DeAndre Smelter in action
Part Two of our look at Interesting High School Pitchers for the 2010 draft. There are others out there also worthy of attention, and we will do more reports on this topic soon, but these are the guys who strike me as the most likely and logical first round or supplemental round candidates. Next Topic: College pitchers.
Griffin Murphy, LHP, Redlands East Valley HS, Highland, California
Another University of San Diego signee, Murphy is a 6-3, 200 pound southpaw with an 89-93 MPH fastball, an improving curve, and a changeup that projects as at least average with more experience. He's been a bit overshadowed by some of the right-handers with more press, but someone looking for a lefty could pick him as early as the supplemental round. The Angels, with extra picks and a liking for high school arms, might take a shot as early as 30th overall.
Robby Rowland, RHP, Cloverdale HS, Santa Rosa, California
Lanky and projectable at 6-6, 205, Rowland currently throws 90-92 MPH, touching 93-94, but scouts think there is more velocity in that frame as he matures. He has a decent curveball, and comes from a baseball family. He's a good enough athlete to be a fine basketball player as well, but baseball is his long-term sport. He has a University of Oregon commitment, but like most of these guys he should be signable if he goes early enough in the draft. He has an outside shot at the first round, but is more probably a supplemental or second round pick. Tampa Bay at 42 seems like a team that could be a good fit..
Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Barstow HS (California)
If you like athleticism and projection, you will love Sanchez. Another University of Oregon recruit, Sanchez is 6-3 but just 175 pounds, with plenty of room to fill out. He throws 89-92 currently, hitting 93-95 at times, but if he gains the weight and strength that scouts expect, his velocity should pick up into the 93-95 range more consistently. He has a decent curve and change but both pitches need refinement. Although draft eligible, he's just 17 years old. Slotting him in the draft is tough: he seems like someone who would be drafted in the bottom half of the first round: the Marlins at 23 or the Giants at 24 seem like good fits, but I can also see someone taking a chance earlier than that.
DeAndre Smelter, RHP, Tatnall Square Academy, Macon, Georgia
Listed variously at 6-3, 210 or 6-4, 205, Smelter is a Georgia Tech recruit but should be signable in the first or second round. He's a terrific overall athlete with strong legs, and he's had interesting baseball influence from former major league ace starter Kevin Brown, his high school coach. Smelter has a 90-95 MPH fastball and works in a decent splitter and an occasional slider, though on Brown's instructions he doesn't throw a lot of breaking stuff in order to save stress on his arm. I like him a lot, and could see him going anywhere from about 20 into the supplemental round. "Smelter" is a great name for a pitcher.
Jameson Taillon, RHP, The Woodlands HS (Texas)
This draft is loaded with high school pitching, but just about everyone thinks Taillon is the best of the bunch. Listed at 6-6, 225 last fall, he's up to 6-7, 230, but despite his size he's quite athletic. Clocked as high as 98 MPH, he maintains steady mid-90 velocity. His mechanics are consistent considering his age and size, and he has a killer curveball. Committed to Rice, he won't be a cheap sign. Assuming that the Nationals do as expected and pick Bryce Harper first overall, Taillon could go to the Pirates at two or the Orioles at three. If they pass, the Royals (willing to spend money on the draft and take risks) are unlikely to shy away.
Taijuan Walker, RHP, Yucaipa HS (California)
Unlike the other top prep pitchers, Walker hasn't committed to a four-year college and shouldn't have major signability problems. This could make him very attractive to teams looking for a combination of talent and affordability. A 6-4, 190 pound athlete, Walker has excellent tools but is inexperienced on the mound. He has a 90-93 MPH fastball and should throw harder with physical maturity. His curve and change exist but are erratic. He represents a definite development risk, but his high ceiling and lack of college commitment could get him into the later part of the first round if the price tag on other players is too high.
Karsten Whitson, RHP, Chipley HS (Florida)
Committed to the University of Florida, Whitson has ideal size and some remaining projectability at 6-4, 190 pounds. He has a 90-94 MPH fastball, hitting 95 at times, and an advanced slider for a high school kid. He is polished for his age, throws strikes, and has a good balance of current skill, remaining projection, safety, and risk as high school pitchers go. He is likely go to somewhere in the Top Ten, and certainly won't make it past 15 unless his bonus demands are outrageous.
There are many other interesting high school pitchers that I will look at in subsequent reports, but these strike me as the best candidates to go early.