AJ Puk, Florida

Florida lefthander A.J. Puk (Tim Casey)


Top 10 Prospect Matchups: Week Two

From week to week, there are marquee matchups between powerhouse programs on the college baseball scene that catch the eye. These matchups have potentially significant ramifications when it comes to the standings and long term postseason hopes. But, when you look at the college game through the eyes of a scout, and look at some of the matchups within a series, some very different showdowns become all the more intriguing.

Each week here at D1Baseball.com, we will provide a ranking of the best and most intriguing matchups between prospects that college baseball has to offer. Some of these matchups will be specific in nature (two top pitching prospects squaring off) and others will be between two exceptionally talented rosters. Essentially, the rankings are considered on the basis of how significant the matchup is looking at it through a scouting and draft lens. The goal is to shine a light on some lesser known quantities that deserve attention from the scouting world, and to highlight very specific aspects of some of the already highly talked about, marquee series from around the nation. Although professional scouts are currently focused on 2016, we also consider the 2017 and 2018 draft classes for the purposes of this list.

(This is not a ranking that reflects the overall rankings of teams in our weekly top 25. It’s a ranking of specific matchups that are particularly intriguing to the scouting community.)

1. Florida @ Miami – Opportunity Knocks

There are prospect storylines galore in this matchup, and the first thing to watch will be on Friday night. Gators’ Friday night ace RHP Logan Shore, a projected first-rounder, will take the ball coming off what was not his best showing terms of pure stuff in week one. He will be taking the ball in front of a number of scouting directors who have indicated that they will indeed be in attendance, and they’ll be looking to see if his velocity ticks up from the 88-91 mph he showed in his 2016 debut. Shore is still best known for his pitchability and skills when it comes to locating his secondaries, but he’ll be watched extra closely in this one to see if he can get back to that 90-93 mph range. That said, the star attraction will still be potential No. 1 overall pick A.J. Puk, a towering lefthander who will take the ball on Saturday for the Gators. Puk will work at 92-96 mph with his fastball, but what the hoard of scouts will be looking for is slider command. His ability to stay down to righty batters is what brings him from simply a power arm to a pitcher that scouts can actually envision leading a big league rotation.

Miami outfielder Willie Abreu (Aaron Fitt)Miami outfielder Willie Abreu (Aaron Fitt)

But there’s a major prospect storyline here involving two star Miami hitters, Zack Collins and Willie Abreu. Both are lefty hitters, both are 2016 draft prospects, and both have questions to answer about their ability against lefty pitching. Collins is far more established as a clear-cut first-round prospect, but Abreu also has massive upside and has flashed 65 raw power in the past. Abreu is coming off an excellent opening week of the season, but all eyes will be on how he and Collins handle arguably the nastiest lefty in the country, the aforementioned Puk. Puk will be showcasing himself, but he could also be a kingmaker if one of these hitters can do some damage against him with the eyes of the scouting world on them. Just ask former Fresno State star and current Yankees’ prospect Aaron Judge, who homered twice in a game against Stanford superstar Mark Appel, what a big performance against a premium draft prospect can do for one’s prospect status. Collins and Abreu will face no tougher test than they will against Puk this weekend. The athletic Abreu has more to gain, as his bat gets questioned more frequently. But his physicality coupled with his power could allow him to shoot up draft boards if he can prove himself against dynamic pitching.


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