We’ll jump right in and keep rolling with the fifth, fourth, third, and second ranked high school righthanded pitchers in the 2009 draft class. We’ve covered a good bit so far, but not enough to be intimidated at the prospect of catching up. All the cool kids are doing it!
Top 15 High School Righthanded Pitchers (15 thru 11)
Top 15 High School Righthanded Pitchers (10 thru 6)
Mock Draft 1.0 (or everybody’s favorite feature)
A Method to the Madness (or what we are all about…or everybody’s least favorite feature)
Enough of that. High school righties ranked five thru 2 below the shameless attempt at increased traffic picture of Jessica Simpson that, yes, is tied into the rankings. Find out how below the jump…
5. Scott Griggs – San Ramon Valley HS (California)
Scott Griggs pitches in the low-90s, peaking at 95 MPH, with an above-average change that should be a plus pitch before long. What makes Griggs stand apart from the rest of the crowd (besides the big-time heater) is his impeccable command. This isn’t run of the mill “good for a high schooler” command, this is major league quality, plus potential command. Another quality that I like about Griggs is his sneaky, deceptive delivery. He hides the ball well allowing his already fast fastball to appear, well, even faster. Lastly, Griggs has been praised far and wide for his plus makeup, an added perk that can be an important consideration when trying to find some separation between two similarly talented high school arms.
4. Zack Wheeler – East Paulding HS (Texas)
I’m going to try to put this as delicately as I can while being as cognizant of the hypocritical nature of my forthcoming comments as possible. Simply put, it’s not always easy to write about teenage athletes and their “bodies,” “frames,” and “builds” on a regular basis. It’s probably trickier when it comes to football and basketball, sports that require crazy amounts of size, strength, and speed that are all more or less evident by the simple eyeball test – you are forced to go on and on about a player’s body because of the direct relationship between athleticism and success.
Football and basketball may have more of a premium on sheer athleticism than baseball, but there is still the need to dissect a baseball prospect’s body (not literally, that would be creepy) with respect to how the growth of said body will impact his future as a baseball player. I know I feel a little funny when I read a recruiting or prospecting piece that goes on and on about how wonderful a young athlete’s physique is. It just seems so darn impersonal to reduce a real-life, living and breathing human being to such a simplistic physical description. Modern society is such that there is nothing inherently wrong with either admiring or slagging on another for his or her body, so long as the upkeep of that body has a direct impact on a moneymaking bottom line; Jessica Simpson has made millions off of carefully choreographed image based primarily on flaunting an outstanding body across many different media, so, fair or unfair, she has to be prepared for some severe backlash when she shows up at a concert out of shape. It makes perfect sense for a sports writer to comment, either positively or negatively, on an athlete’s build within the context of evaluating said athlete’s athletic potential. Describing an athlete’s actual body can help a reader develop a visual in their mind. It can also aid in understanding the developmental path the athlete is most likely to follow. In the end, there is no escaping the need to highlight the pros and cons of an athlete’s physique, so long as it is done in a manner that follows the Golden Rule.
All that is the preface to me saying Zack Wheeler has the kind of frame that scouts everywhere love to dream on. He’s a lanky 6-4, 180 (lanky, but athletic – Wheeler can get above the rim and throw down 360 dunks) with plenty of room to fill out, and, if things go according to plan, capable of adding some serious velocity. If Wheeler was throwing in the high-80s, he’d be a very intriguing prospect based on the prospect of physical maturity and increased heat alone. However, the kid is already sitting comfortably in the low-90s (91-92) and has hit 94-95 MPH on the gun out of the bullpen at the summer showcases. Add a couple of ticks to that fastball and you are really on to something. Wheeler’s very good curve, power slider, and burgeoning splitter all complement the fastball well.
3. Mychal Givens – Plant HS (Florida)
Givens has arguably the top fastball in this year’s high school class. His speedball has been clocked anywhere from 96-98 MPH. The beautiful thing is that his best pitch defines the term “velocity” in that the vector physical quantity of the pitch covers both the speed and direction of the baseball. Givens’ fastball isn’t just fast, it sinks and moves all over the place. Givens’ slider and change both need much refinement, but his overwhelming fastball and overall pitching aptitude — he plays short when not pitching and may be the top prep middle infielder in his class, yet still shows good feel on the mound – make him a premium prospect. As of now, Givens’ reminds me a little bit of Kyle Drabek, minus Drabek’s excellent spike curve. A spring of tightening up his breaking stuff should have him picked a little bit ahead of where Drabek went a few years back (18th overall in 2006).
2. Jacob Turner – Westminster Academy (Missouri)
- Good size? Is 6-4, 205 good enough? Check.
- Good athlete? Solid, if not spectacular. Check.
- Clean mechanics out of a ¾ delivery? Check.
- Fastball velocity? How does a peak velocity of 93-94 MPH sound?
- Good command? Check.
- Off-speed repertoire? Curveball is already a plus pitch and circle change should be an average big league offering, at worst.
- College scholarship from a school that knows pitching? If North Carolina wants you to pitch for them, you’re probably a good one. If you decided to Carolina only after turning down Vanderbilt, you’re almost certainly a good one. Those two universities have coaching staffs that really know their pitching. Check.
The “Turner as 2009′s Tim Melville” storyline has already been beat into the ground and it’s only the beginning of February – that’s the way the world works, right? Find a storyline that works and just keep throwing it out there over and over and over and over again. How frustrating. Anyway, because I like to be part of the problem and not the solution, I’ll just go right ahead and join in with the comparison. Taken from Mock Draft 1.0:
The most cited comp for Turner, Missouri’s top prep arm of 2008, is Tim Melville, Missouri’s top prep arm of 2008. Melville was considered one of the safest bets to go in the top few picks of last year’s draft until the deadly combination of an up and down senior year of high school and signability concerns torpedoed his stock all the way down to the 115th overall pick. While I’m sure Jacob Turner would like a better outcome on his draft day, I don’t think he’d mind the payday Melville wound up getting. ..
Turner stands 6-4, 205 with a fastball that has touched 93-94 MPH, a shade less than the reported 95 MPH peak that Melville has hit. Their offspeed repertoire is similar, but, again, Melville’s curve and change are each a touch better than Turner’s present offerings. Melville may have more raw talent than Turner, but Turner is skilled enough to warrant a high first round grade, especially if he has a big spring.
So, that’ll wrap up our top 15 high school righthanded pitchers series. Ha, thought you could get out of this that easy, did you? Not so fast, my friend. We still have one more name to cover. Find out who it is on Monday…