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School: Rice; Class: Junior
Position: RHP; B/T: R/R
Height: 6-4; Weight: 200 pounds
Previously Drafted: Pittsburgh Pirates, 50th round, 2011
Background: I’ve long been on the Zech Lemond bandwagon, naming him as a Third Team All-American in February and a month later ranking him as the 23rd best collegiate prospect and a potential first round pick. And in the May Big Board, the 6-foot-4 hurler moved up a spot to #22.
Lemond turned in a solid freshman season in 2012, posting a 32-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 35.2 innings, but it was his record-setting sophomore campaign that really pushed him into focus. Used as a hybrid long reliever/closer, he averaged nearly a punch out per inning and issued just 21 walks across 75.1 innings while eclipsing Rice’s saves record (13) previously healf by David Aardsma and Tony Cingrani.
And after beginning 2014 in the pen, Rice head coach Wayne Graham wisely moved Lemond into the rotation where he’s struck out 48, walked 15 and has surrendered just four extra-base hits in 47.0 innings.
Projection: Sort of the right-handed version of Cingrani, who was drafted by the Reds in the third round three years ago and after spending much of his collegiate career in the bullpen the Reds correctly converted the tall southpaw into a starting pitcher. He’s since been ranked as the 19th best prospect in baseball and owns a career 2.98 ERA through his first 142 innings.
Hopefully, whichever team plucks Lemond in the first round or two follows Cincinnati’s lead.
Lemond, for his part, has been nearly unhittable throughout his collegiate career, posting a 1.92 ERA while averaging 8.55 K/9 and 2.89 BB/9 in his first 159 innings. He’s going to need to be stretched out and his stamina built up, but there’s really no reason to believe that he won’t develop into a good #3-type arm.
Caution: he’s missed some time due to elbow inflammation.
Ceiling: 3.0- to 3.5-win player (starter); 1.5- to 2.0-win player (reliever)
Floor: 1.0-win player
Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate (starter); Above-Average (reliever)
Draft Projection: Second Round
Photo Courtesy of Rogelio V. Solis via bigstory.ap.org.