We’ll begin with our early look at the 2009 draft class by taking a position by position gander at the names, college and prep, you’ll be hearing plenty about this spring. It seems only fitting to start with the strongest position in this year’s draft – righthanded pitchers. As in most years the depth of high school arms is impressive on paper, but so much can change between now and draft day that trying to sort through the names is a fool’s errand. Luckily, there is no denying the fact that, yes, I am a fool, so it looks like we are going to try to sort these players out after all.
Here’s the schedule for the next few days -
- Today: High School RHSPs 15 through 11
- Tomorrow: High School RHSPs 10-6
- Friday: High School RHSPs 5-1
The bottom third of the top fifteen high school righthanded pitchers coming up right after the jump…
Not unlike that old guy on the dollar bill, I hate lying. Therefore, I vow to be nothing but truthful with everything I write on this site. In that vein, I’m here to tell you that there is very little to distinguish one high school righthander from another at this point in the game. At this stage you’re looking at rankings that don’t represent a whole lot more than personal preference – personal preferences grounded in reason and research, but personal preferences all the same. There is very little differentiation between the prospects outside of the elite group, so you really need to carefully comb over the details until you are comfortable staking your claim on one player over another.
Of course, that’s what makes this fun, right? A huge part of the appeal to all of this draft analysis mumbo jumbo comes from trying to pick out the special qualities that will help some players grow into big leaguers, while simultaneously being aware that many possess potential fatal flaws in their games that may prevent them from ever getting out of AA ball. Nobody is saying that the player ranked 12th is absolutely, positively a better prospect than the player ranked 14th; no, that would be flat out silly and, between you and me, a little bit irresponsible. True, the list does represent a rough sketch of what the draft board could look like come June, but rankings like this are designed more as a starting off point, and a means to discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of the players listed.
15. Jordan Cooper – Shelbyville Central HS (Tennessee)
Cooper doesn’t possess quite the talent of last year’s prized University of Kentucky recruit and Red Sox draftee Alex Meyer, but his own commitment to join Meyer on the Wildcats staff is one to take seriously. He won’t be an easy sign, but armed with a fastball topping out at 91 MPH, a power breaking ball equal parts CB and SL, and a very strong academic record, it figures a team will still make a strong run at him in the first few rounds if they can think they can work out a deal. As much as teams will be working towards gauging Cooper’s signability, the bigger concern over his eventual draft position may be the injury that caused him to miss his sophomore year. Expect to see Cooper’s medical records getting a very close look this spring.
14. Ethan Carter – Menchville HS (Virginia)
Eerily similar stuff to the guy ranked below him (ranked below him on my top 15, but not physically below him since the list is in descending order – yeah, I’m confused by it too), but his classic big-bodied pitcher’s frame (6-5, 205) gives him the edge in projectability. Truth be told, his stuff is probably a tick better across the board than Cooper’s – slightly better present fastball heat, more advanced and varied breaking stuff, and a real changeup. Carter has a chance to fly up this list with a good spring, something that is easy to envision this big righty with sterling makeup doing.
13. Chris Jenkins – Westfield HS (New Jersey)
There is plenty to like about Chris Jenkins, namely a heavy fastball that touches 94 MPH and sits in the low 90s, a potential low 80s MPH power slider, a gigantic frame (6-7, 235), and interest from schools like Stanford and Duke. There is also plenty to dislike about Chris Jenkins, namely his spotty command, and high effort delivery. Jenkins’ raw potential is undeniable, but he is a long way away from unlocking it. I know I previously compared Ethan Carter to Jordan Cooper, but perhaps the better comparison is between the two big righties, Carter and Jenkins. Carter has a touch more polish at present, but very few pitchers, Carter included, stack up with Jenkins when it comes to upside.
12. Brody Colvin – St. Thomas More HS (Louisiana)
Colvin’s fastball sits comfortably in the low 90s with potential for growth. His arsenal also features a fairly tight 10-4 curve and an effective straight change. He is a strong commit to LSU and many in the know seem to believe Colvin has a better than average shot at winding up in Baton Rogue. However, like every player on the list, strong college commitments can weaken very quickly once high six figure bonuses (or more) are promised. What I think makes pursuing a prospect like Colvin worthwhile for a team is his promising blend of plus athleticism and strong present stuff.
11. Michael Heller – Cardinal Mooney HS (Florida)
Eerily similar stuff to the guy ranked below him on the list (ranked below him on my top 15, but not physically below him since the list is in descending order- yeah, I’m still a tad confused by it too), but…wait, haven’t we done this before? Michael Heller and Brody Colvin share a similar skillset, but, much like the earlier comparison between Cooper and Carter, the player higher in the rankings is ranked that way for a reason. Heller and Colvin may share a very similar skillset, but there are enough slight differences between them to justify choosing one over the other – this is exactly what we were talking about at the onset, finding the minute differences between two players and drawing your own conclusions.
Your scorecard may have a different winner than mine, but here’s how it breaks down.
- Colvin has two inches and ten pounds on Heller (6-4, 190 vs. 6-2, 180)
- The differences in sitting velocity depend on the day – both sit in the low 90s, but Heller’s peak is a little higher than Colvin’s
- Both throw straight mid-70s changeups that show promise, but need real work
- Both feature curves as their top breaking pitch, but Heller’s is a smidge more refined at this point
- They are both plus athletes and good high school hitters, but Heller is better in both phases of the game
What I liked best about Colvin is his athleticism and present stuff; Heller has him beat by just enough in each regard to make up for the advantage Colvin holds in projectability. Heller over Colvin for the coveted eleventh spot on my list, but it’s close.
So there you have it, the 15th, 14th, 13th, 12th, and 11th best high school righthanded pitchers in the country.