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Short Righthanders with Nontraditional Mechanics

This was originally going to be a Random Draft Thoughts post, but I’ve gone a little off the deep end with discussing one of my favorite 2012 draft prospects that we’ll step back and let the spotlight stay on him for the time being. Minor site announcement will be up in the next few days, so be on the lookout for that. Until then, let’s talk short righties…

Marcus Stroman and Lance McCullers can and should start professionally at the onset of their respective careers. That in and of itself isn’t particularly noteworthy — the pro-Stroman faction is growing with each passing day — so I’m happy to go a step further and state that I think both pitchers will thrive in the rotation as pros. I’ll stay off the soapbox and avoid discussing the unfounded majority views that certain players can’t work as starters because of their height/weight (malarkey!) and/or “reliever arm action” (I’m willing to entertain this thought, but, as I’ve always said, if the pitcher can repeat his delivery consistently, I don’t care how he looks throwing the ball), and I’ll instead choose to focus on the many things each guy does well. I feel like Stroman has been talked to death already (short version: plus fastball, plus slider, above-average change, holds velocity, gets ground balls, destroys righties, struggles against lefties), so lets focus on (the also widely discussed, but whatever) McCullers.

McCullers has a plus fastball that gets high marks for both its easy, late game velocity and much improved command. To wit, the young righthander had a a brief spell of “Mark Appel disease” last summer when he threw far too many hittable strikes, but has recovered to refine his pitch sequencing (I always give credit to young pitchers for this as their right of last refusal on the mound remains the last line of defense before a pitch is thrown…it may not happen a ton, but few things are more amusing when a star high schooler shakes off a sign that has been relayed to the catcher by the manager), establish his fastball in pitchers’ locations earlier in the count, and, most importantly, fine tune his secondary stuff to the point that he’ll now throw either his secondary or tertiary pitches in any count.

Hey, speaking of McCullers’ secondary pitch, his 79-84 spike curve is a true plus offering with outstanding shape and much improved command. I’m always impressed to see any pitcher, let alone a high school guy, throw knuckle curves with any kind of consistency. It took McCullers some adjustment time, but when the light when on with that pitch, his overall game really took off. I’m also completely on board with his mid-80s changeup. One of the downsides of being such a dominant prep pitcher is only really needing to rely on one or two plus offerings. McCullers hasn’t busted out the change in game action as often as some might feel comfortable with before slapping on a future 60 grade, but he’s shown enough in bullpens that I’m happy to go there. It doesn’t hurt that he’s showing it off more and more with each outing, of course. Smart kid.

So we’re left with a young righthander with two clear plus pitches and a third with the potential to be above-average or better in time. I know this isn’t exactly a revolutionary concept here, but, come on, this kid is a starting pitching all the way at this point. Enough people around the game now believe the same thing, so maybe I’m arguing against nobody here. I hope that’s the case because I’d really like to see what McCullers could do as a pro starting pitcher. How early will a team want to pull the trigger on actually drafting McCullers? To answer that, let’s take a look at his peer group. After Lucas Giolito, a pitcher with a few questions to answer himself, which righthanded prep arm has separated himself from the rest of the pack? Without yet giving away my personal preference list, I’d venture Zach Eflin, Walker Weickel, Nick Travieso, Mitchell Traver, Ty Buttrey, Shane Watson, Chase DeJong, Duane Underwood, JO Berrios, and Ty Hensley all warrant some consideration for ranking at such lofty heights. Is there one name that stands out above all the rest? The trio of Florida guys that kick the last group off all probably have the best shot to go second after Giolito (yes, I’m being stubborn on Weickel), but the field is truly wide open. Not sure where any of this leaves us with respect to McCullers, but it does give a nice segue into the aforementioned site announcement at the start of this rant. Stay tuned for that…

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1 Comment

  1. […] Escobar, Al Alburquerque, and Fautino De Los Santos — taught me a lesson. It even inspired a post a few months later that just so happens to lead us right back to Bukauskas’s prospect stock. […]

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