The first weekend of Division I college baseball produced some news regarding top draft prospects. A quick rundown:
• Preseason All-American Pedro Alvarez, the consensus (but not unanimous) top prospect for the 2008 draft, missed two games with a wrist injury. We’ll have more on Alvarez and his status for this week soon.
• Arizona righthander Ryan Perry (pictured at right) will be watched closely this spring after showing one of the best arms in the Cape Cod League last summer, and he had a typically enigmatic 2008 regular-season debut. Perry missed most of last season as he recovered from a motorcycle injury, and he entered his junior season with a 6.85 career ERA in 68 1/3 innings. His performance this weekend at Georgia was middling, as he gave up four runs in 5 1/3 innings, but his fastball sat in the 94-96 mph range, much as it did last summer in the Cape. Perry wasn’t the hardest thrower in Athens on the weekend, as Georgia closer Josh Fields, the top senior draft prospect in the country, touched 97.
• Another hard thrower got off to a better start, as Pepperdine’s Brett Hunter sat at 94-97 mph with his fastball, hitting 97 with his 100th pitch. He struck out six and gave up just two runs and four hits in six innings–with preseason All-American Allen Dykstra accounting for three of the hits–to get a victory against Wake Forest in his opener. Another power righty on the West Coast who got off to a strong start was Long Beach State closer Bryan Shaw, sitting at 93-95 mph with his fastball in getting a save Saturday against Rice. He was wrapping up for Dirtbags ace Andrew Leibel, who struck out 11 in eight scoreless innings, showcasing a low-90s fastball that confounded Owls hitters.
• UCLA lefthander Tim Murphy has upside but also has a volatile draft stock, as he is fairly new to pitching full-time (he was a two-way player his first two seasons) and didn’t pitch last summer. He’s flashed above-average velocity for a lefty (92-93 mph) in the past with a plus curveball, but his stuff wasn’t quite at its best when he pitched against Oklahoma this weekend, sitting at 87-92 mph with his fastball, with modest movement. His curve did show sharp break. Bruins teammate Brandon Crawford was less effective, going 0-for-8 on the weekend at the plate with three strikeouts in 10 plate appearances.
• UPDATE: Missouri righthander Aaron Crow threw well in beating Connecticut, sitting at 94 mph with his fastball and commanding all his pitches well in a five-inning effort that included seven strikeouts and no walks. He did give up six hits and a run in earning the victory.
• Michigan junior righthander Zach Putnam did not pitch this weekend because of shoulder tenderness.
As more information from the weekend trickles in, we’ll update the blog. To get updates on top college draft prospects e-mailed to you weekly, you can click here for Baseball America’s College Update.
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