Atlanta Braves rookie right-hander Mike Foltynewicz is off to a solid start in 2015, posting a 3-2 record in seven starts, 4.29 ERA, 3.83 FIP, with a 43/15 K/BB in 42 innings. Folty is a good example of the "cold weather high school pitcher," a category of draft prospect that you'll be hearing about over the next few days.
The Astros drafted him in the first round in 2010 from high school in Minooka, Illinois. The 19th overall choice, he was not universally regarded as a first-round talent before draft day. Scouts loved his arm of course but he was considered rather raw, needing sharper command and more refined secondary pitches. He also had a University of Texas scholarship in his pocket. Some clubs saw him as something like a third-round choice, a guy with high upside who might not be drafted early enough to forgo college.
All it takes is one team to buck consensus of course and the Astros were that team, picking him in the first round and signing him for $1,305,000. He showed his rawness during his trek through the Houston system. He always had an impressive low-to-mid-90s fastball, but like many cold-weather preps his secondary pitches and command needed a lot of work. It took him two years to figure out Low-A but eventually the curveball and change-up developed and gave him a full arsenal to go with the heat. As you know, he was traded to the Braves in the Evan Gattis deal this past winter.
Folynewicz's development illustrates a key baseball draft trope:
***"The Cold-weather Prep Pitcher: a big kid from a northern state who throws hard and has a fresh arm that wasn't abused in high school, but who is often behind his warm-weather peers in pitchability or secondary pitch development. In theory they are less likely to get hurt, having less mileage on the arm, but they may need more development time.
I think this trope is a bit less common than it used to be. The rise of the Showcase circuit in recent years makes it less likely for such arms to "pop up" unexpectedly and gives such pitchers a chance to show themselves against better competition at an earlier point. Still, in most cases they do have fewer miles on their arms than a typical Texas or Florida or California arm.
Key "cold weather prep pitchers" to watch for the draft next week include Mike Nikorak of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, Nolan Watson and Ashe Russell of Indianapolis, Indiana, Chandler Day of Pataskala, Ohio, and Wesley Rodriguez from Washington Heights, New York. All of them have a chance to go in the first round and could follow a similar path to Folty's.
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