Louisville Walks-Off Irish On Way To Doubleheader Sweep

Louisville used solid starting pitching performances and timely hitting to sweep Friday’s doubleheader against Notre Dame and clinch the series.  While the opener was a back and forth nail biter that offered many thrills, it was MLB draft prospect Nick Solak who stole the show in dramatic fashion with a walk-off 11th inning home run.

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College Prospect Roundup: Week 3

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Louisville’s Kyle Funkhouser bounced back nicely with a 12 strikeout performance on Friday, after a rough pair of starts to open the season.

By: Burke Granger

After lackluster starts against SIU Edwardsville (5IP, 7H, 2R, 4BB, 3K) and Ole Miss (3.2IP, 3H, 6R, 7BB, 6K), Louisville’s Kyle Funkhouser settled down this week in what was his best start of the season.  Against Princeton on Friday night, Funkhouser was dominant, allowing just 4 hits while striking out 12 over 7 innings in route to his second win of the season.  Perhaps most importantly, Funkhouser, who has a career 4.37 bb/9 ratio, allowed just one walk in the contest.

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2016 MLB Draft Scouting Report: Alec Hansen

By Burke Granger

Alec Hansen – RHP – Oklahoma.  6’7″ 235.  Class: Junior.  DOB: October 10, 1994.  Last Drafted:  2013 – Colorado (25th Round).

Scouted:  The University of Oklahoma @ West Virginia University on 4/18/2015.

In 2013, the same year the Colorado Rockies popped flame throwing righthander Jonathan Gray from the University of Oklahoma at #3 overall, they selected Hansen from nearby Loveland (Colo.) High School in the 25th Round.  Baseball America ranked Hansen as top draft prospect in the state of Colorado that year and the 136th best overall prospect.  The Rockies were unable to dissuade Hansen from his college commitment, so it was onward to Norman.

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2015 MLB Draft Non-Scouting Report: Thomas Eshelman – RHP – Cal State Fullerton

By Burke Granger

2015 MLB Draft Prospect: Thomas Eshelman – RHP – Cal State Fullerton.  6’3” 210.  Class:  Junior. DOB: 6.20.94. Last Drafted:  None.  

SCOUTED:  Cal State Fullerton @ Indiana 3.14.15

Eshelman burst onto the scene as a freshman when he won 12 games and he had a streak of 63.1 innings without issuing a walk.  Premium control has been Eshelman’s calling card throughout his career at Fullerton as he’s posted obscene 0.44 BB/9 and 17.33 K/BB ratios.

Given that level of consistent strike throwing combined with questions around whether some of the top college arms will start or relieve, it’s not surprising that Eshelman has some late helium in the hours leading up to the draft.
 
Statistics *through 6.7.15
YEAR
CLASS
W-L
ERA
G
S
IP
H
K
BB
2013
Fr. 
12-3
1.48
17
0
115.2
86
83
3
2014
So. 
8-3
1.89
16
0
123.2
100
99
8
2015
Jr.
8-5
1.59
17
0
130.1
101
130
7
It’s important to note that I’m not a scout.  I don’t have the training or expertise that they do.  I do go to the games see these guys play live, and while there, I talk to scouts.  That’s more than you’ll find in some other so called “Scouting Reports” online.  Also, while scouts reserve their thoughts on a player for their employer, I can share my thoughts with you, the reader.
REPERTOIRE:
Fastball:  Eshelman sits at just 88-91 mph with his fastball and it’s pretty straight, but he doesn’t get hit hard because he doesn’t make many mistakes.  He pounds the lower limits of the zone with this pitch.
Curveball:  I saw an average pitch – 75-76 mph with great command.
Changeup:  Eshelman throws his changeup at 79-80 mph with confidence in any count and is able to keep the pitch down.
DELIVERY
Prior to this season, Eshelman’s delivery used to have an exaggerated pause which he has since abandoned.  There aren’t a lot of wasted motions left, and his release and follow through aren’t particularly taxing.  He could stand to push off the mound more which could lead to more velocity.
FUTURE
Eshelman has been in the third round discussion for most of the season, and while he still might end up there, I’m seeing his name come up more often in the supplemental round and even the back half of the first round in some of the later industry mock drafts.  Command is typically the last thing to develop in a pitching prospect, but Eshleman already has it.  Projected as a back end starter, his ceiling isn’t particularly high, but in a draft with more uncertainty around the top tier arms than usual, Eshelman’s high floor is appealing.

2015 MLB Draft Non-Scouting Report: Dansby Swanson – SS – Vanderbilt

by Burke Granger

MLB Draft Prospect: Dansby Swanson – SS – Vanderbilt. Bats: R Throws: R – 6’1″ 190.  Born: 2.11.1994.  Previously Drafted: 2012 – Colorado (38th Round).  
A 4.0 student at Marietta (Ga.) High School and teammate of 2010 first round pick Chevy Clarke (Anaheim), Swanson was considered a tough sign and slid to the 38th round of the 2012 draft, where he was selected by the Colorado Rockies.
As a freshman in 2013, foot and shoulder injuries limited Swanson to just 11 games and 16 ABs.
Swanson won the starting second base job for the Commodores in 2014 and would go on to be named the Most Outstanding Player in the College World Series, while leading Vanderbilt to the first national championship in school history.

 

SCOUTED
Vanderbilt @ Kentucky – May 1-3, 2015
STATISTICS (as of 6/4/15)
YEAR
AVE
OBP
SLG
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
K
SB/ATT
2013
0.188
0.435
0.250
1
0
0
1
4
5
1/2
2014
0.333
0.411
0.475
27
2
3
34
37
49
22/27
2015
0.348
0.443
0.656
22
6
14
61
42
43
15/17

It’s important to note that I’m not a scout.  I don’t have the knowledge or training that they have.  I do go get live looks at these players and I talk to scouts.  While scouts typically reserve their reports for their employer, I can share my thoughts on the player with you, the reader.  How lucky are you?

