College National Team First Impressions: SPs

USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team conveyed for the first day of practice during the Tournament of Stars and began game action the next day. With the exception of two pitchers who were at the College World Series, every pitcher on the roster threw in the first five games of their Red, White and Blue tour in North Carolina. Here is a snapshot of the first outing for every starting pitcher on the 33-man trial roster that was winnowed to 24 Monday. Another post analyzing the relievers will run shortly.

Players that received an asterisk did not make the roster.

Game 1 vs. Catawba Valley All-Stars

Thomas Eshelman, rhp, Jr., Cal State Fullerton
Thomas Eshelman
Eshelman had a quick, efficient outing in retiring every hitter in three innings, striking out four while getting six swinging strikes. He had what one evaluator termed a “fastball command day from instructs” because he threw only one secondary offering during his outing. Eshelman avoided the middle of the plate and located well to both outer-thirds of the plate with downhill plane, generating four groundouts against one flyout. His fastball largely sat 88-89 mph, touching 90 with sink and varied life to both sides of the plate, with a few 86s and 87s mixed in. Working from the first base side of the rubber, Eshelman offers natural deception and hides the ball well in his delivery with a high glove extension, getting extension out front that helps his fastball play up beyond its pure velocity. The California native showed his typical plus control, throwing 70 percent strikes on the day. He has walked .4 per-nine for his career with a 16.5 strikeout-walk ratio. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Eshelman has an athletic, angular build with a strong lower half and three-pitch mix with his breaking ball and changeup, his lone secondary offering on the day in the low 80s. He is young for the class and won’t be 21 until after the draft.

Justin Garza, rhp, Jr., Cal State Fullerton

Justin GarzaJust like his Cal State Fullerton teammate, Garza did not allow a baserunner in his three innings, striking out seven of the nine hitters he faced on eight swinging strikes in 50 pitches. Garza largely pitched off his fastball, throwing it on 78 percent of his pitches and establishing it early in the count. His fastball sat 91-93 mph and regularly touched 94, primarily locating to his glove side. From a full windup, Garza has quick arm from an arm slot a tick higher than three-quarters, producing a fastball with tail and late giddyup through the zone with some angle. Although he spiked two of the six 77-91 mph changeups he threw, the offering flashed above-average potential with considerable tumble, and he threw the offering to righthanded hitters. His 80-83 mph slider also flashed above-average. Garza showed control in his outing, throwing strikes on 74 percent of his pitches. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Garza has a lean, wiry build with sloped shoulders. He has struck out 7.4 per-nine in his career against 1.49 walks per-nine.

Game 2 vs. Coastal Plain League Select

Andrew Moore, rhp, Jr., Oregon State

Andrew MooreMoore allowed one run in three innings on four hits, but his outfield played a flyout into a double that skewed his line. He struck out three against no walks, garnering five swinging strikes on 49 pitches. Moore showed command and was a strike-thrower from the start, showing the ability to consistently locate his fastball to either side of the plate, throwing 73 percent strikes in the outing. Pitching from the far first base side of the rubber, Moore sat 90-91, touching 92 in his first inning before sitting 88-91 in his next two frames. The 20-year-old, who is young for the class, throws from a high arm slot that is nearly over the top, creating more angle and downhill plane than fastball life, while offering occasional arm-side run. Although Moore is typically a four-pitch pitcher, he largely relied on his pair of breaking balls. He went to his 73-77 mph curveball more frequently than 80-83 mph slider, which he used more against righthaned hitters. Moore varied the shape of his downer curveball that showed at least average potential, varying from 12-6 shape to 11-5 and showing the ability to locate it to both sides of the plate. The 5-foot-11, 184-pound Moore has a medium frame and athletic build. He has a history of throwing strikes (2.2 walks per-nine) and has struck out 5.6 per-nine in his career.

Robert Tyler, rhp, So., Georgia*

Tyler allowed one unearned run in three innings on one hit and struck out two against no walks, garnering three swinging strikes on 32 pitches. Tyler largely pitched off his fastball, throwing the offering more than 90 percent of the time. He has what one evaluator termed “easy cheese” as his fastball sat sat 96-97, touching 98 in his first inning. His fastball sat 94-96 in his second inning and 92-95 in his third frame. The ball jumps out of Tyler’s hand from his high three-quarters arm slot that produces glove-side run. The righthander produced five groundouts against two flyouts. He has a full arm circle and his arm action has length in the back. Tyler’s primary offspeed offering was his mid-80s changeup with significant tumble and bottom. He did not throw a breaking ball in game action. The Georgia native spotted up his fastball well, locating primarily to his glove side and throwing strikes on 75 percent of his pitches. Tyler is young for the 2016 class and turned 19 in the week leading up to joining Team USA. He struck out 7.1 per-nine as a freshman against 2.5 walks. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Tyler has gotten significantly stronger since high school, especially in his lower half.

