05/28/11 10:00 AM ET
Plenty of high-ceiling, power arms in Draft
High school pitching class is extremely deep this year
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
The high school pitching class is extremely deep this year, with several prep arms in contention to be first-round picks. Sure, this group tends to be the highest risk in the Draft, and as a result, high school pitchers tend to slide a bit on Draft day. But with so much talent in this year's crop, the prep class has the chance to buck that trend.
To see when these young arms go, tune into live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, beginning with a one-hour preview show on Monday, June 6, at 6 p.m. ET on MLB.com and MLB Network, followed by the first round and supplemental compensation round. MLB.com will provide exclusive coverage of Days 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Here's a closer look at the top high school pitchers in the class, with their rank in the Draft Top 50 prospects in parentheses.
Dylan Bundy, RHP, Owasso HS, OK (4)
The top high school arm in the Draft, some claim he's the best pitcher, period, in this class. With a good feel for pitching and three above-average to plus offerings, he's got the ability to front a rotation in the future. There's been talk of a high price tag, but that shouldn't dissuade a team near the top of the Draft from taking him.
Archie Bradley, RHP, Broken Arrow HS, OK (12)
The "other" high schooler from Oklahoma, Bradley started off the season a bit sluggishly -- perhaps because of his three-sport schedule more than anything else -- but came on strong as the season came on. He can touch the upper-90s with his fastball and he's got a very good curve and a changeup that will be just fine to go along with it. Big and strong, he looks the part of a future top of the rotation type. He could be the second high school arm off the board.
Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, North Augusta HS, SC (13)
Guerrieri jumped up boards earlier this spring when he was touching the upper-90s with his fastball. He fits the mold of the projectable high school right-hander, but Guerrieri has a pretty good feel for pitching for a guy with his kind of power arsenal. He's strong and athletic and has a pretty high ceiling. He's right behind the Oklahoma boys, though there's still the chance he could sneak ahead of one of them when all is said and done.
Daniel Norris, LHP, Science Hill HS, TN (15)
Enough about right-handers. Norris is the top lefty in the class -- and has been for some time. He has the chance to have three above-average to plus pitches. He's got some delivery flaws to iron out, but with off-the-charts makeup, he's sure to maximize what tools he has. He should slide in nicely as high as the middle of the first round.
Jose Fernandez, RHP, Alonso HS, Fla. (17)
This big right-hander has been at the top of the Florida pitching list for some time now and nothing he did this year forced him down at all. He's got a plus fastball and his slider can be nasty at times as well. He's even got a feel for a changeup with better control than many high schoolers. As long as he stays on top of his conditioning, he should be just fine and could very well be a first-rounder.
Dillon Howard, RHP, Searcy HS, Ark. (18)
Howard is another projectable right-hander in a very deep class for strong-armed young pitchers. Velocity is the name of this Draft, and like others, Howard can crank it up to the mid-90s. He has the chance to have a good three-pitch mix with decent command. It's enough to have him in first-round conversations, with the sandwich round being about as far as he'd drop.
Henry Owens, LHP, Edison HS, Calif. (21)
A big (6-foot-6) lefty, Owens has been on the map for a while, having performed well in showcases over the years. He's had a solid senior season and shows the ability to throw three pitches for strikes with good mound presence and pitchability. He stuff doesn't jump out as much as one would think, but it's plenty good enough for him to be a potential first-round pick.
Robert Stephenson, RHP, Alhambra HS, Calif. (31)
With all the high school pitching talent this year, Stephenson has been in the shadows a bit, perhaps a step behind the elite right-handers listed above. Still, Stephenson has plenty of projection, a plus fastball, a curve that can be just as good at times and even a feel for a changeup. Teams looking for a high-ceiling arm in the bottom of the first round will certainly discuss this Northern California talent.
Joe Ross, RHP, Bishop O'Dowd HS, Calif. (48)
A's pitcher Tyson Ross' brother has some pretty good stuff in his own right, with the chance to have two plus power pitches in his fastball and curve. He's got some projection though his ceiling may not be quite as high as some of the others on this list. He also may not be easy to sign, with a strong commitment to UCLA.
Michael Kelly, RHP, West Boca HS, Fla. (49)
An up-and-down spring has knocked Kelly down a notch or two, but there's still much to like about this Florida right-hander. Though he's big, some delivery flaws have kept him from using his size to create plane and give him leverage. He does still have plenty of arm strength and a team that feels it can fix the issues may take a shot fairly early on.
Tyler Beede, RHP, Lawrence Academy, Mass. (50)
Beede's stock was on the rise as the weather turned warm and he was throwing extremely well in front of a lot of scouts. He's got a clean delivery and an advanced feel for pitching, showing an ability to command three pitches. He's committed to Vanderbilt and it's believed it will take an above-slot deal to get him to walk away from that commitment.