A.J. Vanegas - Melinda Vastola--US Presswire
A.J Vanegas, RHP, Stanford University
Height/Weight 6-3, 215
Birthdate: August 16, 1992 Age at Draft: 20.8
Stanford right-hander A.J. Vanegas is one of the more enigmatic pitchers on the radar for the 2013 draft. While his teammate Mark Appel is a lock for the early portion of the draft and a candidate for first-overall, Vanegas could go anywhere from the middle of the first round to the supplemental to the second, depending on how he performs this spring.
Back in 2010, Vanegas was considered a top prospect as a high school pitcher from San Lorenzo, California. He fell to the seventh round due to his Stanford commitment, where he was drafted by the San Diego Padres. He reportedly turned down a $2,000,000 bonus, wanting an education and hoping that a strong college career would position him for an even larger bonus in 2013.
He has been reasonably successful in college, but hasn't thrived in quite the same way that Appel has. The Cardinal have used him primarily in relief. He posted a 3.35 ERA in 40 innings in 2011 with a 31/20 K/BB, followed by a 2.62 ERA with five saves and a 53/37 K/BB in 65 innings in 2012. A back injury limited him in the 2012 Cape Cod League last summer, though he still showed enough stuff to impress scouts and push him back up draft lists.
Vanegas showed a low-90s fastball along with a curve and slider in high school. After a middling freshman season and uninspired performance in the '11 Cape Cod League, and he was throwing 95-98 MPH last summer before shutting down. His slider reportedly improved as well, and he made progress with mechanics and command after struggling to some extent with that as a freshman and sophomore.
Questions entering 2013: does he maintain his summer velocity? Is he a starter or a reliever? Can he lower his walk rate? If he throws strikes consistently and dominates the way his stuff says he should, he'll join his more-famous teammate in the first round. Even an erratic spring would still make Vanegas a likely early-single-digit draft due to his arm strength, provided his bonus demands are reasonable.