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Draft Retrospective: 2009 MLB Draft Top Fifteen High School RHP (11-15)
I haven’t seen this year’s college guys perform at a showcase environment for the obvious reason that such events don’t exist, but, boy, after getting the chance to watch some of this year’s high school class up close and personal, I just don’t see how the 2012 college players can stack up. More on this to come, of course, but now back to our regularly scheduled retrospective posting…
We’ve done this before, so you know the drill. Prospects 1-10 can be found at the links below while prospects 11-15 can be found below the links. I’ve also included every high school righthander selected in the 2009 Draft’s first ten rounds…
Matt Hobgood – Zack Wheeler – Jacob Turner – Shelby Miller – Brooks Pounders – Garrett Gould – Bryan Berglund – Tanner Bushue – Jake Barrett – Keyvius Sampson – Matt Heidenreich – Brooks Hall – Daniel Tuttle – Nicholas McBride – Damien Magnifico – James Needy – Zack Von Rosenberg – Matt Graham – Steven Inch – Branden Kline – Daniel Reynolds – Trent Stevenson – Brandon Martinez – Josh Hodges – Brody Colvin – Madison Younginer – Aaron Northcraft – Tom Lemke
…as well as a few interesting names of note taken later in the draft:
Mark Appel – Drew Hutchison – Dane Williams – Pierce Johnson – Luke Bard – Jordan Cooper – Dylan Floro – Michael Heller – Scott Griggs – Tanner Poppe – Matt Koch – Justin Bellez – Keifer Nuncio – Michael Morin – Kyle Hansen – Jeff Soptic – Kenny Giles – Hudson Randall – Jeff Ames – Jeff Gibbs – Buck Farmer – Vince Spilker
I think the trio of Miller, Turner, and Wheeler, plus guys like Gould, Sampson, Colvin, and Younginer combine to give the pro prospects of 2009 a leg up on their 2012 college prospect counterparts, but it is closer than I would have initially guessed. There is still enough untapped upside in the arms of Griggs, Barrett, Hansen, Gibbs, Heller, and Jenkins that the gap between the two classes (well, one class really with two divergent paths), though I suppose you could say the same about a half dozen of the underperforming pros on that last, too. The 2012 college guys have their clear star in Appel, as well as complementary parts that sure seem like good bets to be solid pros in guys like Farmer, Stroman, Kline, Morin, Floro, and, yes, even Randall. It should be noted that this analysis of the 2012 college class does not include any prospect not selected as part of the 2009 Draft. That excludes the undrafted Michael Wacha and the drafted in 2010 Kevin Gausman.
- Draft Retrospective: 2009 MLB Draft Top Fifteen High School RHP (1-5)
- Draft Retrospective: 2009 MLB Draft Top Fifteen High School RHP (6-10)
11. Michael Heller | Cardinal Mooney HS (FL) | Pittsburgh Pirates | 29th Round (2009)
After a season lost to injury in 2011, Heller’s biggest challenge in 2012 will be getting enough innings to show big league teams that he is a) 100% healthy and b) still in possession of the big league stuff he showed as a high school standout. This could be nothing more than a passing notion, but lately I’ve been thinking of Heller, through no real fault of his own, as a guy who will show a lot more as a pro than he ever did/will do in college. In other words, I’m still on the bandwagon.
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
12. Brody Colvin | St. Thomas More HS (LA) | Philadelphia Phillies | 7th Round (2009)
3.87 ERA – 79 IP – 56 K/27 BB – 1.52 GO/AO
More was expected of Colvin in 2011, and justifiably so, but he is still holding his own in High A as a 20 year old. Colvin has also not experienced any kind of dip in stuff as he still throws in the low-90s with two above-average secondary pitches. Recent rumblings out of Clearwater point to a possible return engagement in High A next year.
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.
13. Chris Jenkins | Westfield HS (NJ)
I’m not really sure what has happened to Jenkins since we saw him last, but I’ll play the role of irresponsible journalist and go ahead and assume he was injured in 2011. He heads back to Stanford as a draft-eligible sophomore in 2012. The talent remains, but, unfortunately, so do the questions — command, delivery, injury risk, possibility he’ll stick with Stanford for another year — that held him back as a prep star. One player does not a trend make, but I’m starting to grow increasingly wary of big guys with iffy mechanics. I know, not exactly a bombshell of a revelation on my part, but as somebody who was tantalized by the promise of good Andrew Brackman back in his Wolfpack days (when he was right, he looked soooooo good), it is the first step to admitting that I’m finally on my way to overcoming my “big pitcher = big upside” obsession.
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.
14. Ethan Carter | Menchville HS (VA)
1.75 ERA – 77 IP – 78 K/9 BB
Carter has arguably had as eventful a two year run as any other pitcher on this list. He was first kicked off the team at South Carolina (note that in his pre-draft report I mentioned his “sterling makeup” – without knowing all the facts, I’ll just say that this scouting business isn’t easy) following his freshman year. Then he enrolled at Louisburg College, where you can see his 2011 numbers above. Getting the boot from your championship winning college team stinks for a lot of reasons, but it must be especially painful to then see said college team win a second straight national championship without you on the team. Now, and this is the fun twist to our tale, the last I’ve heard is that he has been given the green light to head back to South Carolina for his junior year. Whether or not this comes to fruition remains to be seen, but that’s the very latest information I have on the ongoing Ethan Carter soap opera. Lost in all this is that Carter has really interesting stuff, impeccable control, and a big league ready frame.
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.
15. Jordan Cooper | Shelbyville Central HS (TN)
8.76 ERA – 12.1 IP – 8 K/6 BB – 1.33 GO/AO
Cooper went undrafted in 2009, instead opting to follow through on his very strong commitment to Kentucky. It was a surprise (at least to me) to see that he signed this year as a 23rd round choice of the Pittsburgh Pirates as a draft-eligible sophomore. He’s currently making the transition to pro ball as a 21 year old in Short Season ball where early reports cite an improved fastball, the tightening of that slurve (now considered a pretty good slider), and more refined change as reasons why his upside as a big league starting pitcher remains within reach.
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.
Looking Forward to the Past
Catchy title, right? There’s not quite enough there to keep it from being pretty much meaningless, but it’s just snappy enough to somehow appear superficially deep. A long time ago, a wise man was heard to remark, “In order to look forward, we must first reconcile what we’ve learned from the past.” Alright, a wise man didn’t actually say that. Unless you consider me a wise man, something I promise you yourselves would be wise not to do. And it wasn’t said a long time ago either. Not unless thirty seconds constitutes a long time, that is. There was a point here, I promise.
Oh, right. In lieu of following my own not-so-strict personal content schedule, I thought we’d instead wrap up our look at the ’09 prep righthanders by comparing this year’s class of high school pitching with the 2008 group. We’re looking back at the past to learn a little something about the future. I love it when it all comes full circle like that. No conclusions can really be drawn on data (such as it is) one year out of a draft class’s debut, so this exercise is more about the casual talent comparison of the ’08 prep righties and the ’09 class. One thing it is definitely NOT about is filling time and space with a quick and easy post because other more substantive stuff isn’t quite ready. No sirs and madams, that’s not it all…
2008 Prep Righthanded Pitchers – Personal Top 15 [as of 6/08]
1. Ethan Martin
2. Alex Meyer
3. Gerrit Cole
4. Ross Seaton
5. Jake Odorizzi
6. Zeke Spruill
7. Tim Melville
8. Kyle Wieland
9. Michael Palazzone
10. Jason Knapp
11. Daniel Webb
12. Tyler Sample
13. Sonny Gray
14. Trey Haley
15. Tyler Chatwood
Elite athleticism and evidence of a plus or potential plus breaking ball were big-time considerations in making up this list. The highest pick of the group was Ethan Martin (15th overall). The lowest pick of the group was Sonny Gray (821st overall). There were 2 first rounders, 1 supplemental first rounder, 3 second rounders, 1 supplemental second rounder, 1 third rounder, 1 supplemental third rounder, 2 fourth rounders, 1 twelfth rounder, 1 eighteenth rounder, 1 twentieth rounder, and 1 twenty-seventh rounder.
Martin and Cole were first rounders. Odorizzi was a supplemental first rounder. Chatwood, Haley, and Knapp were second rounders. Spruill was a supplemental second rounder. Sample was a third rounder. Seaton was a supplemental third rounder. Wieland and Melville were 4th rounders. Webb was a 12th rounder. Palazzone was an 18th rounder. Alex Meyer was a 20th rounder, and Sonny Gray was a 27th rounder.
Quick Observations: 9/15 went in the first three rounds, 6/15 fell far further than talent dictated due to signability concerns (Cole, Melville, Webb, Palazzone, Meyer, and Gray – all but Melville went the college/junior college route), and twelfth is a very weird looking word in print…
2008 Prep Righthanded Pitchers Picked in the First Five Rounds (Players Not in My Top 15)
Lyles went in the supplemental first round. Lintz went in the second round. Eichorn went in the third. Pettibone went in the third round (supplemental). Petersen, Cline, and May went in the fourth round. Lasker went in the fifth.
My Island Players – the players nobody, including many scouting directors, seemed to like nearly as much as I did
O’Sullivan wasn’t entirely unloved, he was a 10th round pick. Cooper, Winkler, and Magill had various degrees of success on draft day – they went in the 17th, 37th, and 31st rounds, respectively. Dicharry went undrafted and is now a freshman on the Texas pitching staff.
Note: the island player list isn’t the BS list you’ll see in other places. I mean, come on – “I had [consensus top five round talent] as my big sleeper!” isn’t really going out on that big a limb, you know? It’s good to have favorite guys like that, but you need to admit that they aren’t exactly the deepest of sleepers to anybody who regularly follows this stuff. So much of prospecting (the business side of it, that is) is about exploiting casual fans that don’t regularly follow the dregs of baseball (minors and draft) by sensationalizing the idea of “under the radar” players. I promise to stay away from that here, but, if I slip up, please please please call me out on it.
Stacking up the ’09’s with the ’08’s
Here was our top 15 2009’s: Shelby Miller, Jacob Turner, Mychal Givens, Zack Wheeler, Scott Griggs, Keyvius Sampson, Brooks Pounders, Daniel Tuttle, Mark Appel, Matt Graham, Michael Heller, Brody Colvin, Chris Jenkins, Ethan Carter, Jordan Cooper
The top 15 2008’s were listed above. So, if we had to put the lists together and rank them as if they were one great big giant class, who would go where? A very rough guess might look something like this (2009’s in bold):
1. Ethan Martin
2. Alex Meyer
3. Shelby Miller
4. Gerrit Cole
5. Ross Seaton
6. Jake Odorizzi
7. Zeke Spruill
8. Tim Melville
9. Jacob Turner
10. Mychal Givens
11. Zack Wheeler
12. Scott Griggs
13. Keyvius Sampson
14. Brooks Pounders
15. Kyle Wieland
16. Michael Palazzone
17. Jason Knapp
18. Daniel Webb
19. Tyler Sample
20. Sonny Gray
Only 7 of the top 20 from the combined list are 2009’s. This blows my theory that the 2009 class looks stronger (at this point) right on out of the water. I won’t lie – part of the reason I wanted to compare the two classes was to “prove” that the 2009 class was superior. Seeing the list above really brings the following point home: coming to a conclusion and then working backwards to prove it is a bad, bad idea. The list also illuminates the absurdity of ranking high school pitchers so early in the process. One of the reasons I think there are more 2008’s on the list is simple – there’s more data to judge them on, and thus less fear of the unknown. Matt Graham, Chris Jenkins, Ethan Carter…those guys could shoot up the list with big springs, much like some of the guys in 2008 did before them.
2009 MLB Draft: Top High School Righthanded Pitching Cheatsheet
To make organization around these parts a little bit easier, here is a list of 32 high school righthanded pitchers worth knowing so far. Players already covered appear both in bold and in parentheses. Each player’s info is displayed using the following basic format:
Name, height, weight, fastball velocity, other pitches — slider, curveball, changeup, etc., miscelleaneous information
The list of players to watch will surely grow between now and June, but this ought to serve as a decent resource for the time being.
- (Mark Appel, 6-4, 185, FB: peak 92, SL, CU)
- Jake Barrett, 6-3, 225, FB: peak 91, sits upper-80s, CB, CU, good young power hitter
- Justin Bellez, 6-1, 180, FB: peak 92, SL: 10/4, CU, repeatable easy mechanics
- Bryan Berglund, 6-3, 175, FB: 89-91, SL: [+] 81-86, CU
- (Ethan Carter, 6-5, 205, FB: peak 90-91, SL: mid-70s, CU: low-80s, cut fastball)
- (Brody Colvin, 6-4, 190, FB: 90-93, CB: 10/4, CU)
- (Jordan Cooper, 6-1, 195, FB: peak 91, CB/SL: [+] potential, injury history)
- Michael Dedrick, 6-3, 185, FB: low-90s, CB: [+]
- Dylan Floro, 6-1, 175, FB: peak 92, CB, SL, CU, four average or above pitch guy
- (Mychal Givens, 6-1, 185, FB: peak 96-98, SL, CU, excellent sinker)
- Garrett Gould, 6-4, 195, FB: 88-91, CB: 12/6, 81, spike, CU: 78-80, above average command and pitchability
- (Matt Graham, 6-3, 195, FB: peak 94, CB)
- (Scott Griggs, 6-2, 185, FB: sits low-90s, peak 95, plus command and makeup)
- Brooks Hall, 6-5, 200, FB: 90-92, SL, CU, sound delivery
- (Michael Heller, 6-2, 180, FB: sits 90-93, peak 95, CB, CU: 75)
- Matt Hobgood, 6-4, 240, FB: sits 91-93, peak 95, good hitter
- (Chris Jenkins, 6-7, 235, FB: sits 91-93, peak 94, SL: [+] potential, command issues, high effort delivery)
- Matt Koch, 6-3, 185, FB: 88-91, SL, CB, CU, raw mechanics
- (Shelby Miller, 6-3, 195, FB: sits 91-93, peak 94, CB: mid-70s, CU: 80, SL, holds velocity late, exceptional balance, heavy fastball)
- James Needy, 6-6, 195, FB: low-90s, CB, SL, CU
- Keifer Nuncio, 6-2, 195, FB: peak 91, CB, CU
- (Brooks Pounders, 6-5, 220, FB: peak 94, CB: [+] potential, plus hitter)
- David Renfroe, 6-3, 180, FB: 88-92, CB: 12/6, clean and easy mechanics, plus athlete
- Felix Roque, 6-5, 200, FB: 88-91, SL: [+], CU, heavy sinker
- (Keyvius Sampson, 6-1, 185,FB: low-90s, peak 95, CB: low-80s, CU: potential [+], clean delivery, plus athlete)
- Trent Stevenson, 6-6, 165, FB: 86-90, SL: 73-78,
- Chad Thompson, 6-8, 215, FB: sits 90-93, peak 94, CB, CU, SF: potential [+]
- (Jacob Turner, 6-4, 205, FB: peak 93/94, CB: [+] pitch in mid-70s, CU: circle change, clean mechanics, good command)
- (Daniel Tuttle, 6-2, 185, FB: sits 90-93, peak 94, SL: 10/4 [+] pitch, sinker)
- (Zack Wheeler, 6-4, 180, FB: peak 95, SL: potential [+], low-80s, CB, splitter)
- Zack Von Rosenberg, 6-5, 200, FB: 88-91, CB: mid-70s, CU: high-70s, good mechanics
- Madison Younginer, 6-3, 185, FB: low-90s, peak 94, CU: sinking action, CB
2009 MLB Draft: Top 15 High School Righthanded Pitchers (15-11)
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…