Tuesday, March 29, 2011

College Pitchers - 2011 Draft - First look

Pitchers are posting amazing numbers in college this year.  That makes evaluating pitchers a job that will truly belong to the scouts, as it should. However, for us fans, we are getting an eyeful of amazing statistics.  Let's run down some of the ERAs and, in parentheses, K/IP of this year's top college pitching prospects who are draft eligible:

Matt Barnes, Connecticutt 0.99 (0.9)
Taylor Jungmann, Texas 0.52 (0.82)
Matt Purke, Texas Christian 1.17 (1.3, only 23 ip so far)
Trevor Bauer, UCLA 1.13 (1.5)
Gerrit Cole, UCLA 2.31 (1.2)
Sonny Gray, Vanderbilt 1.51 (1.4)
Danny Hultzen, Virginia 1.12 (1.8)
Tyler Anderson, Oregon 1.02 (1.3)
John Stilson, Texas A&M 1.05 (1.1)

and this doesn't even count the command and control guys or guys who are shooting up the draft lists.  There are a helluva a lot of guys with ERAs under 2 who are Friday/Saturday starters who are not highly ranked.

It is very likely that one of the nine guys listed above will be the Indians first round draft pick.  The new bats may have a lot to do with the low ERAs although Stilson's ERA was 0.80 last year facing the more juiced bats.

I think college hitters may be taking more of a contact-first approach this year as they know the power isn't in the bats anymore.  This makes some of the K-rates, especially Hultzen's and Bauer's pretty impressive. 

Still, overall, the ERAs, although it is early, are really impressive since, in 2010, only one pitcher who would have been considered a Friday or Saturday (i.e., best two starters on their college team) starting pitcher (pitched more than 80 innings), had an ERA of under 2.00.

While I can't tell anymore how good those ERAs really are, it is impressive that this number of blue chip pitchers are still pitching so effectively.

This could be the year when a record is set for most college starting pitchers drafted in the top 30 picks of the draft.  Looking at previous years, most years 7-to-9 D-I college pitchers are taken, with the range being 7-12 looking from 2010-2002.  About 90% of those guys were starters in college meaning that somewhere between 6 and 11 of those college pitchers were starters. 

This year we could easily surpass 11 college starting pitchers taken in the top 30 picks as teams with multiple first round picks may be looking at safer, second tier college pitchers with their extra picks.  I am too tired to see what the record is for starting college pitchers being taken in the first round but my sense is that this record may be in jeopardy.

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