The first weekend of the college baseball season is officially in the books, and quite a shocking time it was. TCU managed to lose all three games to top-ten bound Mississippi, preseason College World Series favorite San Diego was swept by cross-town rival San Diego State, at home no less, and a bevy of aces had terrible 2013 debuts. Without further ado, let’s get to it…and see whose stock is rising and whose is falling.
Kent Emanuel, LHP, North Carolina
The top pitcher on the top team in the land, Emanuel was firing on all cylinders to open the 2013 campaign. The lefty needed just 106 pitches to finish off a complete game shutout (1-0) of Seton Hall. He allowed a mere four hits and struck out five. And in true Emanuel fashion, he did not issue a single walk. Emanuel doesn’t get much love in scouting circles, despite having excellent size (6-4, 225) and the advantage of being a lefty. Mostly, scouts tend to focus on his lack of velocity, earning him the moniker “crafty lefty.” Either way, if he keeps up this kind of production throughout the season, he’ll find a home towards the top of the draft.
Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego
Not many people would have predicted that a powerhouse San Diego squad, one loaded with two potential first-round picks, would have been swept by rival San Diego State during the first weekend series of the year. Even fewer would have prognosticated that Bryant’s bat would have gone silent during the three-game set. Bryant mustered only two hits during the series, which is exactly the same number of errors he made at the hot corner. Coming into the season as the top projected position player from the college ranks, this isn’t the kind of way anyone expected him to start. Still, it’s a long season, and Bryant has a solid track record, meaning barring a catastrophic collapse he’ll still end up as a top-ten selection come June.
JaCoby Jones, 2B, LSU
Jones came to LSU with high expectations, expectations that he rose even higher with a stellar freshman campaign (.338, 32 RBI, 12 SB). He fell on hard times last year, hitting a paltry .253 with only four homers and 11 steals. LSU’s stunning loss to Stony Brook in last year’s Super Regional had a lot to do with Jones’ disappearing act. Still, Jones possesses some pretty impressive tools, each of which was on display during opening weekend. The hulking (6-3, 200 lb) second baseman went 4-for-9 with two homers, three RBI and six runs scored. He also posted a 6:3 BB:K ratio. If Jones can slug 15-18 homer this season, while still showcasing his speed he could find his way into first-round consideration.
Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford/Jonathan Crawford, RHP, Florida/Dylan Covey, RHP, San Diego
The greatest strength of the 2013 draft crop is without a doubt the college pitching. Stanford’s Mark Appel, Florida’s Jonathon Crawford and San Diego’s Dylan Covey represent three of the top arms from the college ranks, and sadly, all three underwhelmed in the season debut. Appel, a first-round pick in last year’s draft, came back to Stanford in an effort to prove he’s the true number one pick in this year’s, was hit hard, giving up seven hits and five runs (two earned). He walked three, hit a batter and tossed a wild pitch in five inconsistent innings. Crawford, who threw a no-hitter in last year’s NCAA Regionals, lasted only 3.2 innings, surrendering two runs on three hits. He also hit a batter and served up a long ball to Jordan Betts, who owned a sub-.250 career average and four home runs in his two years at Duke. The worst debut, however, belonged to Covey, another once-upon-a-time first-rounder. Covey lasted three innings, giving up six runs (five earned) on eight hits. He too hit a batter and gave up three doubles. It’s just one start for each of these guys, but the early returns aren’t that impressive.