MALIBU, Calif.—We've written this spring about San Francisco righthander Kyle Zimmer and Duke righty Marcus Stroman establishing themselves as strong candidates to be drafted inside the top 10 picks. Stanford's Mark Appel and Louisiana State's Kevin Gausman projected as top 10 picks in our preseason Top 100 draft prospects list, and both remain top candidates to be drafted first overall.
In recent weeks, Texas A&M junior righty Michael Wacha has generated more and more buzz as another candidate for the top pick, just as Zimmer has. After allowing nine runs on 11 hits against Kansas State last week, Wacha bounced back in overpowering fashion, allowing just two hits in a complete-game shutout at Pepperdine, as the Aggies won 4-0 on Friday.
Wacha carried a perfect game into the eighth inning and struck out Tony Cooper to lead off the eighth—but a passed ball and an errant throw to first allowed Cooper to reach second base, ending the perfect game bid. The next batter, Aaron Brown, broke up the no-hit bid with a comebacker off Wacha's glove. The Waves loaded the bases with two outs, but Wacha escaped by inducing a pop-up to center, then worked a 1-2-3 ninth to end it. He finished with eight strikeouts and no walks, improving to 4-0, 1.84 on the season.
Wacha's stuff was downright electric. He sat in the 92-94 range early, topping out at 95-96 in the second. He held his 90-93 velocity into the ninth, and his last pitch of the day was a 92 mph fastball. As usual, Wacha's plus-plus changeup was a major weapon against both lefthanded hitters and righties. He threw it in the 83-86 mph range, and he got a number of swing-and-misses with it thanks to its hard tumbling action. He also recorded a strikeout in the second inning with his 81-83 slider, which he mixed in a handful of times throughout the game against righties. In the middle innings, he started throwing a 75-76 curveball for strikes early in counts.
At 6-foot-6, Wacha works downhill from a high arm slot. He got ahead in counts throughout his outing and worked very fast.
"He doesn't even give you time to breathe," one scout said. "Every pitch is in the zone."
I spoke with Wacha and Aggies coach Rob Childress after the game, and I'll have more on Wacha early next week on the College Page.