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College  | Story  | 3/9/2018

Quick Take: Houston

Photo: @UHCougarBB

Perfect Game College Player Database

During the season Perfect Game scouts will be traveling to some of the top series to watch the very best players in college baseball. Those observations, captured with both written notes and video, will be shared in the College Player Database as linked above, notes that can also be accessed on the players' individual PG profile pages. Throughout the season select reports will be shared in feature format to promote the players, the teams and college baseball as a whole.

Houston Cougars

What Happened: The Houston Cougars had a rough weekend at the Shriners College Classic, going 0-3, including a run rule-shortened game vs. Kentucky. The starting pitching, sans Aaron Fletcher on Saturday, wasn't very good, and the bullpen got more taxed as a result, where they got beat up as well. There were certainly some offensive flashes, but at the end of the day, with 1-2 exceptions, the pitching wasn't good enough, and that will get you beat at an event like that. 

Carrying Tool: Middle of the lineup bats. With Joe Davis having had a big weekend and righting the ship after a rough start, the middle of the Houston order was very solid with he, Lael Lockhart Jr., Connor Hollis and the offensive heroics of Landon Etzel as well. Those four, combined with some other contributions up and down the lineup, combine to give Houston a pretty formidable starting nine when everything is clicking for them. 

Concerns: Starting pitching. Aaron Fletcher has been outstanding on Saturdays for the Cougars, but he's sandwiched between two underperforming upperclassmen in Trey Cumbie and Ryan Randel. The silver lining here is that both Cumbie and Randel have track records of success at this level, Cumbie in particular. They have the ability to turn it around in a hurry, and if they do, this season outlook gets a whole lot better. 

Best Player on the Field: Aaron Fletcher. While Houston's lineup did show off some talented bats, it was Aaron Fletcher late on Saturday night who really stole the show for the Cougars, limiting a good Mississippi State club to one run in over six innings, pounding the zone and striking out six in the process. The lefthander is an elite strike thrower who attacks with plenty good stuff, and if he keeps pitching like that, he's poised for a big season. 

Fearless Forecast: Starting pitching rights the ship. As stated above, both struggling Houston starters Trey Cumbie and Ryan Randel have such track records of success that it would be hard to imagine them continuing to struggle all season like they are. It's not reckless to imagine them both figuring it out quickly and make Houston's rotation a dangerous one as conference play approaches, especially if Aaron Fletcher keeps pitching like he has been on Saturdays. 

Database Player Reports (6):

• Trey Cumbie
Joe Davis
• Landon Etzel
• Aaron Fletcher
• Lael Lockhart, Jr.
• Ryan Randel

Prospect Spotlight: Joe Davis, 1B/DH

Houston's hulking slugger Joe Davis got off to a bit of a rough start by his standards through the season's first couple weeks, but a good weekend in Houston has rebounded his numbers and he's now sitting on a .308/.390/.462 triple slash line, which is sure to rise as his prodigious power continues to come on. 

Davis is a DH/1B only type of prospect, which is to say that his prospect stock rests entirely on his bat, which has shown to be one of the better righthanded bats in all of college baseball over the past few seasons. His biggest single tool is likely his raw physical strength, which plays on the diamond in the form of excellent raw power from the right side of the plate. He doesn't have what one would call a "pretty" swing, but he's consistently on time with the barrel and is potentially stronger than anyone else in college baseball. Those two factors combine to give Davis big-time damage ability at the plate, which he has shown consistently for years now. 

It's a pretty quiet set up and overall approach for Davis, without much in the way of extraneous movement pre-pitch or pre-swing. He loads quietly and gets into his back hip well, exploding forward with excellent rotation and torque, and while the hand path is a bit more inside-out than a traditional power hitter, Davis is so strong that he can still drive the ball with authority to all fields. His hands are very quick to the zone and the barrel lags in the zone for a good amount of time, giving Davis the necessary plate coverage and bat speed to continue mashing at the next level. 

From a draft perspective, the fact that Davis is likely a DH-only professionally, along with the fact that he hits righthanded, will likely knock him down a bit. Still, a hitter with his type of strength and raw power, to go along with his track record of performance, will have teams highly interested, perhaps on Day 2 of the draft.