Game 3 vs. Thomasville

James Kaprielian, rhp, Jr., UCLA

James KaprielianAfter surrendering a home run on his first pitch of the game, a 93-mph fastball on the inner half to a lefthanded hitter, and issuing a five-pitch walk to the second hitter, Kaprielian settled in and threw strikes with his four-pitch mix. Kaprielian allowed one earned run in three innings on two hits, striking out two against one walk while garnering six swinging strikes on 40 pitches, five of which came on fastballs. Kaprielian’s fastball sat 90-92, touching 93 in his first two innings before sitting 88-91 in his third frame. He leverages his fastball downhill with plane and some sink, offering occasional cutting action. The 20-year-old has a plunge out of his glove. He offers a mid-80s slider with short, sharp action and a 78-80 mph curveball that showed at least average potential, flashing better and drawing a few “oohs” from scouts. Kaprielian mixed in a few changeups and showed the ability to throw the offering to righthanded hitters. The rising junior showed athleticism in snaring a one-hopper back up the middle in the third inning. The 6-foot-4, 200 pounder has a large frame and athletic build with room to get stronger. After moving to the rotation as a sophomore, Kaprielian significantly cut his walk rate to 3.0 per-nine against 9.2 strikeouts.

Kyle Funkhouser, rhp, Jr., Louisville
Kyle Funkhouser
Funkhouser worked two scoreless innings, allowing one hit while not issuing a walk, striking out three while getting one swinging strike. His fastball worked at 93-95 mph, touching 96. Working from the far first base side of the rubber, Funkhouser’s delivery offers some deception and natural funk with some effort. His fastball features downhill plane and sink from a three-quarters slot, offering groundball tendencies. The 20-year-old’s main secondary offering is an 81-83 mph slider with bite that offers at least average potential. He mixed in a bigger curveball with 11-5 tilt at 73-76 that he slowed for in his delivery and used against lefthanded hitters. He threw two changeups that he turned over well with significant tumble, flashing at least average. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Funkhouser has a strong, durable build with a physical lower half. Funkhouser, who has walked 4.6 per-nine in his career against 9.1 strikeouts, threw strikes on 64 percent of his pitches and located well to his glove side.

Game 4 vs. Fayetteville

Jake Lemoine, rhp, Jr., Houston
Jake Lemoine
Lemoine worked three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out one on six swinging strikes. Lemoine’s outing resembled Eshelman’s as he threw fastballs on 95 percent of his pitches. His fastball sat 91-92, touching 93 from an easy delivery and quick arm. His heater plays up because of its downhill plane, sink and arm-side run that are likely to produce groundball tendencies. He threw two sliders at 84 and 85, one of which he bounced in a 1-0 count and non-chase situation. Lemoine did not throw a changeup in game action but area scouts say he has good feel for the pitch and identify his slider as a point of developmental emphasis. He only threw fastballs in his final two innings. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Lemoine has a potential workhorse build with an extra-large frame that offers present strength and further room to get stronger. He threw strikes on 59 percent of his pitches and has walked 3.2 per-nine in his career against 6.7 strikeouts.

A.J. Minter, lhp, Jr., Texas A&M

Although Minter has never started a game in his college career, he was worked for a starter’s workload of three innings the first time Team USA went through the pitching rotation. He worked three scoreless innings and did not walk a batter, while striking out two on six swinging strikes. Minter, who pitched exclusively out of the stretch, also employed a fastball-heavy approach, deploying his heater on 85 percent of his pitches. For his first 10 pitches of the outing, all fastballs, Minter’s heater sat 93-95 mph before sitting 90-91, touching 92 in his next 2 1/3 innings. Despite effort to his delivery and a headwhack, Minter consistently worked ahead of hitters, throwing first-pitch strikes to eight of the 10 hitters he faced and putting six hitters in a 0-2 count. He did not throw a breaking ball in the outing, but showed feel for a changeup that some scouts said showed plus potential with considerable bottom. The 6-foot, 210-pound Minter has a strong, physical build without much projection. He has walked 4.1 per-nine in his career against 9.7 strikeouts.

Game 5 vs. Wilson

Trey Killian, rhp, Jr., Arkansas
Killian demonstrated his feel for pitching when he struck out seven against zero walks in three innings of one-run baseball, generating 10 swinging strikes. Using a full windup from the far third base side of the rubber, Killian works fairly easily, though he can throw across his body and fall towards first base. He has a plunge and wrap in the back of his arm action before throwing from a three-quarters arm slot, getting extension out front. Killian’s heater sat 88-91, touching 92. Killian demonstrated the ability to locate his heater to both sides of the plate and threw strikes on more than 75 percent of his pitches. His primary secondary offering was his 82-85 mph slider that offered depth and he mixed in a few low-80s changeups. Killian is a natural strike thrower who has walked 2.1 per-nine in his career against 6.6 strikeouts. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Killian has an athletic, well-proportioned build with long extremities.

Bailey Ober, rhp, So., College Of Charlestown
Bailey Ober
The first-team Freshman All-American allowed one run in three innings, striking out three without walking a hitter. The 6-foot-8, 215-pound Ober has an extra-large frame and long levers. He has a long arm action and a stab in the back, but repeated his delivery. Ober’s fastball sat 88-90 mph, pairing it with a larger, loopier curveball that dipped into the high-60s. He walked 1.6 per-nine this season while striking out 7.2.