HITTING – Swanson should hit for a high average thanks to a compact swing and an above average eye at the plate.  Swanson has shown good patience at the plate, walking in 13.2% of his career plate appearances.  Swanson owns a career K% of 15.4%, and while that would be above average as a professional, it’s higher than one would expect from the projected #1 overall pick.
POWER – Though he has hit 14 HR this season including 5 so far in this post-season, Swanson has just average power and projects to be more of a doubles hitter as a professional.
SPEED – An owner of above average speed, Swanson gets out of the box well from the right side and gets enough good jumps on the base paths to steal 38 bases in 45 attempts for his career.
ARM – Swanson’s arm was a question mark coming out of high school and entering this season after his transition from second base.  This season he’s made enough plays in the hole to his right to silence his critics and prove that the arm is at least solid average.
DEFENSE – First step quickness, soft hands, and a strong accurate arm make Swanson an above average shortstop and a good bet to stick at the position as a professional.
FUTURE – Swanson is projected to go #1 overall next week and won’t make it out of the top 3 picks.  Swanson’s greatest strength is his lack of weaknesses.  In a draft class lacking cathedral ceiling players, Swanson’s safe tools and exceptional leadership qualities make him an appealing prospect.

2015 MLB Draft Non-Scouting Report: Kyle Funkhouser – RHP – Louisville

 

by Burke Granger

2015 MLB Draft Prospect: Kyle Funkhouser – RHP – Louisville. 6’3″ 225. Class: Junior. DOB: 3.16.94. Last Drafted: Never
Regarded as the 360th best draft prospect in the 2012 Draft by Baseball America as a prep star in Oak Forest, Ill., 30 minutes south of Chicago, Funkhouser went undrafted and followed through on his commitment to Louisville.
While working primarily in relief as a freshman, Funkhouser still managed 6 starts that season and accounted for Louisville’s only shutout that season (against Villanova).  Funkhouser got his first taste of Omaha as a freshman, but it wouldn’t be his last.  The Cardinals 2013 trip to the College World Series was their first since 2007.  While Louisville went two and out in 2013, Funkhouser saw relief action in an 11-4 loss to Oregon State putting together a 2.1IP, 2H 0R, 0ER, 2BB, 4K line.
The Cardinals would return to Omaha in 2014, this time with Funkhouser as their ace.  Though cruising to a 13-3, 1.95 ERA season with a K/9 of 9.15, the Funkhouser and the Cardinals were still ousted in two consecutive games in Omaha.  Starting the opening game against eventual champion Vanderbilt, Funkhouser’s final line was 6IP 6H 4R 4ER 6BB 5K, taking the loss.
While still effective in this, his junior season, Funkhouser has not been the same pitcher he was last season.  In observing Funkhouser, I was impressed by the stuff, easy velocity, and a sharp breaking ball, but the command was definitely off.  Fastballs were left up in the zone and curveballs were bounced.  My hunch is that the cold was effecting Funkahouser’s grip early in the season, as he hit 5 batters in a three start stretch from 2/20-3/6.
While Funkhouser has cut his BB/9 rate from 4.86 in 2014 to 3.84 in 2015, his H/9 has jumped from 6.36 to 7.87.
Statistics *through 5.27.15
YEAR
CLASS
W-L
ERA
G
S
IP
H
K
BB
2013
Fr.  5-1
2.14
22
1
54.2
43
55
25
2014
So.  13-3
1.94
18
0
120.1
85
122
65
2015
Jr. 7-5
3.29
15
0
98.1
86
93
42
It’s important to note that getting one live look at a player doesn’t provide nearly enough information to produce a true scouting report, but that’s not going to stop me from reporting what I saw anyway.  It’s also important to note that I’m not a scout.  I don’t have the knowledge or training that they have.  I do however talk to scouts, and while scouts typically reserve their reports for their employer, I can share my thoughts on the player with you, the reader.
REPERTOIRE: 
Fastball: Funkhouser sat 90-91 mph for the first few innings, but once he loosened up on this cold February day, he worked at 93-94 mph in the middle innings.  On this particular day, the pitch was straight and often left up in the zone.
Slider:  Often used as his out pitch against right handed batters, Funkhouser’s slider is sharp with late break at 81-82 mph.  While hosting Xavier and several times while I’ve seen Funkhouser on TV, he hasn’t shown a tendency to throw a breaking ball for a strike earlier in the count.
Changeup: Funkhouser didn’t throw, nor did he need many changeups against Xavier. The few times he did throw it, he held the pitch too long, missing his release point and causing the pitch to skip.
DELIVERY
Funkhouser does a good job of repeating his delivery so I don’t believe that’s the cause of his shaky command.  I chalk this up to a release point issue.  The grip could be the underlying cause, which isn’t uncommon for pitchers in cold weather environments.  For a big man, Funkhouser fields his position well.  From the stretch, he’s in the 1.25-1.35 second range to home plate which shouldn’t make him particularly susceptible to teams running on him.
FUTURE

 

Funkhouser entered the year as top 5 overall prospect with potential to go #1 overall.  That appears to be out of the question now, despite many any his preseason peers going down with injury.  While Funkhouser hasn’t taken the step forward many have hoped, he’s still near certain first round selection with a chance to go as high as 8 to the White Sox, his childhood favorite team.  I see Funkhouser as a mid rotation innings eater and a safe bet to be a major leaguer.