Coming into the season, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Matt Purke was the top draft eligible left-handed pitcher for the 2011 MLB Draft. Things have definitely changed over the first five weeks of the season. Both Virginia’s Danny Hultzen and Georgia Tech’s Jed Bradley have jumped right in the middle of the discussion with outstanding starts to the year.
Virginia’s Danny Hultzen made his sixth start of the season last week against Maryland. He picked up the win by going six innings, giving up four hits and one earned run while walking three batters and striking out nine. The victory upped his record to 5-0, with a 1.12 ERA in 40.1 innings pitched. His strikeout to walk ratio is a ridiculous 71 to 7 on the year.
The biggest question mark throughout Danny’s career has been whether his smallish stature will handle professional baseball. He doesn’t seem as big as the 6’3 200 pounds that is listed on Virginia’s roster, but either way he has really dominated the college game this season.
Georgia Tech’s Jed Bradley also made his sixth start of the season last week against Miami. He went six innings, giving up sixhits and three runs (two earned) while walking one and striking out eight batters. He picked up a no-decision in the game. He is now 3-0 on the year, with an ERA of 1.67 in 37.2 innings pitched He has struck out 51 batters, while walking 13 so far.
The huge question with Bradley was whether he would put all his great tools together at the college level this season, after being a major disappointment last season with the Yellow Jackets. He had a solid summer in the Cape Cod Baseball League with a 2-3 record and a 1.98 ERA.
TCU’s Matt Purke made his fifth start of the season Saturday against Houston. He lasted four innings giving up four hits, five runs (two earned) while walking two batters and striking out four. On the year, he is 3-1 with a 1.17 ERA in 23 innings pitched. He has struck out 29 batters while walking seven on the year.
Purke, on the other hand, has been dealing with a minor blister issue on his pitching hand. His biggest issue is the fact that his velocity is way down this year – he has topped out at 89 and 91 respectfully in multiple outings. He was up near 93-95 during his outstanding freshman season in 2010, which saw him go 16-0 with a 3.02 ERA and winning the National Freshman Pitcher of the Year award.
We were able to catch up to ESPN.com Insider and MLB Draft guru Keith Law to get his impressions on these three star left-handed pitchers.
“Hultzen has seen his stuff tick up this spring, particularly velocity, while Bradley has followed up the strong Cape performance with a solid spring, answering questions about his poor performance at Georgia Tech last year. In a draft where a lot of top arms haven’t come out of the chute strongly those guys have separated themselves from the other lefties and a lot of the righties too.”
We should see what MLB teams do in the June draft with these three lefties as each of them have their pluses and minuses.