MLB Draft: 5 College Players Impressing Early

The college baseball season started only two weeks ago, but numerous top 2017 MLB First-Year Player Draft prospects are making an early impact and posting impressive numbers. Here are five college players who are off to tremendous starts this spring:

Brendan McKay, 1B/LHP, Louisville: Brendan McKay is the top two-way player in the 2017 MLB Draft class, possessing the potential to get drafted in the top 10 picks as a pitcher or position player. But right now, teams view McKay as a starter at the next level.

In seven games at the plate, McKay is hitting .619 with three home runs and 11 RBIs. On the mound he’s been just as impressive, posting a 0.82 ERA with 14 strikeouts and four walks in two starts (11 innings) as Louisville’s ace.

Read a detailed profile on McKay here.

J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina: J.B. Bukauskas will likely be one of the first pitchers selected in June’s MLB Draft. The North Carolina ace is off to a notable start, recording a 0.00 ERA with 21 strikeouts and just two walks in 13 innings (two starts).

Bukauskas was a well-regarded MLB Draft prospect coming out of high school in 2014. After deciding to head to college instead of turning pro, Bukauskas posted two mediocre seasons at UNC and has to prove to scouts this spring he’s worthy of being a top 10 pick in June.

Keston Hiura, 2B/OF, UC Irvine: Recovery from an injured elbow, UC Irvine has used Keston Hiura at designated hitter in the team’s first seven game. Hiura is destroying the baseball, hitting .444 with four home runs and 15 RBIs.

He’s one of the top college position players in this year’s MLB Draft class, but his injury will affect his draft stock if he can’t prove he’s healthy by June.

Read a detailed profile on Hiura here.

Jared Poche’, LHP, Louisiana State: LSU’s No. 2 starter behind top draft prospect and right-hander Alex Lange, Jared Poche’ has been nearly unhittable his first two starts of the season. In his first outing, he threw a seven-inning no-hitter against Army. He then nearly threw another no-hitter against Maryland this past Saturday, but it ended in the ninth inning on a leadoff single.

The highly-touted southpaw was a 14th round selectin in the 2016 MLB Draft, but decided to return to LSU for his senior year. In 15 innings this season, Poche’ has a 0.00 ERA with 10 strikeouts and two walks.

Ricky Tyler Thomas, LHP, Fresno State: Entering the season, Ricky Tyler Thomas wasn’t a top 50 draft prospect, but after two weeks, his stock is quickly rising. The lefty stuck out 15 batters in his second start of the season last Friday.

After two start this season, the Fresno State ace has a 0.69 ERA, 24 strikeouts and just two walks in 13 innings.

Find more MLB Draft coverage here.

Dan Zielinski III
Dan Zielinski III
Dan Zielinski III is the creator of the Baseball Prospect Journal and has covered the MLB draft since 2015. His draft work originally appeared on, a sports website he started in December 2011. He also covered the Milwaukee Brewers as a member of the credentialed media for four years. Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.

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