The CBB recently had an opportunity to take in the Missouri-Kansas series over this past weekend. We focused on the strong Missouri team which includes one of the top pitchers in the country for 2008 in Aaron Crow and one of the top 2009 pitching prospects in Kyle Gibson. We also checked in on some of the other top players on the squad who might make an impact in the coming future.
Aaron Crow JR 6’3, 195 RHP
Crow is one of the top players in the country and I believe him to be the best pitcher in the country (Brian Matusz of San Diego gets a close 2nd). Crow has 2 very strong pitches he relies on. His fastball and his slider. His fastball is in the lower to mid 90′s with good late movement. He has great command of it and throws it on both sides of the plate and will use it up in the zone. His control is extremely good. Having control and command of a mid 90′s moving fastball is a sick thing to have as a pitcher. He couldn’t do it all with just a fastball however. His second pitch is a slider in the mid 80′s. This is usually his strikeout pitch i would assume. He gets ahead of hitters with his fastball and then flashes the slider to finish them off. He also has a change up but at this point it is just an average pitch and he doesn’t use it a whole lot. He has a 3.08 ERA with 92 strikeouts in 76 innings. He has only walked 24 and has given up 66 hits. I will be watching him very close tonight. I want to see his 3/4 arm delivery and how smooth he looks with it. I will be anxious to see the movement on his fastball and to see how much his slider breaks. Crow is a feisty competitor as well so i will be anxious to see him talk smack and show his emotions out there.
TAKE: Crow was as advertised. He pitched 7 innings and gave up 6 hits and walked 5 and struck out 11. He didn’t have the best of command on this night but he was still filthy. His slider is a sight to be seen. It came in about 84-86 and it looks identical to his fastball when it leaves his hand and has some very strong and very late break so it made a large majority of the hitters look foolish as they flailed their bat at a pitch low and away. It was all setup with his nice fastball that he used to get ahead of hitters with. It wasn’t blazing fast but it does come in about 92-93 and has some very good movement. He threw very few changeups so I didn’t get a very good taste of whether this was a plus pitch or just an average pitch. He has a very quick but smooth delivery and it is a little weird as he has a low arm slot and the ball is hidden through much of his throwing motion and seems to come from nowhere. This creates the feeling to the batters that the ball really jumps from his hand and gets on them very quick. Crow really knows how to pitch as he was ahead of hitters the entire time and really making them helpless when they knew that slider was on the way. He also has a very nice pick-off move to first base. I think this kid will be a #1 or #2 type starter in the big leagues. If he can really develop a good changeup, he can be a true ace. As for injuries, that is a tough call. He does have an odd delivery with his arm and elbow but it didn’t look too bad in my opinion. I don’t see any reason he would show signs of injury over many other top tier guys. Crow will be an excellent pick with one of the top 5 picks in the draft.
Kyle Gibson SO 6’6, 195 RHP
I actually like Gibson about as much if not more than I like Crow. Gibson is a tall kid with very good stuff. He has 3 very good pitches. His fastball is in the low 90′s and upper 80′s and has good movement. His slider is decent and comes in at the mid 80′s. He has a good combination of skills and has a high ceiling to go with his youth. He has a 3.84 ERA in 70.1 innings with 74 strikeouts, 18 walks and 72 hits. He was drafted in the 34th in 06 by the Phillies and i would expect him to be a top 5-10 draft pick this time next year. He will be playing on the USA team this summer. I will be watching his delivery very close and I’m anxious to see what his 3 pitches look like. He pitches tomorrows game at 6pm.
TAKE: Gibson was also as advertised. He is fun to watch. Gibson came in to the Friday night game with the bases loaded and 2 outs to get a huge strike out and get his first save. He then pitched the last game on Sunday. He went 7 innings giving up 5 hits, 2 walks and struck out 8. Gibson gets a ton of groundballs with his sinking fastball and has very good command and control of his pitches. His fastball was 87-90 (hitting 93 a couple times). His slider was 82-84 and had some decent break to it. I would expect Gibson to be Aaron Crow Part II next year. He has a great delivery and it looks very easy and smooth. Gibson will be a top 10 pick next year if he can continue to improve and come back with a nasty slider for his strikeout pitch.
Aaron Senne SO 6’2, 201 LF
Senne was drafted in the 13th rd. in 06 by Minnesota. That is a pretty high pick coming out of HS and choosing college. Senne has very nice numbers. He is batting .361 with 11 HR and 55 RBI. He has 12 Doubles, 24 strikeouts and 32 walks. Senne appears to be a very good hitter with plenty of pop in his bat. He has good strike zone judgment as well. He will also play on the USA team this summer. He is an exciting player and i will be watching him tonight to see if he can be a first round pick after next season.
