College arms race heats up

Updated: March 26, 2012, 6:37 PM ET
By Jason A. Churchill

A college pitcher has been the No. 1 pick in the Rule 4 draft on 13 occasions, including in four of the past six years. Last June, more than a third of the first-round selections were college pitchers, highlighted by the first three overall picks -- Gerrit Cole, Danny Hultzen and Trevor Bauer. The 2012 class of college arms is gaining steam, meaning a similar result may unfold this time around, too.

The top college pitching prospects all made a case for No. 1 over the weekend with Stanford's Mark Appel, San Francisco's Kyle Zimmer, Michael Wacha of Texas A&M and St. Mary's ace Martin Agosta each tossing a complete game.

None of them, however, would be named our star of the week, if there was such an award. Missouri State right-hander Pierce Johnson, who is climbing draft boards, went the distance and struck out 16 in a 5-hit shutout win against Creighton, which had day two draft prospect Ty Blatch on the bump. Johnson has now whiffed 10 or more in four straight starts and boasts a 1.94 ERA and 66-16 strikeout-walk ratio in six outings on the season.