College Baseball Week Seven Standouts: Paul Skenes Delivers In Front Of Record-Setting Crowd

Image credit: Paul Skenes (Mike Janes/Four Seam)

With conference play heating up, players around the country rose to the occasion on some of the biggest stages college baseball has to offer. From lights-out performances in front of record-setting crowds to impressive weekends at the plate, this was another fantastic week across the country. 

Paul Skenes, RHP, Louisiana State

In what was the most anticipated pitching matchup of the entire season, Skenes faced off against Tennessee’s Chase Dollander in front of a record-setting crowd of over 13,000 at Alex Box Stadium on Thursday night. As he has been all season, Skenes was dominant with his full arsenal of above-average or better pitches. Against a loaded Tennessee lineup, the 6-foot-6 righthander allowed just one earned run across seven innings pitched and collected 12 strikeouts while walking one. His fastball sat in the 97-100 mph range for the entirety of his outing and topped out at 101. Skenes’ slider was lethal all night, a pitch which generated eight swings and misses. He manipulated its shape well, as it took on a true sweeper look against righthanded hitters, with more vertical movement against lefthanded hitters. He threw it just 12 times, but his changeup also flashed plus when he threw it with sharp, late fade. Skenes further cemented himself as the clear No. 1 pitcher in this year’s draft and now has a 5-0 record with a minuscule 0.81 ERA to go along with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 83-to-8 across 44.1 innings pitched. 

Parker Smith, RHP, Rice

Smith has quietly put together one of the most impressive seasons across all of college baseball and turned in his best outing of the season on Friday night against Florida Atlantic. The 6-foot-4 righthander nearly went the distance, throwing 8.2 innings of shutout baseball with nine strikeouts, zero walks and seven hits allowed—all of which were singles. Smith will run his fastball as high as 96 mph but will sit comfortably in the 91-94 mph range. He supplements his fastball with a solid changeup-slider combination, each of which gets its fair share of swings and misses. Smith now has a 1.73 ERA on the season with 41 strikeouts to 10 walks in 41.2 innings pitched. 

Juaron Watts-Brown, RHP, Oklahoma State

Watts-Brown couldn’t have picked a better time for the best outing of his 2023 campaign, as on Saturday he put on an absolute show against Texas and snapped its 16-game win streak in the process. He threw eight spectacular innings in which he collected 12 strikeouts, allowed one earned run and gave up only three hits. Watts-Brown had his entire arsenal working on Saturday afternoon, but primarily threw his low-to-mid-90s fastball and plus slider. He also mixed in a curveball and turned over a few changeups, but his slider, as it has been his entire college career, was the star of the show. It’s a pitch Watts-Brown will throw to both righthanded and lefthanded hitters and it has plenty of two-plane break and generates tons of swings and misses. Across 41.1 innings pitched, Watts-Brown has a 2.61 ERA with 67 strikeouts to 17 innings pitched. He is one of the most talented collegiate arms in this year’s draft and could hear his name called in the first two rounds. 

Trey Yesavage, RHP, East Carolina

Yesavage continued his outstanding 2023 campaign with another great outing, this one coming against Houston. The physical righthander threw six innings and struck out 13, walked two, allowed two earned runs and surrendered just three hits. It was his third straight outing in which he registered double-digit strikeouts, a feat he has accomplished in four of his last five starts. He ran his heavy fastball up to 98 mph and mixed in a plus slider with sharp two-plane movement. Yesavage attacks hitters from a near over-the-top arm slot and gets ample extension down the mound. He is quickly establishing himself as one of the premier arms in the 2024 draft class and now has a 2.08 ERA this spring with 67 strikeouts to 10 walks in 43.1 innings pitched. 

Isaiah Coupet, LHP, Ohio State

After a hiccup last week against Indiana, Coupet returned to form against Minnesota with seven shutout innings, 10 strikeouts and just five hits allowed. Coupet will sit in the upper 80s to low 90s with his fastball, but thanks to some deception in his delivery it is a pitch that plays up. His calling card is a wipeout slider, a pitch that has a miss rate over 50% this spring. Coupet has also seen his changeup improve greatly over the course of his Ohio State career and although it is a pitch he throws less than 10% of the time, it has a chance to become a plus offering down the road. Coupet now has a 4.03 ERA with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 42-to-9 across 29 innings pitched.

Jack Hurley, OF, Virginia Tech

Hurley had the best week of his season so far, as he went 11-for-20 with five home runs and 11 RBIs across four games played. Three of his home runs came against Virginia, including a two-home run performance in Sunday’s rubber match. Hurley has elite bat speed and the ability to drive the ball with authority to all fields. After a slow start, the junior outfielder has flipped a switch in the last couple of weeks and is now hitting .346 and leads the Hokies in doubles (10), home runs (11) and RBIs (33). His continued production will go a long way in helping Virginia Tech claw itself back into the ACC race. 

Matt Shaw, SS, Maryland

In the last two weeks, Shaw has seen his offensive output increase dramatically and is one of the key reasons as to why Maryland has won seven of its last nine games. Last week the premier 2023 draft prospect went 8-for-15 (.533) with one triple, two home runs and 10 RBIs across four games. On Friday afternoon he went 4-for-4 with two home runs, one of which traveled 507 feet according to Trackman. Shaw is a bit more upright in his stance this spring with the bat laying flatter across his back shoulder. He has thunderous bat speed that has led to plenty of high-quality contact. Shaw has a mature approach at the plate with advanced pitch-recognition skills and is also an above-average runner. He is now hitting .349 on the season with nine doubles, 10 home runs and 30 RBIs across 26 games played and could hear his name called within the first 30 picks of this year’s draft. 

Tommy Troy, 2B, Stanford

After missing some time with a foot injury, Troy has returned with a vengeance and strung together an 11-for-21 week (.524) across five games played. Most notably, he went 7-for-10 in the final two games of the Cardinal’s series at Oklahoma with two doubles, a triple and a home run. Troy has an incredibly whippy swing at the plate thanks to elite hand speed and utilizes a slight barrel tip as a trigger before his barrel accelerates through the zone. Troy consistently generates back spin on the ball and has a gap-to-gap approach with above-average raw power. After this past week, Troy is now hitting .413 with seven doubles, three triples, three home runs and 18 RBIs across 19 games played. He has also walked (13) more than he has struck out (10) while going 10-for-10 in stolen base attempts. 

Ethan Mann, IF, Dallas Baptist

The New Mexico State transfer enjoyed a stellar week in which he went 7-for-15 (.467) with four home runs, one double and 12 RBIs across four games played. Mann’s best performance of the week came in Sunday’s rubber match victory over Louisiana Tech as he went 4-for-5, blasted three home runs and drove in six runs. Mann had been enjoying a modest season up to that point, but after last week he is hitting .291 and leads Dallas Baptist in home runs (9) and RBIs (32). The Patriots are seeking their ninth consecutive tournament berth and sustained production from veterans like Mann will go a long way in achieving that goal. 

Ramon Jimenez, 1B, Central Connecticut State

After four years at Boston College, Jimenez opted to use his final year of eligibility at Central Connecticut State. He is currently enjoying the best year of his collegiate career and is coming off the best week of his career as well. The physical 6-foot-3, 225-pound Jimenez went 7-for-14 (.500) with four doubles, one home run and 11 RBIs. While that alone makes for a great week, Jimenez went 6-for-6 with four doubles, a home run and 11 RBIs on Friday. Jimenez leads the team in average (.406), doubles (8) and RBIs (27), and is a huge reason for its 14-5 overall record and 11-1 conference record. 

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