College Baseball Weekend Scouting Notes: March 7, 2022

© Ken Oots/For The StarNews via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Every week, we will recap amateur baseball happenings in a post like this, with a focus on how the action impacts the next three draft classes, especially this year’s. You’ll find a primer on our approach, as well as our observations from Week 1, here. Now on to this past weekend’s notes.

Ben Joyce, RHP, Tennessee Volunteers: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K (Current Rank: College Pitcher of Note, 35+ FV)

That line next to Joyce’s name actually represents the composite of his Saturday and Sunday showings, as he faced just four batters combined. Joyce has become a Twitter darling by frequently getting into the triple-digits with a fastball that has touched an eye-popping 103 mph, but after missing the 2021 season due to Tommy John surgery, and with just three innings in the books so far this year, scouts are still very much in the to-be-determined phase of figuring out where to line him up on draft boards. While we haven’t seen this kind of velocity since early-career Aroldis Chapman, teams are still trying to determine what else Joyce can do. So far, he’s been hovering around 90% fastball usage while generally finding the zone with the pitch; maybe we’d all lean that heavily on our heater if we could throw it as hard as Joyce does. Still, while his low-to-mid-80s slider flashes solid sweeping action, of the four he had thrown on the season entering Sunday’s game, none were in the zone, and to be honest, they weren’t particularly close. Even at 100-plus mph, you can’t live on fastballs alone, and many will be watching Joyce for the remainder of the spring in an attempt to figure out exactly what the entire package looks like. –KG

Jace Jung, 2B, Texas Tech Red Raiders: 11-for-18, 2B, 3B, HR, 4 BB, K, 2 SB (Current Rank: 3, 45+ FV)

Entering the season, Jung was generally seen as the best college bat in this year’s draft class, though he got off to a slow start. Well, it turns out that all you need to recover from an early-season swoon is a four-game series against an easy opponent like Merrimack. The entire Red Raiders offense feasted from Friday to Sunday, scoring 70 runs, and Jung was in the middle of much of it, heading to the plate for 23 appearances and only being retired seven times. After flirting with the Mendoza line for much of the young season, Jung’s overall line is suddenly well-aligned with expectations at .381/.566/.595. Of course, teams will take note of Jung’s opponent here, and by draft day, they will have dissected his performance to see how he did in conference games, when facing Friday starters, and even against individual pitches that grade out as major-league caliber or better. Despite the slow start, nobody is too concerned about Jung, and he has plenty of time to do what are expected to be very good things against much better competition. –KG

Brooks Lee, SS, Cal Poly Mustangs: 6-for-12, 2 BB, HR, 3 BB, K, SB (Current Rank: 6, 45+ FV)

An 0-for-4 Sunday against UNLV dipped Lee’s batting average on the season below .500 (he’s now at .488/.593/.791 in 11 games), but the most notable event in his season occurred Saturday when he struck out. That shouldn’t be a big deal, especially in today’s meta game of all-or-nothing baseball, but it was Lee’s first K of the season after nearly 50 plate appearances. Having entered the year as a potential top 10 pick after a phenomenal showing on the Cape over the summer, it’s hard for Lee to do much to further raise his stock, but he’s starting to do just that. The son of Cal Poly’s head coach, Lee is a baseball rat, but he has considerable skills as well, with an outstanding combination of plus-plus contact and solid power from both sides of the plate to go along with good swing decisions. His fundamentals also shine on defense, with great hands and instincts, but those positives will likely be transferred to third base as a pro, as he lacks the twitch to play shortstop at the next level but has more than enough arm for the hot corner. Even with the defensive knock against him, Lee’s decision to go to college, despite getting plenty of attention in high school, looks like it will pay off handsomely. –KG

Jerry Huntzinger, C/RP, Xavier Musketeers: 4-for-12, HR, 2B, BB, SB & 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 K (Current Rank: College Hitter of Note, 35 FV)

A grad transfer from Seton Hall, the 23-year-old Huntzinger is coming off a senior season during which he led the Big East in steals as a catcher. He has previous experience catching and playing the outfield, and now that he’s transferred to Xavier, he’s also pitching the odd inning here and there; he played second base yesterday before coming in to close out the Musketeers game against USC Upstate. We don’t have velos from yesterday, but Huntzinger was 89-92 mph and touched 94 in his first ever collegiate inning a couple weeks ago against Louisville, which came on a cold day after he had caught eight innings. He has a great baseball frame, is an above-average athlete, and plays with big energy and swagger. He’ll make for a very interesting senior sign. –EL

