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College  | Story  | 3/10/2018

Linginfelter slams door for Vols

Photo: Tennessee Athletics

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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.

Zach Linginfelter, rhp, Tennessee

Tennessee's Friday starter for the first three weeks of the season, Linginfelter did not get the Friday start vs. Cincinnati, rather he was called on to pitch out of the bullpen. He picked up the win anyway, coming on in the 10th inning and going the final 2 2/3 frames, allowing only a walk while striking out four. 

Linginfelter is an XL-framed, burly and physical righthanded pitcher who looks like he should throw pretty hard, which he does. He's cleaned up his delivery some since his prep days, getting a little better rotated in his hips and downhill more online, though there is still some closed-landing there. The back elbow does get pretty high through the back of the arm stroke, and can create some timing issues coming through. 

Linginfelter worked 92-95 mph with his fastball, coming right at hitters and attacking the strike zone with above average to plus life on the pitch, running it in on the hands of righthanded hitters and basically just not messing around. He has a live arm and always has, but it's likely a reliever profile long term, given the delivery's red flags, command inconsistency, and lack of a plus off-speed pitch. Linginfelter ranked No. 153 on the most recent Top 250 Draft Prospects List, which would put him roughly in the 5-6 round range right now, a pretty good estimation based on what he showed Friday afternoon.

Garrett Crochet, lhp, Tennessee

A true freshman in head coach Tony Vitello's first recruiting class, Crochet made the first start of his collegiate career against Cincinnati on Friday, and really delivered on the faith the coaching staff put into him. He didn't factor into the decision as Tennessee took 12 innings to beat UC, but he did go eight full innings, allowing only a single earned on run five hits while not walking anyone and striking out eight. 

He did a very good job of attacking hitters right from the get go, not messing around and more than willing to come inside with the fastball early and often. The delivery as a whole works pretty well too, working from the extreme third base side of the rubber and creating slight crossfire through release, Crochet is pretty consistently on time, and while his command was fringy overall, his control was plus and he had no problem filling up the strike zone. He creates very good angle from a high three-quarters slot, powering the ball downhill to both sides of the plate. He worked 88-91 mph with his fastball for essentially the entire game, bumping a 92 early on and doing a fantastic job of holding his velocity throughout. The pitch lacks much in the way of life, occasionally cutting inside to righthanded hitters, but the angle he creates and the deception by which he delivers the ball both allow for the pitch to play up in effectiveness. 

His curveball, which he didn't consistently have the release point of, flashed 55 on the 20-80 scale, thrown in 78-81 mph range with 1-to-7 shape and power depth when spun correctly. He had a tendency to release it early and cast it a bit, so while the consistency with the pitch needs tightening up, there is definitely feel for it and it has a chance to be a weapon for him as he continues to develop. Only 18 still, Crochet will still be just 20 years old at the time of the 2020 draft, making him potentially extra-enticing to teams at that point.

J.T. Perez, lhp, Cincinnati

Cincinnati's senior Friday starter, lefthander J.T. Perez, was excellent against Tennessee, allowing only a single earned run over the course of an 88-pitch eight innings while scattering five hits and punching out five as well. It's all pretty fluid and easy for Perez, with a simple delivery that gets a little crossfire due to the closed landing but does add pretty good deception in addition to low-three quarters, slinger slot that Perez throws from. This delivery and arm action are especially tough on lefthanded hitters, as it feels like Perez is releasing the ball from behind them, and he's unlikely to get hurt too badly this year by any lefthanded hitter. 

Perez's fastball worked anywhere from 83-88 mph on the day, preferring to get early strikes at 83-85 and then reaching back for 88 mph later in the count, at will. The fastball has good arm-side life to it, and the angle Perez creates, while allowing the pitch to flatten out a bit at times, was impressive, especially when he got it in on the hands of righthanded hitters. He showed a shorter frisbee slider that he really wanted to land over the arm side corner for a called strike, and also mixed in a changeup. Neither pitch projects above average, but he did mix and match them to good effect.