Last year, five Yellow Jackets were selected in the 2016 MLB Draft, with a month and a half of the 2017 season underway, it’s time to take a look at how each former Jacket is performing.
Last year was one of the best years in Georgia Tech baseball history in terms of players being drafted. The 2016 draft saw five different players get selected with the earliest being in the fifth round, but how are each of those players performing so far in 2017?
2B Connor Justus – Los Angeles Angels:
Drafted in the fifth round of last year’s MLB Draft, Justus is currently in the Los Angeles Angels system and with the Inland Empire 66ers of the California League. MLB.com’s prospect line ranks Justus as the Angels 16th best prospect.
Justus started off the season struggling, hitting just .164 in April through 20 games. In those 20 games, Justus struck at 24 times in 73 at-bats while picking up just 12 hits. Since the calendar turned into May, Justus has turned it around. In the first 12 games of May, Justus has collected matched his April hits total of 12 in just 35 at-bats and enters Tuesday night with a slash in May of .343/.520/.543.
If Justus can keep up his hitting and carry it into June and July, the Cartersville, Georgia native could be a candidate for a late-summer promotion to the Angels Double-A affiliate, the Mobile Baybears.
3B Matt Gonzalez – Atlanta Braves:
Gonzalez was a sixth-round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves and is currently with the Rome Braves of the South Atlantic League. Heading into the season, Gonzalez was dealing with some injuries and was placed on the disabled list.
Just last Wednesday Gonzalez was activated from the disabled list. Since being activated, Gonzalez has appeared in all six potential games. Through his first 23 at-bats Gonalez is struggling just a bit, hitting just .174 with just four hits. On Monday, Gonzalez hit his first extra-base hit of the season collecting three RBI on a bases clearing triple.
RHP Brandon Gold – Colorado Rockies
Another sixth-round draft pick, Gold was selected last year by the Colorado Rockies. After a mediocre half season in Low-A ball, Gold was assigned to Ashville of the South Atlantic League to start the season.
Gold this season seems to be a victim of leaving the ball over the middle of the plate. Despite just walking five batters through his first 127 batters faced, Gold has allowed 39 hits and two home runs over his first 29 innings. Gold has shown his ability to strikeout hitters with 34 so far and his command is promising when considering walks but his ability to keep the ball down and minimizing opposing hitters ability to make solid contact will ultimately make or break his career.
RHP Matthew Gorst – Boston Red Sox
The third, fifth round draft pick of last year’s draft from Georgia Tech, Gorst was taken by the Boston Red Sox. After spending half of a season with the Lowell Spinners of the New York Penn League, going 1-0 with a 2.67 ERA, Gorst was assigned to Greenville of the South Atlantc League.
So far, Gorst is having a rough start of the season through his first nine appearances. In those nine appearances, Gorst has allowed 10 earned runs through 16.2 innings pitched. Gorst’s biggest issue so far this season is much like Gold’s issue of leaving the ball over the middle of the plate. Despite just walking a single hitter so far this season, Gorst’s 10 earned runs are all coming due from hits (17) and home runs (4). If Gorst can keep his command at this level and find ways to get hitters out, he could be a candidate to move up the Red Sox system quickly.
C Arden Pabst – Pittsburgh Pirates
A 12th round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates last summer, Pabst was assigned to West Virginia of the South Atlantic League to start the 2017 season.
Pabst was recently involved in a benches-clearing brawl which earned him a minor suspension. After hitting decently in April with a .268 batting average, Pabst is hitting just .231 in May. Pabst is also struggling with right-handers this season hitting just .226 on the season with 14 hits in 62 at-bats.