College | Story | 4/28/2018

College Notebook: April 28

Vincent Cervino        
Photo: Connor Thomas (Danny Karnik: GT Athletics)

College Notebook: April 27Weekend Preview | 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.

 Connor Thomas, LHP, Georgia Tech

The descriptor "crafty lefty" gets thrown around often, seemingly to every southpaw with below average velocity, however that phrase would do a disservice to Georgia Tech sophomore Connor Thomas as the Saturday starter was downright dominant against Wake Forest. Thomas turned in the second consecutive Yellow Jacket complete game as he allowed only one earned run and struck out an absurd 17 batters en route to victory. 

On the surface, the stuff and profile isn't overwhelming. Thomas is a 5-foot-11 lefthander with a fastball up to 87 mph, but his feel, command, and ability to mix pitches all made his stuff play up. One important factor to note is the deception that Thomas creates which makes his pitches very difficult to recognize until they're about thirty feet away. He doesn't necessarily hide the ball, he shows it early through a more offline arm action, but all the pitches look the same out of the hand with very late break to his pitches. 

The fastball was up to 87 mph early and lived in the 84-86 mph range with good life to the arm side, but he didn't go to the fastball very often. Instead, Thomas used his slider and changeup, often in fastball counts too, to induce some ugly swings and misses. The slider worked mostly 78-81 mph with some two-plane break to it and buried the pitch on the back foot of righthanded hitters and around the same location to get chases from lefties. The changeup wasn't used quite as often, in the 81-83 mph range, and, arguably, he used the slider the most out of all his pitches. 

Thomas' command was outstanding and I'm sure catcher Joey Bart was pretty happy with the performance as he didn't need to move his glove more than an inch in either direction. It's fair to say he showed at least above-average command during this performance alone, and Thomas performance ranks among the best of the college season and Thomas looks to be an important arm now and in the future for Georgia Tech. 

Morgan McSweeney, RHP, Wake Forest

Toeing the rubber on Saturday agains the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets was sophomore righthander Morgan McSweeney, who didn't have his best performance on the mound, but still showed off the stuff and profile that makes him one of early top prospects for the 2019 draft class. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound righthander has an ideal frame, fast arm, and requisite stuff to make him an attractive prospect for next year. 

McSweeney was up to 97 mph a few weeks ago during Perfect Game's last look, but during this look McSweeney touched 95 mph early before settling into the 89-93 mph range during the performance. The fastball was mostly straight in terms of life, and McSweeney generates the velocity easily from a short, fast arm stroke that is a bit stiff, but is very repeatable and consistent. 

The loss for McSweeney came down to one bad inning and another bad pitch. The righthander walked four batters in the third inning, including one with the bases loaded, and lost the zone for most of the third while allowing a two-run home run in the seventh off a hanging slider. Absent those few mistakes, McSweeney was actually very much in control of the game, working the strike zone, admittedly working more in the middle than to the corners. 

The slider was a very impressive pitch in the 82-84 mph range, he could drop it in the 78-79 mph range for get-me-over strikes, and showed above-average often, projecting plus with added refinement and development. McSweeney also showed a changeup with lots of life to the arm side in the 84-86 mph range, although he did drop slot on the pitch as an indicator. The end result wasn't the best for McSweeney, but he certainly showed flashes of what makes him a high-end prospect.

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