The Florida Gators are in the thick of SEC play and lefty A.J. Puk took the mound on Friday to open the series against the Georgia Bulldogs. While Georgia emerged with a 2-1 win after 12 innings, Puk pitched like an ace for 6 2/3 innings, allowing one run on three hits and a walk while striking out 10. He threw 103 pitches before being pulled in the seventh.
Puk overcame some early trouble in the first, when he allowed a leadoff single that was followed by a stolen base and a walk. He struck out first baseman Trevor Kieboom (think of all the puns with that last name! Trevor's brother, high schooler Carter, should be an early pick this year) and got a fly out in center field before a double steal put runners on second and third. That didn't phase him, as Puk got a swinging strikeout to end the inning. Florida scored a run in the bottom of the first.
The southpaw didn't allow another baserunner until Kieboom doubled down the left field line to start the seventh inning. A pop out and a strikeout followed, but designated hitter Daniel Nichols tied the game at one with an RBI ground-rule double to score Kieboom. Puk left the game after that, but his reliever prevented Nichols from scoring.
Georgia's starting pitcher, Robert Tyler, should find his name called early in the draft. He pitched 8 1/3 innings while striking out nine.
Kyle Lewis, OF, Mercer
It was a quiet week for Lewis, picking up a few hits here and there, but no huge outings. He did narrow his walks to strikeouts to just a difference of 10.
Season line: .414/.540/.789, 10 2B, 15 HR, 42 BB, 32 K
Additional reading: Kyle Lewis checking all the boxes leading up to MLB Draft -- Today's Knuckleball
Alec Hansen, RHP, Oklahoma
Hansen is still out of the Sooners' rotation, but I liked this interview he did recently over at MLB Trade Rumors.
Dakota Hudson, RHP, Mississippi State
A new name to this list, Hudson is not among the top tier of first-round talent, but somewhere in the late teens to 20s. Over 10 starts and 67 innings this season, Hudson has a 2.82 ERA with 70 strikeouts, 24 walks, and a .244 opponent batting average. Since an 11-strikeout, one-hit complete game on April 1, Hudson has struggled and allowed 17 of 26 runs this spring.
Connor Jones, RHP, Virginia
Jones and the Cavaliers traveled to Coral Gables for a weekend series against the Miami Hurricanes, and it began with a bang: a 5-0 lead after the first inning. The lead started to slip away in the fourth inning when two unearned runs scored, a result of a two-base throwing error and a couple of singles to plate the runs. The teams then waited out an 82-minute rain delay, but Jones came out and pitched a few more innings and allowed two more runs. He ended the game with seven innings pitched, eight hits, four runs allowed, three strikeouts, and two walks.
Jordan Sheffield, RHP, Vanderbilt
Sheffield shut down the Tennessee Volunteers on Friday night with eight shutout innings of three-hit ball. Combined with last week's nine-inning shutout, Sheffield has pitched 17 scoreless innings since LSU torched him for nine runs on April 6.
Joey Wentz, LHP, Shawnee Mission East HS (KS)
Not a candidate to be one of the earliest picks, but this is impressive:
No joke...Wentz starts:— Nathan Rode (@NathanRode) April 22, 2016
3/22: 4 IP, 0 H, 6 K, 2 BB
3/31: 6 IP, 0 H, 13 K, 0 BB
4/9: 7 IP, 0 H, 16 K, 1 BB
4/19: 6 IP, 0 H, 13 K, 2 BB
Also a first baseman, Wentz participated in the High School Select Home Run Derby last July: