Top Right-Handers in 2009 Draft

Looking at the top right-handers in the '09 draft, we have Stephen Strasburg and everyone else. This may sound odd, but I'm not going to talk about Strasburg much. He's really excellent, but from an analystical perspective I find the next guys more interesting, since they have actual flaws you can point to.

As I see it, after Strasburg the best guys in the right-handed group are (alphabetically) Aaron Crow, Kyle Gibson, Shelby Miller, Tanner Scheppers, Jacob Turner, Zack Wheeler, and Alex White. Then I see a division in quality between that group and the next segment, guys like Mike Leake, Chad Jenkins, or Kyle Heckathorn.

Focusing on the first group, here is how I'm currently thinking about each one.

Aaron Crow, Fort Worth:: STRENGTHS: Plus sinking fastball, plus slider, great college numbers with strong command, relatively polished, should be ready soon. WEAKNESSES: Changeup? Some scouts worry about his mechanics and durability.

Kyle Gibson, Missouri: STRENGTHS: Solid fastball, good slider, good changeup, excellent control, strong college numbers, good size, high level experience. WEAKNESSES: Doesn't have consistent plus velocity on the heater. Perhaps more of a number three starter than a future ace.

Shelby Miller, Texas HS: STRENGTHS: 90-95 MPH fastball with movement, good size, good curve, good athlete. WEAKNESSES: High school pitcher with the extra risk that entails, needs better command of changeup and curveball (though this is normal for his age).

Tanner Scheppers, St. Paul: STRENGTHS: Outstanding stuff when healthy, big-time fastball, strong curve, very good athlete, pitched great at Fresno State, reportedly healthy now. WEAKNESSES: Shoudler problem from last year could easily recur; command has been an issue at times. 

Jacob Turner, Missouri HS: STRENGTHS: 90-96 MPH fastball, better secondary pitches than Miller, good athlete. WEAKNESSES: Extra risk of high school pitcher, high price tag with Scott Boras/North Carolina factor, command can be erratic.

Zack Wheeler, Georgia HS: STRENGTHS: 90-95 MPH fastball, good breaking ball, athletic and projectable, pitched against good competition in high school, perhaps has lower price tag than Miller and Turner. WEAKNESSES: Extra risk of high school pitcher. Needs a changeup.

Alex White, North Carolina: STRENGTHS: Can hit 96 MPH though usually 2-4 MPH below that, good slider and splitter, athletic, intelligent, still has some projection. WEAKNESSES: Command comes and goes, hasn't dominated quite as much as expected with his kind of stuff.

My Current Ranking. Right now I have them ranked personally like this: Crow, Gibson, White, Scheppers, Turner, Wheeler, Miller. I tend to like guys with good command (the Twins fan in me) and slightly prefer Gibson's pitchability to White's longer-term potential, though I think Crow has a good amount of both and will be ready quicker. Scheppers is someone I loved in college, but the shoulder thing worries me, clean health report or not, and I might end up dropping him down a bit further. The high school guys all seem pretty close to me.

How do you like them?

 NOTE: The original poll was missing Jacob Turner; I've redone the poll so you might have to vote again.

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