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Top 7 College Lefthanders

Image credit: South Florida lefthander Shane McClanahan

Throughout the season, Baseball America will present position rankings of the best college players in the 2018 draft class. Here we focus on lefthanders.

The position is strong at the top with several lefties pushing to be first-round picks. But the position’s depth has been lessened by injuries. Preseason All-Americans Steven Gingery (Texas Tech) and Tyler Holton (Florida State) were injured on Opening Weekend and required Tommy John surgery. UCLA’s Justin Hooper is also out for the year and Louisiana-Lafayette’s Hogan Harris missed a month due to an oblique injury.

While this list is based on draft status, players that are out for the season were not considered.

1. Shane McClanahan, South Florida:
A late growth spurt dramatically raised McClanahan’s prospect profile his senior year of high school. He missed the following year due to Tommy John surgery but came back strong and earned Freshman All-America honors last spring. This year he was voted a first-team Preseason All-American by major league scouting directors and has taken over as the Bulls’ ace. He has a powerful fastball that reaches 99 mph and a sharp slider to go with it. That’s helped him this spring pile up 73 strikeouts, the second most in the nation, in 40.2 innings.

2. Ryan Rolison, Mississippi: Rolison was one of the headliners of Ole Miss’ top-ranked 2016 recruiting class. He was last summer the top-ranked pitching prospect in the Cape Cod League, showing off a solid three-pitch mix. Rolison, a draft-eligible sophomore, pairs his low-90s fastball with a wipeout curveball and also mixes in a changeup.

3. Tim Cate, Connecticut:
Cate has compiled impressive numbers throughout his college career and earned a spot on last year’s USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team. His 256 strikeouts rank second in program history and he is averaging 11.56 strikeouts per nine innings over the course of his career. Cate throws his fastball in the low 90s and his calling card is his curveball, which ranks as one of the best in the draft class.

4. Kris Bubic, Stanford: With righthander Tristan Beck sidelined by injury last season, Bubic stepped up to lead Stanford’s rotation. He continued to impress on the Cape, where he was named pitcher of the year. Bubic has a plus changeup that is one of the best in the class and a fastball that can get up to 94 mph—though it more typically sits 90-91. His stuff, size (6-foot-3, 220 pounds), pitchability and track record all have him trending up this spring.

5. Konnor Pilkington, Mississippi State: Pilkington has been a reliable starter throughout his career at Mississippi State, on the Cape and with Team USA. He isn’t overpowering but has three pitches that have a chance to be at least average and he pounds the strike zone.

6. Daniel Lynch, Virginia: Lynch has taken a step forward in the last year as he has improved his control and continued to show solid stuff. Listed at 6-foot-4, 175 pounds, he throws his fastball in the low 90s, has an above-average changeup and mixes in both a curveball and a slider.

7. John Rooney, Hofstra: Rooney will become the first player from Hofstra drafted since Bryan Verbitsky went 86th overall in 2013 and he could pass Verbitsky as the highest drafted player in program history. Rooney, an upstate New York native, is still raw, but his combination of size—6-foot-5, 225 pounds—and stuff—he has a chance for three average-or-better offerings—make for an intriguing package. He has been solid this spring and threw last month six innings in a combined no-hitter against Mount St. Mary’s.

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