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College  | Story  | 3/11/2018

Texas Tech salvages Game 3

Photo: Texas Tech Athletics

Weekend PreviewPerfect Game College Player Database
Quick Takes: Houston
| Vanderbilt | Sam Houston State
Friday Recap: Linginfelter slams door for Vols
 | Saturday Recap: Wildcats claims statement series

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.

Caleb Kilian, rhp, Texas Tech

Texas Tech sophomore righthander Caleb Kilian has filled a bit of a fireman role for head coach Tim Tadlock this season, and has been highly successful doing so. The wiry-built 6-foot-4, 180-pound sophomore still has plenty of room to fill out, and could potentially have some utility as a starting pitcher moving forward, especially after how successfully he held his stuff over the course of 64 pitches of long relief in Texas Tech's only win vs. Kentucky. 

Kilian's arm stroke is super long through the back, occasionally struggling to create leverage and also get on time through release, but the arm is loose and quick enough to where he's able to overcome the mechanical difficulties and do a fair job of throwing strikes. The fastball peaked at 94 mph and he hit it several times over the course of his 3 1/3 innings on the mound, sitting in the 90-94 mph range and showing the ability to work the ball down in the zone with solid average life. He took a bit to find his curveball feel, but when he did it was a decent enough, fringe average pitch in the 72-75 mph range, a bit softer with 11-to-5 shape and solid depth, with the ability to land it for a strike. The changeup, which he trusted and went to frequently, was a solid average to a bit above offering, thrown in the low-80s with very good deception out of the hand. He was comfortable throwing the changeup to righthanded hitters, even doubling up on it to righties, with good effectiveness and diving action at the plate. 

A draft-eligible sophomore due to his age, Kilian has some things to like about his profile. He has a projectable body with looseness to his arm and good velocity projection, and shows the makings of a potentially plus changeup with some ease of operation to the delivery. With Steven Gingery out for the season and a bit of a concern as to who will start Sundays for the Red Raiders moving forward, it would be especially interesting from a draft perspective if Kilian were to pick up some starts over the course of the rest of the season.

Gabe Holt, 2b, Texas Tech

A south Georgia native who finds himself leading Texas Tech in hitting as a true freshman, Gabe Holt hits leadoff for the Red Raiders and plays second base, and leads the team with a .424 batting average through his first 17 college games. A slender, athletically-built lefthanded hitter, Holt profiles quite well at second base for now, with lots of range and athletic twitch that plays well in the middle infield, and the athleticism is such that it wouldn't be a stretch to see him eventually see time in center field, though the arm is light for the shortstop position. He handles the bat extremely well, making for frustratingly tough at-bats for opposing pitchers, with the ability to manipulate the barrel in such a way that allows him to foul off tough pitches while waiting for something he can barrel up, which he does frequently. There's some Brett Gardner to his offensive profile, with a very good approach (he's walked more than he's struck out thus far this season) and sneaky pop, with the ability to not only work counts and get on base but also pack some punch. 

Holt is a plus runner whose speed plays on the bases, as he's 9-for-9 in stolen base attempts this season, and the baseball instincts are above that of a typical freshman, although it is important to point out that Holt is already over 20 years old as a true freshman. Being that much older than the rest of his class means he will be eligible for the draft next year in 2019, so it'll be intriguing how his profile lines up with the rest of that class. Right now, 15 months away from the 2019 draft, Holt in profiles with a mid-Day 2 follow grade, though obviously a lot can change one way or the other over the course of those 15 months.

Justin Lewis, rhp, Kentucky

Kentucky's Sunday starter, Justin Lewis took his first loss of the season vs. Texas Tech, though he did strike out 10 over the course of his six inning, 103-pitch outing. Lewis has been a bit inconsistent this year in that he doesn't walk many and misses a ton of bats, but at the same time has been a bit more homer-prone this year so far, which has certainly hurt him, as it did on this day. Lewis is a long, lanky, athletically-built righthander who has good projection remaining on his 6-foot-7, 205-pound frame despite being a bit more narrow through the shoulders and hips. He, like Sean Hjelle, repeats his delivery extremely well for someone with that kind of body length, and as such he's one of the nation's best strike throwers. 

Lewis worked in the 87-92 mph range with his fastball on this day, showing plus life to the pitch, allowing it to play up in effectiveness from the raw velocity numbers. The cold (it was roughly 45 degrees at first pitch) likely didn't help in his leaving a few of those fastballs up and flat, and it took Lewis a few innings to really find the feel for his secondary pitches as well. The changeup almost acts more like a screwball, thrown in the mid-70s with significant velocity differential from his fastball, and very good fading action. It's kind of a gimmicky pitch that is extremely effective at the collegiate level, but good professional hitters can make an adjustment on a changeup with that sort of velocity differential off the fastball, so it'll be especially interesting to see how Lewis fares with that pitch in particular at the next level.

The breaking ball was, in a word, frustrating from an evaluative perspective. It was anywhere from 77-84 mph, showing extreme bite and sharpness at 83-84 with more of a true slider tilt, but Lewis was seemingly content to try and shape it like a curveball in the upper-70s to land it for a strike. There's undoubtedly feel to spin the baseball there and it's a positive that Lewis shows the ability to manipulate the shape of the pitch. 

On the whole, from a draft perspective, Lewis looks like he's a pretty solid mid-Day 2 selection right now, somewhere in the 5-7 round range. He has a chance for three average to a tick above pitches with good strikes and an athletic delivery, giving him a quality overall arsenal.