Today we continue with our look at the top 15 draft-eligible high school righthanded pitchers in the country. Yesterday, we met Jordan Cooper, Ethan Carter, Chris Jenkins, Brody Colvin, and Michael Heller. In case you missed it and can’t be bothered to look down the page, here’s what we’ve done so far:
Top 15 High School Righthanded Pitchers (15 thru 11)
Mock Draft 1.0 (or everybody’s favorite feature)
A Method to the Madness (or what we are all about)
We haven’t done a whole lot just yet, so there’s still time to catch up. Do it! Do it now! I’ll wait…
Anyway, players 10 thru 6 are next up. For a hint at one of the names on the list, check out the video below. Now I know what you’re thinking – I’m good like that. You’re thinking, come on man, this is nothing more than a transparent attempt to try out embedding a video for the first time. Well, congratulations – you’ve got me all figured out. But, honestly, it’s a good video and it does reveal the top name on today’s part of the list…and I know you are just dying to know who it is.
A new batch of names, including the young man featured in the video above, after the jump…
10. Matt Graham – Oak Ridge HS (Texas)
Matt Graham holds a special place in my heart as the most difficult player to find a spot for in the rankings. Last year at this time it wasn’t strange to see Graham listed on lists of the top ten amateur players in the country. Fast forward twelve months and it is debatable as to whether or not he is a top ten righthanded high school pitcher. Graham’s slide coincided with the disappearance of his good stuff, most notably a big decline in fastball velocity. He followed the disappointing end to his junior season with a strong rebound on the summer showcase circuit. If his resurgence continues into the spring, expect to hear a lot of buzz surrounding the sturdy Texan with a potential plus fastball, good curve, and a heavy sinker.
9. Mark Appel – Monte Vista HS (California)
Appel’s strong verbal commitment to Stanford will drop him down draft boards, but he is a great athlete, with a wiry frame with room to fill out, an impressive hard slider, solid change, and the ability to play around with his fastball (mostly by cutting and sinking it). The Cardinal normally get their man, so Appel’s signability will be something to keep on eye on.
8. Daniel Tuttle – Randleman HS (North Carolina)
Finally, some real separation. The pitchers from this point on all offer something unique that sets them apart from the rest of the field. Tuttle’s breaking ball, a plus 10-4 slider with tight spin, is the pitch that sets him apart. The slider/sinker combo should serve him in inducing groundballs going forward, and a solid changeup makes for a usable fourth pitch. Prep pitchers with two plus pitches (the slider and a fastball that sits 90-94 MPH) tend to go high on draft day, and Tuttle should be no exception.
7. Brooks Pounders – Temecula Valley HS (California)
Remember what I said about always being honest with this site? Of course you don’t, only four people read this thing. Anyway, I’ll prove my point about honesty by admitting that, although I think this group of righties is collectively better than the one preceding it, the pitchers ranked 10 through 6 are far less interesting an assortment of characters than 15 through 11. Thankfully, Brooks Pounders is such an intriguing prospect that he more than makes up for the lackluster backstories of the rest.
These rankings will be revised a couple different times before June, but I’m tempted to scoot Pounders up a few spots right here, right now. Pounders has the early lead as my favorite under the radar prospect among prep righthanded pitchers. Of course, one could easily argue that he is very, very much on the radar of those who, you know, actually do this for a living. Then again, one could also argue that all of these prospects are under the radar of even some of the most hardcore baseball fans because, well, it takes a special, obsessive fan to delve this deep into the murky waters of prospectdom. I’ll split the difference and qualify the top four names (yet to be revealed!) on this particular list “big names” by defining them as universally regarded first round caliber talents. Pounders isn’t in the class quite yet, but he is very, very close to a major breakthrough.
The first thing to jumps out about Pounders is his size; he has a gigantic frame (6-5, 220), but, more than just that, he really knows how to use his size and strength to his advantage on the mound. He pitches from a downward plane with a heavy fastball (90-94 MPH) that he can put anywhere he wants.
I also love the prep archetype that Pounders fits to a tee. My favorite story about a young pitcher is the one about the guy who “really knows how to pitch,” but then suddenly sees his velocity jump. It’s tricky to find a young pitcher who can be effective without his best stuff, so the players who learned how to pitch before developing the plus stuff can be extremely valuable properties. Pounders showed that advanced feel for pitching back when he was topping out in the mid-80s; now that he throws in the low- to mid-90s, he can apply the lessons he has learned with his new found ace stuff. In Pounders’ case, true ace stuff equals the aforementioned plus fastball, a true spinning slider with plus potential, a curveball that should at least be an above-average pitch, and an effective sinking changeup.
Sounds pretty good so far, right? Wait, there’s more! Some teams prefer Pounders with a bat in his hands. He is an easy top five round worthy selection as a power hitting, smooth fielding third baseman. He’s good.
6. Keyvius Sampson – Ocala Forest HS (Florida)
Sampson is one of the most athletic pitchers in the draft with a sharp curve that has the potential to be a plus pitch. His fastball sits in the low 90s and has peaked at 95 MPH. That 95 MPH is his peak thus far; it would be a big upset if he doesn’t top that over and over again as his wiry frame fills out. Sampson’s plus athleticism leads to a very fluid, repeatable delivery (see for yourself above). He also features a good curve (80-81 MPH). I’m comfortable slapping a first round grade on him at this point and, quite frankly, don’t see all that much of a difference between Sampson and a higher ranked pitcher on my list to be named later. Now that’s what we call a tease…
Top five high school righthanded pitchers tomorrow. As if Fridays weren’t exciting enough already…