TAKE: Senne impressed me a lot. He went 3-11 with 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 Runs scored, 2 strikeouts and 3 Walks. Senne has some very good power already. He is a very athletic kid and looks to have good strike zone judgment. I would expect Senne to be one of the top hitters in the nation next year and be a top 3 round type draft pick next June.
Jacob Priday SR 6’1, 215 OF
Priday has some very good power but also hits very well for average. He is batting .348 with 15 HR, 55 RBI, 14 Doubles, 37 K’s and 21 Walks. Priday is a great hitter and will be tough to keep under control this weekend. I will be anxious to see his power and to gauge where his draft slot will be next month.
TAKE: Priday did not overly impress me with the bat. He went 2-10 with an RBI, 2 Runs, a SB, 2 strikeouts and 3 Walks. Priday has a very powerful swing but it’s a bit slow getting through the zone. He does have good strike zone judgment and protects the plate well for a slugger. Priday has an outstanding arm in RF. His defense coupled with his power will definitely translate to the next level. The question will be if he can keep his average up while continuing to make adjustments and hit for power. I see Priday getting drafted somewhere in between rounds 5-8 next month.
Trevor Coleman SO 6’1, 214 C
Coleman is a young catcher with some very good upside. He was drafted in the 38th round in 06 by the Reds and last year he was the Big 12 Freshman of the year. Being a catcher with a good bat is always a rare thing. Coleman is hitting .284 with 2 HR and 25 RBI, 5 Doubles, 23 strikeouts and 22 Walks. I will be watching his defense behind the plate and also to see if he has any pop in his bat at all. If he can put together a good offensive campaign next year, he could move up the draft charts very quickly.
TAKE: Coleman was very impressive both behind the plate and with the bat. He went 6-13 with a HR, 2 Doubles, 5 RBI, 5 Runs scored and only 2 strikeouts. He has a very quick bat with some good pop. On defense he was very good. As you can imagine catching Crows slider and Gibson sinker, its not an easy job He had great lateral movement and did a great job digging out the tough ones. He also blocked the plate well on a throw to home plate. Coleman also has a very nice arm. All of these positives from a sophomore playing one of the most demanding positions on the field. He will have a good chance to be one of the top catchers in the nation next year. If he continues to improve, he could be a top 3 round draft pick, but if he stagnates and stays where he is, I would guess somewhere in rounds 10-15.
Nick Tepesch FR 6’5, 224 RHP
Tepesch was drafted in the 28th round in 07 by Boston. He is a very big kid. He has a 5.24 ERA in 22.1 innings with 13 strikeouts and 8 Walks and has given up 24 hits. Hittable at this stage of his young career but i will be looking to see what upside he may have (if we get to see him at all).
TAKE: Tepesch barely got to pitch. He came in and faced 2 batters and gave up 2 hits. He threw a slider about 87-88 that had some decent break to it and he also threw a slow curve about 77-81. He was hittable on this night. He does have a great pitchers frame and some decent movement. Him being a freshman, I can definitely see a lot of potential there.
Ryan Lollis JR 6’1, 190 CF
Lollis was drafted in the 20th round in 05 by Pittsburgh. He is a solid hitter for average with gap power and some decent speed. He is batting .326 with 1 HR, 34 RBI, 15 Doubles, 19 strikeouts and 29 Walks. He is an exciting young prospect that may be drafted in the middle rounds next month.
TAKE: Lollis has a great bat. I loved watching this kid hit. He went 5-10 with a Double, 2 RBI, 2 Runs, 1 K and 3 Walks. Lollis knows how to hit and he does a great job of getting on base. I definitely see some gap power in his swing. I think he would be a great player for a team to grab as a sleeper type pick, somewhere in round 8-10.
Others to Watch:
Brad Buehler FR 6’1, 204 RHP
He was drafted in the 43rd round last year by Tampa Bay but did not play in the series.
Tyler Clark FR 6’2, 196 RHP
Clark is a strikeout pitcher drafted in the 46th last year by the Cubs but did not play in the series.
Andrew Thigpen FR 5’11, 190 SS
Thigpen is having a great freshman year batting .361 in 72 at bats.
TAKE: Thigpen played like a freshman, inconsistent. He went 2-10 with a Double, 2 RBI, 2 Runs and 3 strikeouts. He made a few great plays and then screwed up a few plays as well. I like his body language along with a good swing and great defense. SS is a very demanding position for anyone, let alone a freshman. I think Thigpen could wind up being a very good player in a couple years.
Greg Folgia SO 5’11, 195 2B
Folgia is batting .309 with some decent gap power (15 doubles) and a nice strikeout/walk ratio (34/38)
TAKE: Folgia had a rough series going 1-12, with an RBI, 2 Runs, 2 Walks and 6 strikeouts. He will need to show a bit more next year to be recognized as a true middle infield prospect. Right now, id guess him to be a middle round pick.
All Photos are the property of Aman Reaka.