College Baseball Week Six Standouts: Dylan Crews Delivers, Rhett Lowder Spins Gem

Image credit: Rhett Lowder (Photo by Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

This past week was a big one for those who love power, as the headliners of this week’s piece all slugged multiple home runs. There were also plenty of fantastic pitching performances, including one SEC arm who went punch-for-punch with the top-ranked starting pitcher in this year’s draft class. 

Kris Armstrong, 3B, Jacksonville

Prior to arriving at Jacksonville, the fifth-year third baseman had a nice four-year career at Florida highlighted by a 2021 season in which he hit .289 with nine doubles, eight home runs and 30 RBIs. In 26 games played this spring, Armstrong is already having the best season of his career and shows no signs of slowing down. Last week he went 13-for-21 with eight home runs and an absurd 24 RBIs in five games played. Armstrong had multi-home run performances in three of his five games played, including back-to-back games in which he hit three. He is now hitting .358 this spring with 16 home runs (second most in the country) and 46 RBIs (first in the country).

Parker Noland, 1B, Vanderbilt

The senior first baseman had the best week of his Vanderbilt career, going 8-for-15 with three home runs and 14 RBIs. Noland’s gaudy stat line was due in large part to his historical performance in the opening game of this past weekend’s series in which he went 5-for-6 with two home runs (both grand slams) and 11 RBIs. His 11 RBIs set a program record for the most in a single game. Noland is now hitting .290 this spring with 24 RBIs and has nearly matched his RBI total from last spring (26) in half as many games played. His five home runs have him sitting just three home runs shy of a new career high.

Dylan Crews, OF, Louisiana State

Crews came into the 2023 season with arguably the most buzz surrounding a single player and was widely viewed as the No. 1 overall draft prospect. The junior center fielder has lived up to his lofty expectations and then some, as he is hitting .531 through 24 games played with 10 doubles, nine home runs, 32 RBIs and 26 walks to 12 strikeouts. His on-base percentage is a sky-high .658 as well, and he’s currently riding a 22-game hit streak. Last week Crews went 10-for-16 across four games played, including three against Arkansas, and blasted a home run in each contest. Crews has extremely strong wrists and double-plus bat speed at the plate. His swing decisions and approach are incredibly advanced, and he consistently generates some of the most quality contact in the country. Crews’ play to this point has only bolstered his resume to be selected first overall in July’s draft. 

Jac Caglianone, 1B, Florida

It is becoming harder and harder to put into words what the superstar sophomore is doing, and last week was no different: Caglianone went 11-for-18 with four home runs and eight RBIs. Caglianone is now sitting at 17 home runs on the season, a total that is good for first in the country. He homered in three of the four games last week, including a multi-home run performance in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader against Ole Miss, and in Tuesday’s midweek game against Florida State he went 4-for-5 with three RBIs. At 6-foot-5, Caglianone has an extremely athletic operation in the batter’s box with thunderous bat speed, and his long arms allow him to put the barrel on any pitch no matter where it’s thrown, making him seemingly impossible to pitch to. Caglianone is now hitting .400 on the season with 17 home runs and 38 RBIs. On the mound, he has pitched his way to a 3.41 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 29 innings pitched as the Gators’ Sunday starter.

Carson Benge, OF/RHP, Oklahoma State

After missing the entire 2022 season due to Tommy John surgery, Benge has been outstanding to start 2023. At the plate, he’s hitting .367 with eight doubles and four home runs, while on the mound he has a 1.80 ERA with 10 strikeouts in as many innings pitched. Last week Benge starred on both sides of the baseball, as he went 10-for-19 with two doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs at the plate, while throwing five innings of one-run baseball on the mound in his midweek start. Benge employs an open stance at the plate and uses a somewhat exaggerated barrel tip as a timing mechanism. Benge’s barrel explodes through the zone and his swing is tailored to generate big-time loft and consistent back spin on the baseball. His above-average arm translates well to the mound, where he pounds the strike zone. Benge is a premier 2024 draft prospect who should continue to see his stock rise with strong performances throughout Big 12 play.

Brody Brecht, RHP, Iowa

Brecht was outstanding in his Friday start against Western Michigan, throwing 5.2 scoreless innings while notching 10 strikeouts and allowing just one hit. His fastball was up to 101 mph and averaged 98.4 in this outing, while his hellacious power-slurve breaking ball generated 14 swings and misses, good for a 74% miss rate. Brecht has one of the most athletic operations on the mound of any collegiate pitcher and his operation and pure stuff will only become more refined with his focus now solely on baseball. After Friday’s start he now has a 2.20 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 28.2 innings pitched and is currently one of the premier 2024 draft prospects. 

Rhett Lowder, RHP, Wake Forest

In his biggest test of the 2023 season to this point, Lowder spun a gem against Miami in which he threw seven shutout innings, struck out nine, walked three and allowed just three hits. The 6-foot-2 righthander had his entire arsenal working on Friday night, but especially his slider, which had sharp two-plane break, and his trademark changeup, which is arguably the best of its kind in all of college baseball. The two pitches combined for 13 of his 14 swings and misses in this outing and he continues to establish himself as one of the best college pitching prospects in this year’s draft. Lowder now has a 1.42 ERA with 48 strikeouts to seven walks across 38 innings pitched this spring. 

Hunter Hollan, LHP, Arkansas

Friday’s start at No. 1 Louisiana State was the biggest of Hollan’s collegiate career to this point. Pitching in the hostile environment that is Alex Box Stadium, combined with going toe-to-toe with the best pitcher in this year’s draft class in Paul Skenes and facing the deepest lineup in college baseball, the deck was stacked against Hollan. However, it was clear from the start that he was completely unfazed. Hollan threw 5.1 shutout innings while allowing three hits and walking just one. His fastball was up to 94 out of a three-quarter slot, his slow, sweeping slider was incredibly effective against lefthanded hitters and he deployed a bigger curveball to use against righthanded hitters at times. Hollan’s performance was a huge reason as to why the Razorbacks were able to win game one of the series and he has a chance to be selected in the first three rounds of this year’s draft. 

Noah Hall, RHP, South Carolina

Hall continued his excellent 2023 season on Saturday, throwing seven quality innings against Missouri. He collected 10 strikeouts, allowed one earned run, surrendered five hits and walked only one. Hall ran his fastball up to 95 mph and his changeup, as it has been all year long, was outstanding. It’s a pitch that Hall is comfortable throwing against both righthanded and lefthanded hitters, and it generated 10 swings and misses (56% miss rate) in this particular outing. Hall has a perfect 5-0 record this spring with a 2.35 ERA and an impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio of 41-to-8 in 38.1 innings pitched. 

Jake Noviello, RHP, Fairfield

Noviello was near-perfect in his Friday start against Siena, tossing a complete game shutout in which he struck out 10, walked one and allowed just two singles. The 6-foot-5 Noviello does not possess premium velocity but throws his changeup with conviction—which keeps opposing hitters off-balance. Noviello got 10 swings and misses with his changeup against Siena and it is the best pitch in his arsenal. He has allowed four earned runs in his last 16 innings pitched and looks to continue to string together strong outings as conference play heats up.

Comments are closed.

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone