05/28/09 11:00 AM ET
Hard to project high school arms
Prepsters bring uncertainties, possibilities into Draft
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
For every Josh Beckett or Rick Porcello there are several Colt Griffins or Chris Grulers.
But if there was ever a year to take the leap and go with a high school arm in the First-Year Player Draft, this might be it. They come from both sides, with power and projectability, two p's teams want from young pitchers. It might be the biggest strength in the class.
"The ability levels are good and should be considered highly. People need to do their homework, but I think it's as strong a class of high school pitching as there has been in recent memory."
You can see just when this group gets taken on MLB.com, which will offer live coverage and analysis of the entire First-Year Player Draft on June 9-11. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. ET on June 9, noon on June 10 and 11:30 a.m. on June 11.
Brody Colvin, St. Thomas Moore HS, La.: Colvin is a typical arm strength high school right-hander, a guy who can crank the fastball into the mid-90s and throw a power curve to go along with it. He's also a good athlete, which should help him adjust in the future. His mechanics will need work and he'll need to develop a usable changeup, but he's got the type of body that scouts love. He's a step behind the true first-round guys on this list, but it's not a very big step, and there appears to be more in the tank.
Garrett Gould, Maize HS, Kan.: The word is helium, and Gould has it. The Kansas prepster was getting better and better, including a stellar performance in his school's championship game with many scouting directors on hand. Gould came into the year with one of the best curveballs of any pitcher in the class, and some increased velocity has made him virtually unhittable in high school. He seems to be firmly in the first-round picture now. The only question is how high.
Matt Hobgood, Norco HS, Calif.: Hobgood is a big, strong right-hander in Southern California, and while he might be a touch behind fellow Californian Tyler Matzek, he's still very highly regarded. Hobgood has good pure stuff, with a hard, heavy fastball and three secondary pitches, all of which have a chance (the curve is the best of the three). He's pitching Friday in a playoff game, perhaps the last time scouts will be able to see where this right-hander fits.
Chad James, Yukon HS, Okla.: Tyler Matzek and Matthew Purke get most of the ink when it comes to high school lefties, and for good reason, but it would be a mistake to forget about James. He's got the chance to have a good three-pitch mix, with a fastball that can touch the mid-90s and a breaking ball that's a plus pitch at times to go along with a pretty good changeup, especially for a high schooler. Matzek and Purke might go first, but James shouldn't be far behind in the first round.
Tyler Matzek, Capistrano HS, Calif.: Matzek entered the year as possibly the top high school arm -- and definitely the best prep lefty -- in the Draft class, and while he's been a little enigmatic, his stock hasn't dropped much. When he's on, Matzek has at least three average or above-average pitches, decent command and a good projectable body. The one issue is that he hasn't always appeared to be focused and dialed in on the mound. Late in the year, during the playoffs, he seemed locked in, providing a very good last impression. Don't expect him to last past the top 10.
Shelby Miller, Brownwood HS, Texas: What's a Draft without a hard-throwing right-hander from Texas? Miller fits the description with a heater that can touch 96 mph. He's got a curve that has the chance to be a plus pitch, and he's got that ever-popular tall and athletic pitcher's body. His command has been up and down, but that's true of many high school pitchers. With his stuff and projectability, expect Miller to go in the top half of the first round.
Matthew Purke, Klein HS, Texas: If Miller is the top right-handed pitcher out of Texas, there's no question Purke is the best lefty. He might be the top southpaw in the entire class, along with Matzek, at least based on talent. He's got three pitches that are average to above-average, but more importantly, he's got very good command in a very projectable body. As the Draft approached, rumors of a high bonus demand was potentially sending his name downward, though he was still firmly in the first-round picture.
Tyler Skaggs, Santa Monica HS, Calif.: That's right, another top-flight prep lefty, though Skaggs is probably a notch below Matzek and Purke and maybe even James. He's young and lean with a very projectable frame, giving scouts hope he can add some mph to his fastball. He's a great competitor, proven recently when he came back from an ankle injury to try to pitch his team to the next round of the playoffs. If he's healthy, he could still be in the back end of the first round.
Jacob Turner, Westminster Christian Academy, Mo.: Last year, it was Tim Melville coming out of the Missouri high school ranks. This year, it's Turner's turn. He's got a ton of arm strength and a great pitcher's body. He's got an outstanding breaking ball and some feel for a changeup to boot. After starting a bit slowly, he really came on strong at the end of the year, moving into the upper-echelons of high school arms in the class. The only thing that could cause him to drop is a signability concern.
Zack Wheeler, East Paulding HS, Ga.: Another big, projectable right-hander with plenty of velocity, he shows flashes of a plus breaking ball as well. The changeup, as is often the case with prepsters, lags behind, but it has a chance to be a decent offering. Wheeler's command has been up-and-down, but should be just fine down the line. The combination of the size, stuff and makeup have put wheeler in serious top 10 consideration.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.