The West Virginia Power are always the most exciting team to watch as it is the first good glimpse of last year’s draft picks. This year it is even more so because of the strategy shift thanks to being actually decent and not picking at the top of the draft. It included a lot more college hitters and pitchers than normal. This happened again this year in 2015, so West Virginia is the first glimpse to see if it is a good plan.
It has to be admitted that so far it is not working out all that well. Let us start with the bad news.
Connor Joe the Comp round pick has only played 24 games, and he is hitting .244 with a .655 OPS letting you know he has not shown power or anything of that sort yet.
Taylor Gushue, who hit so well in short season last year, has been a big disappointment offensively. The 4th round pick is hitting a paltry .211 in 44 games with only one homer. Kevin Krause, who was the other catcher taken in the ninth round is injured and out all season.
Jordan Luplow, the 3rd round selection, is hitting .232 with 3 HR’s, but a hopeful 16 doubles to lead the team, and 33/23 K/BB rate.
Tyler Fillben, a twelfth round pick, is hitting .233.
This is not a great look for the big name hitters.
The exceptions are top pick Cole Tucker, Michael Suchy (5th), Chase Simpson (14), and Jerrick Suiter (26). Suiter is hitting .308 in a smaller game sample, although large enough to be decent. Chase Simpson is slumping after a very hot start, but is still .257 with a team lead 6 HRs and leads the team in total bases and second in OPS (for those with a minimum PA). He does lead the team in strike outs, but also in walks. Suchy is a close second in walks. He is hitting .253 with 12 doubles and 3 round trippers. Cole Tucker is hitting a nice .271 with only 25 Ks. He also has 16 stolen bases. He has not looked awful at short either. And he really does not count in this discussion because he is straight out of high school.
The pitchers look a bit better. Austin Coley, 8th round pick, is actually looking very good as a starter. He is 8-4, but more importantly has 61 strikeouts to lead the team and has only 9 walks.
Alex McRae (10th) is also starting. He is giving up a few more hits and runs, but has 40 Ks to 12 BBs. Not bad.
John Sever, a 20th round pick who did well at Bristol last year, is also looking good with 55 Ks and 19 BBs. He was starting, but has been moved to the bullpen or maybe a sort of piggy back role. He could miss a few more bats, but potential is there.
Sam Street (16) has a similar issue with allowing hits out of the pen, but is striking out 8 per 9 innings, so that is good. Remember they work heavily on the fastball at West Virginia making higher hit totals not so troubling.
Montana DuRapau has struck out 9 and only walked 1 in 19 innings. He has a WHIP of .414. Admittedly it is a small sample, but something to be encouraged about.
It is not all good for the pitchers Nick Neumann (28) is only 17 Ks and 7 BBs. And Eric Dorsch (15), who has only 7 innings, is also not good. He has walked 6 to striking out 5, but he has also plunked 2 guys.
This year’s draft feels a lot like last years. Hopefully they will have slightly more success at the West Virginia level. It is still far too early to tell how well drafting in the middle of the draft is going for the Pirates. But there is room to hope it gets better, at least for the college guys.
Searching for the True Upside in Erik Gonzalez
7 hours ago