid-average stuff. He will still likely hear his name called at some point late in the draft and it will be interesting to see if he's able to pursue a pro career down the road after he completes his service requirements.
(Photo By: David Cohen - BHEphotos)
Hitter of the Week: Chad De La Guerra - 2B - Grand Canyon
This week, we head out to one of the seven wonders of the world to profile an intriguing senior draft prospect some consider the top hitting prospect in the WAC. Why? Because he was named a national player of the week following this performance at the plate (11-for-23 at the plate with 3 HR and 9 RBI). On the season, De La Guera has belted 10 home runs and posted a .323/.375/.525 over 186 AB.
He stands in at a compact 5'10", 190 pounds and should hit for solid-average pop at the next level. He's a good defender at second base and has enough speed to swipe a few bases. There's some loft in his swing and he sometimes sells out for power with a pull oriented approach. There's some question whether his hit tool is strong enough for advanced levels of professional ball but he has an intriguing enough bat for a second baseman that he could be a sleeper in the 10 - 15 Rounds where I project he'll come off the board.