This past week the injury bug is making an impact on a couple of top MLB prospects. MLBPipeline’s second-ranked draft prospect, RHP Ethan Hankins, walked off the mound in his last start with shoulder pain. According to MLBPipeline’s Jim Callis, the injury is not severe.
Good news on Ethan Hankins, potential No. 1 overall @MLBDraft pick. No tears in shoulder, just a muscular issue that should clear up with some physical therapy for a couple of weeks. Left his Saturday start after about 15 pitches, fastball was down to 86-94 that day.
— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) February 20, 2018
Time will tell when Hankins will return to the mound. Scouts would like to see if there are any underlying issues with the shoulder before investing millions of dollars. It is hard to follow high school baseball, but this is a story to track as Hankins was considered to be the best high school pitcher in a deep class of them.
On the college front, Oregon State’s Nick Madrigal was on fire to start the season. In his first six games, Madrigal was 14-for-25 with two doubles, two home runs, three stolen bases, eight runs batted in, one walk and no strikeouts. In Oregon State’s win against Ohio State, Madrigal injured his while sliding at home plate. Fangraphs Kiley McDaniel reported that Madrigal would be out three to four weeks.
Sources: Oregon State 2B Nick Madrigal has a broken wrist and will be out 3-4 weeks. Is seen in the industry as the top college hitter in the draft and still has a good chance to go in the top 5-10 picks in June.
— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) February 25, 2018
The season is not even two weeks old, and two possible Top 10 picks are out at least until April. A lot of eyes will be on both Hankins and Madrigal to see how they bounce back.
While watching the early NCAA action, two pitchers have caught my eye. The first, of course, is Florida’s RHP Brady Singer. A possible choice for the first pick overall, Singer started the 2018 season on the right foot with an impressive outing against Siena allowing no earned runs over seven innings.
This past Friday against #24 ranked Miami; it wasn’t smooth sailing for Singer. In the first inning, Singer had difficulties locating his fastball as the Hurricanes scored three runs. In the video below is the third run allowed by Singer, throwing four straight fastballs with minimal command.
The final first-inning damage was three earned runs on five hits and just one strikeout.
All pitchers have rough outings, but the good ones find a way within a start to make adjustments to survive long enough for the offense to come back. That’s what happened in this game as Singer would eventually find his groove and ability to locate his fastball. In the video below is the pitch I believe saved Singer’s outing.
Slowing it down to see the horizontal movement, notice how far the pitch moves within the tunnel. The green circle is the tunnel point when a hitter will decide to swing, and the red circle is where the ball ends up.
That pitch appears to be a couple of inches outside out of Singer’s hand but jams the hitter. It’s this pitch on why many throughout baseball believe Singer could be a Top 5 pick. Just like any other pitcher, when Singer establishes the fastball, everything falls into place. Below is his slider for a strikeout.
After the first inning, Singer threw four scoreless innings only allowing four hits and walking none. After two starts, Singer has 12 strikeouts to just one walk in 12 innings.
The second pitcher I came away pretty impressed with is Ole Miss LHP Ryan Rolison. A redshirt Sophomore, Rolison had a strong showing in the Cape Cod league this past summer as he pitched 28 innings with 35 strikeouts to just 10 walks to the tune of a 1.54 ERA. Just like Singer, Rolison had a terrific Opening Day start against Winthrop. In five scoreless innings, Rolison struck out 12 while walking two and only allowing one hit.
His second start came against Tulane. In the first inning, Rolison allowed a solo home run to Tulane’s Matt Rowland. I always have great interested in watching how a pitcher reacts to giving up the long ball. When reading up about Rolison, one common note is a good command of his pitches. His arsenal is four-seam, changeup, slider, and his curveball, which is his best pitch. Below is a video of Rolison facing the next batter after allowing the home run.
A three-pitch strikeout to end the inning. Fastball to get strike one, and then two excellent breaking pitches. Rolison does a great job of changing the eye level of hitters. He’ll often throw his fastball belt high on the inside and outside corners that establishes the top of the zone. When the ball comes out of his hand on the curveball, to the hitter it looks like another belt-high pitch but instead, it drops down to the shins. Quite the 10 to 6 hook Rolison has, and it is borderline unfair to left-handed hitters.
In 10 innings, Rolison has only allowed the one earned run while striking out 21 and walking just four. If he keeps up this pace all season long, Rolison will challenge South Florida’s Shane McClanahan for the title of best college lefty.