College | Story | 6/8/2019

Super Regional Spotlight: Day 1

Patrick Ebert        
Photo: Tyler Fitzgerald (Jermaine Bibb | Louisville Athletics)

2019 Super Regional Preview | College Player Database | MLB Draft Preview Content

Tyler Fitzgerald, Louisville
Easily Louisville’s most consistent offensive force during the 2019 season, Fitzgerald had a strong showing during Regional action last weekend and exploded on Friday (as did most of the Cardinals’ offense) with a 4-for-5 performance at the plate. He put Louisville on the board with an RBI double as part of a four-run fourth inning, and overall scored four times with two driven in as part of a 14-1 blowout win over East Carolina. That effort raised Fitzgerald’s season average 10 points to .331.

Fitzgerald’s swing is gesared mostly for contact with a line drive approach and some over-the-fence pop. A righthanded hitter, he is short and direct to the ball with a level swing plane and enough speed to stretch extra-base hits while also having the ability to steal a few bases along the way. He stole 18 bases this year in 23 attempts serving as the team’s leadoff hitter, getting on base roughly 40 percent of the time.

Defensively he has smooth lateral actions and displays solid arm strength across the diamond. A good all-around athlete, Fitzgerald stood out at the 2015 PG National Showcase before being selected to participate in the PG All-American Classic that same summer, and at a listed 6-foot-3, 205-pounds, he has some room to add more strength without losing his current rangy actions.

Ranked 95th overall heading into this year’s draft, the San Francisco Giants selected Fitzgerald in the fourth round of the draft. Here’s his draft report:

One of the top freshmen to make it to campus in the 2016 class, Fitzgerald has started for the Cardinals for the vast majority of his career, and has consistently improved in every facet along the way. He’s really blossomed offensively in 2019, improving upon most of his production numbers, slashing .338/.413/.523 with 13 doubles, seven home runs, and 15 steals to date. A plus athlete who projects to stick at shortstop long term and could also provide some defensive versatility around the infield, the offensive improvement speaks to increased strength, better recognition of breaking balls, and subsequently an improved approach.

Read Fitzgerald’s more detailed College Database Report from March 14 here.

Josh Jung, Texas Tech
Jung had six base hits in three games at the College World Series last summer, but none of the extra-base variety, but he did show plenty of promise at the end of his sophomore season. He’s a larger-than-life presence, looking much bigger than his listed 6-foot-2, 215-pound stature, and moves well on his feet for a big man who should be able to stick at the hot corner.

In Texas Tech’s Super Regional opening 8-6 win over Oklahoma State and their ace Jensen Elliott, Jung went 2-for-5, hitting a single in the first inning before popping up to the second baseman in the second inning with the bases loaded to end a Red Raiders threat. In his next at-bat he lined out before unleashing on a ball to open the seventh for a solo home run to straightaway center field. Jung often is content spraying hard-hit line drives to all parts of the field, showing a willingness to go with pitches not often seen from a player his size, but in this case it was sheer power exhibiting the strength and bat speed that make him special.

His biggest play of the game however came in the top of the eighth. With the Cowboys mounting a threat, Jung, playing shortstop, made a diving stop on ball hit up the middle, quickly sprung to his feet and fired a strike to first base to record the out and end the inning.

The Rangers recognized Jung’s immense talent and selected him eighth overall this past week in the draft. He was ranked 19th overall heading into the draft and here’s what we had to say about him as part of our preview content:

Viewed as one of the safer options in the draft, Texas Tech’sJosh Junghas done nothing but hit since arriving on campus in Lubbock, owning a career OPS of 1.029, including a 1.125 mark in 2019. A patient hitter who doesn’t expand the zone, Jung has consistently walked more than he’s stuck out in his career, something teams certainly pay attention to. The profile isn’t built on a singular loud tool, as Jung has a collection of solid average ones that play together well. Some scouts believe that a plus hit tool exists in Jung’s future to go along with at least solid average game power, which gives him a legitimately impactful offensive upside, and while he’s playing shortstop for the Red Raiders at this point in time, most scouts believe that he’ll end up as a solid defender at third base.

Read our first-hand report on June from the Frisco Classic in early March here.

Karl Kauffmann, Michigan
Kauffmann has somewhat quietly enjoyed a big season, overshadowed earlier in the year by his rotation-mate Tommy Henry after Henry opened the year on an incredible run, which included an impressive performance over UCLA in mid-March as part of the Dodger Stadium Classic at Jackie Robinson Field. Kauffmann enjoyed a similar performance, with a lot more on the line, on Friday, taking down the No. 1 National Seed UCLA in the first game of their best-of-three Super Regional series.

Kauffmann ended up working 8 1/3 innings, allowing just two runs on fours hits and two walks, striking out eight along the way on just 104 pitches. He also induced 10 groundouts, using his heavy 90-93 fastball well to not only miss bats but to induce weak, groundball contact. He did a nice job to mix in both a slider and a changeup, both of which sits in the 84-87 mph range, and the two runs he did allow didn’t occur until the ninth inning, out-dueling UCLA ace Ryan Garcia who was undefeated heading into the game. Michigan is now just one win away from Omaha and a major upset over the Bruins in Los Angeles.

(It should be pointed out that Michigan takes an extended trip through California each and every spring under the leadership of head coach Erik Bakich, so they’re well accustomed to winning games on the road in the Golden State.)

Ranked 101st leading up to the draft, Kauffmann – who participated in the 2015 Perfect Game All-American Classic in high school – was taken by the Rockies in the Competitive Balance B Round last Monday with the 77th overall pick. Here’s his report:

A Perfect Game All-American during the summer of 2015, Kauffmann prepped at Brother Rice, a perennial baseball powerhouse in the Catholic High School League of the metro Detroit area. After somewhat limited innings as a freshman, Kauffmann jumped right into the rotation as a sophomore and has been a mainstay there ever since. He’s having a very good year in 2019 and is peaking at the right time in regards to the draft, as his stuff has been ticking up all season long. He sits at 8-4 with a 2.92 ERA across 83 innings, limiting his walks the best he ever has (2.16/9) while striking out nearly a batter per inning. The fastball works into the mid-90s and has touched as high as 96 mph this spring with excellent life on the pitch, and the slider has come along quite well also, now flashing plus with excellent bite. He’s shown the ability to command three pitches this spring, something he’s never done, a testament to the mechanical rebuild he went through with pitching coach Chris Fetter over the offseason.

For more on Kauffman read his detailed College Player Database report from the Dodger Stadium Classic in mid-March here.

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