Top Lefties from 2009 Draft
Here are some thoughts about the top lefties in the 2009 draft, listed alphabetically.
Rex Brothers, Lipscomb: STRENGTHS: Has hit 97 MPH, works in the 90s consistently, has a nasty slider, huge strikeout rate, control has improved. WEAKNESSES: Mechanics need refinement, leading to durability questions. Command can wobble. Will need better changeup to start in the pros.
Chad James, Oklahoma HS: STRENGTHS: Big and strong at 6-4, 204; 90-93 MPH fastball, nasty curveball, excellent athleticism. WEAKNESSES: High school pitcher risk; mechanics need polish, may be expensive to buy away from Oklahoma State.
Tyler Matzek: California HS: STRENGTHS: 90-94 MPH fastball, plus curveball, changeup shows potential, good control, excellent mechanics, athletic and projectable. WEAKNESSES: High school pitcher risk; velocity and command not always consistent, price tag to buy away from Oregon might be high.
Aaron Miller, Baylor: STRENGTHS: 90-94 MPH fastball, good slider, strong and athletic, two-way player with limited mileage on his arm compared to most college pitchers, getting late buzz as possible first rounder. WEAKNESSES: Limited mileage also means he lacks the polish of most college pitchers; needs better changeup, control needs work.
Andy Oliver, Oklahoma State: STRENGTHS: 90-95 MPH fastball, good slider, has flashed a changeup, good control, excellent sophomore season last year, strong and durable. WEAKNESSES: Lost his plus curveball this year; needs to refine changeup and slider, weaker-than-expected performance this spring, Scott Boras client.
James Paxton, Kentucky: STRENGTHS: 92-96 MPH fastball, sharp curveball, good control, high strikeout rates in college ball, big and strong, from Canada so he has a fresher arm than most college guys. WEAKNESSES: Why does he have an ERA over 5.00? Vulnerable to home runs this year; needs a better changeup; Canadian background also means he needs more polish.
Matt Purke, Texas HS: STRENGTHS: 90-95 MPH fastball, good slider, good control, still physically projectable and could throw harder as he matures. WEAKNESSES: Strong interest in college ball at TCU raises his price tag; mechanics are not as smooth as Matzek's, general high school pitcher risk.
Tyler Skaggs, California HS: STRENGTHS: More physically projectable than Matzek or Purke, throws 88-92 right now but that should increase; excellent curveball, very athletic. WEAKNESSES: General high school pitcher risk; Cal State Fullerton commitment, needs a changeup, what if his velocity doesn't increase?
Most teams rate Matzek at the head of the class, but after that there is a lot of mixed opinion. Of the high schoolers, James, Purke, and Skaggs are all pretty close in terms of talent. Skaggs has the least current velocity but also the most physical projection. All of the high schoolers have good college options available, so they won't be cheap.
On the college side, Brothers has a terrific power arm but could use some polish. Oliver's season was a disappointment, but as long as he is healthy he seems a decent bet to rebound as a pro. Paxton is something of an enigma, but University of Kentucky pitchers actually have a pretty good track record, and despite the high ERA his K/BB and K/IP ratios are outstanding. Miller's two-way status clouded his draft status heading into the season, but he's made a late charge and could get into the first round.
I spent much of the afternoon watching video of the high schoolers. They all look great, but I have to say that I'm really intrigued with Skaggs. He hasn't received as much notice as Matzek and Purke, but the guy just screams projectable and there is something about him that strikes me very positively on an intuitive basis. For now, I have them ranked Matzek, Skaggs, Brothers, Purke, Oliver, Paxton, Miller. But the guys behind Matzek are all pretty fluid in my mind.
We will look at the second tier of right-handers in the next draft post.