JP Massey, RHP, Minnesota Golden Gophers: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 8 K (Current Rank: College Pitcher of Note, 37 FV)

If the 2021 draft were 40 rounds, the lanky, 6-foot-5 Massey would likely have been picked when he was first eligible. Now a redshirt junior in his fourth year at Minnesota, Massey has had a three-tick velo spike to start the year and thus far has been sitting 91-93 mph and reaching back for as much as 96, after he averaged 89 last year during a brief, inconsistent season. Massey’s frame is not mass-y; rather, it’s extremely sinewy and lithe for a college pitching prospect and more velo may yet arrive. He’s throwing strikes at a better rate than ever before in his college career and has pretty good feel for his two-planed curveball. He’s a developmental prospect in some respects, as his changeup is pretty raw and he’s never thrown more than a few dozen innings in a year. There’s a chance he’ll tire as the spring wears on, but he has mid-90s lightning in that arm right now and the arrow is pointing way up in that regard. –EL

Will Sanders, RHP, South Carolina Gamecocks: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 14 K (Current Rank: 10 (2023), 40+ FV)

Sanders has been famous for a while. He was one of the top high school arms in Georgia two years ago and would have been drafted on Day Two if not for his strong college commitment, though most pro teams believed he would also be better served by going to school, where hopefully his stuff would take a step forward to go along with his already impressive command. That has happened, and with a career-high in strikeouts on Friday against his team’s biggest rival in Clemson, Sanders is starting to line himself up as one of the better college arms in the 2023 draft. Still just 19 (he turns 20 later this month), Sanders has added 15-20 pounds of bulk to his 6-foot-6 frame since enrolling in college, and a fastball that once topped out at 92-93 mph now sits at 93-95. To say he pounds the zone with it doesn’t really do Sanders justice, as his in-zone percentage with the heater has been north of 80%, and beyond the strikes, he’s shown the ability to locate to all four quadrants. Yes, he walked five on Friday, but two of those were of the intentional variety. With a pair of power breaking balls and a mature changeup, Sanders is a ready-to-go starter package who looks like he’ll provide some quick-moving, low-variance outcomes as teams start to line up their early boards next January. –KG

Brandon Sproat, RHP, Florida Gators:6.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K (Current Rank: 18, 45 FV)

Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan has now yo-yo’d the enigmatic Sproat back and forth between the bullpen and rotation to start the 2022 season after he had exclusively been a wild, late-inning bullpen arm during his underclass seasons. He’s responded by avoiding walks better than ever before (though he still has a reliever’s visual look), showing that he can hold his mid-90s velocity deep into games (reaching back for 94-96 mph late vs Miami) and that his slider and changeup both have bat-missing potential. While Sproat’s fastball shape is sub-optimal, it complements his excellent changeup well. His slider is inconsistent but flashes plus, and his development has been slowed by his role and the pandemic. With a dearth of healthy college pitching in this year’s class, Sproat is squarely in the first round right now. –EL

Added to The Board

In addition to Huntzinger, Joyce, and Massey from the above reports, these names are fresh over on The Board, where you can find more info on them:

Nick Dean, RHP, Maryland Terrapins – Dean is a pitchability type with good secondaries and below-average velocity.

Jaycob Deese, RHP, Houston Cougars – A slider monster reliever who is working multiple innings right now, we’re hoping Deese experiences a velo spike in a pro single-inning role.

Austin Charles, 3B/RHP, Stockdale HS Mustangs (CA) – Charles is a gigantic two-way high school player who has enjoyed a little velo spike into the low-to-mid-90s and has hit a couple homers to start the year. He has huge long-term power projection.

Maurice Hampton, CF, Samford Bulldogs – A formerly famous high school recruit and two-sport athlete at LSU, Hampton is now finally getting regular playing time after transferring and giving up football. He should be monitored, though the early returns haven’t been great.

Brooks Baldwin, 2B, UNC-Wilmington Seahawks – Off to a hot start with the bat, the good-framed Baldwin is an unsigned 15th rounder from last year and an interesting up-the-middle senior sign type with plus speed.

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1 year ago

This description of Lee seems completely at odds with the note next to his profile on the BOARD. There he’s described as a clean fit at shortstop who must stay there because there are big questions about his hit tool. The write-up here sounds like he’s got a plus or better hit tool but assumes he will move off shortstop and sees that as no big deal. Not trying to be critical, just trying to reconcile these two very different descriptions. Is it safe to say that he’s just evolved since that note on the BOARD?

1 year ago
Reply to  HowBoutDemOs

I think Kevin and Eric disagree is what is going on here.