2013 Draft preview: Pitchers, part one

Ben Lively has improved his stock with a very good spring - Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

DRaysBay kicks off draft coverage with a look at some "safe" pitchers

In 16 days, the 2013 draft will begin on June 6th and run through the 8th. It'll be the second draft since the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement changed the game, but even this year's draft will be a little different from last year's. In addition to the assigned pick values being 8.2% higher, the new compensation system will be fully implemented instead of Bud Selig determining comp picks on the fly like 2012.

Unlike last year, the Rays will have an extra pick. In addition to their own first rounder at 21st overall, they have Atlanta's first rounder at 29th overall as compensation for losing B.J. Upton. Their total bonus pool for the first 10 rounds (and any signing in rounds 11-40 over $100,000) is $6,694,900, nearly three million higher than last year's, and about three million higher than what they actually spent on their picks.

A commonly discussed draft strategy, especially for teams with extra picks, is working out a deal with a player for below the recommended value of their first pick, to go overslot on later picks. In prior years with extra picks, albeit under the old rules, the Rays have not taken this approach. In fact, their first picks in the last two drafts where they had extra picks, they went overslot to sign Josh Sale and Taylor Guerrieri.

This will be the first of a handful of posts previewing players that could interest the Rays. It will cover command and control pitchers, generally lower upside arms. I asked Justice Potter Stewart how to define that, and he could only say that he knows it when he sees it. These will be pitchers with only average fastball velocity, secondary offerings probably being better, good control but maybe have a higher floor than some of the higher upside pitchers that will be discussed later.

Ian Clarkin, California H.S. (18 Y.O. 6'3, 190 pound LHP- committed to San Diego)

Best attribute: Clarkin is not as raw as many of his high school peers. He has less work to do on his delivery than most to improve pitch location.

Analysis: Clarkin is anywhere from 6'1 to 6'3 depending on where you look, and sources have differing opinions on his projectability. Nevertheless, his velocity did improve on the summer showcase circuit, and it's expected that he can sit in the 90-92 range now rather than 88-90. His mid-70's curveball is a potential plus pitch as long as he maintains his arm slot and doesn't flatten the pitch out. His changeup is already pretty advanced for a high school arm with a nice dip in velocity compared to his fastball and a little bit of movement.

Stock: Clarkin's ranking varies from the low teens to 60's depending on the source with most being closer to the former. It would be surprising if he made it to the Rays' second round pick at #60 overall.

Wil Crowe, Tennessee H.S. (18 Y.O. 6'3, 225 pound RHP- committed to South Carolina)

Best attribute: Crowe is a little more polished than most high school arms.

Analysis: With a pretty filled out frame already, Crowe's 90-92 MPH fastball probably won't see any more growth. Like Crowe, his best pitch is a mid-70's curveball with plus or even better potential. He has a bit of a feel for a changeup already with some movement, and with his control, there's not as much risk with him compared to many high school pitchers. He works quickly and attacks batters in the zone.

Stock: Many rankings have Crowe in the middle 100's, so he could be taken in the 4th-5th rounds. If a team believes he can regain a little velocity he previously had early in the spring, he could probably be popped even sooner.

Dustin Driver, Washington H.S. (18 Y.O. 6'2, 210 pound RHP committed to UCLA)

Best attribute: Like Crowe, Driver is already built pretty solidly and should be very durable.

Analysis: Driver has the size and pitchability to pitch in a major league rotation some day, but aside from his 91-93 MPH fastball, his other pitches need some work. He works with two breaking balls right now, but it seems like his harder slider will be the better pitch moving forward, not his curveball. His changeup occasionally flashes potential to be an average or so pitch, but there's work to be done on it. His command can certainly improve too.

Stock: Once considered a potential first rounder, his command and present below average secondary pitches have knocked him more into the 2nd-4th round range. The Rays certainly love their players from Washington.

Marco Gonzales, Gonzaga (21 Y.O. 6'1, 185 pound LHP)

Best attribute: The changeup that Gonzales throws is one of the best in the draft.

Analysis: The Process Report has already covered the merits of drafting Gonzales very well, and I don't have much to add. Drafting Gonzales probably wouldn't excite even the most hardcore draft fans, but he could provide a quick return on investment as a solid major league starter. His fastball has average velocity at best at 88-90 MPH, but he commands it very well. His breaking ball is maybe average.

Stock: With solid potential and a chance to reach the majors quickly, Gonzales may not be around for the team's second pick in the first round.

Rob Kaminsky, New Jersey H.S. (18 Y.O. 6'0, 190 pound LHP, committed to North Carolina)

Best attribute: Kaminsky already has good command of his pitches, especially surprising since he's not in a year-round baseball region.

Analysis: New Jersey isn't really known for its amateur baseball, but this year they'll be producing one of the class' most polished high school arms. His fastball sits in the 90-92 MPH range, and with his size, it seems really unlikely that he'll ever develop any more velocity. His best pitch is a plus or better curveball that he leans on heavily to miss bats. He'll have to continue working on his changeup like almost every high school pitcher.

Stock: Kaminsky could be off the board by the time the Rays pick, but with his smaller stature and battling the stigma of being from the northeast, he could fall down the draft further than he should.

Ben Lively, Central Florida (21 Y.O. 6'4, 205 pound RHP)

Best attribute: Lively's average fastball plays up thanks to a quick arm and deceptive delivery.

Analysis: Lively has been a riser this spring with a great performance in Orlando. His stuff is average or maybe even a little better, and he has a great track record of performance over the last two seasons. His fastball is usually an average 90-92 MPH pitch, but it's also been known to touch higher. He works with two breaking balls, the better one being a slider when he stays on top of the ball. His changeup shows a little potential.

Stock: Lively's stock has been rising this spring, and he could be a third round pick for a team looking for a safe player to sign.

Dillon Overton, Oklahoma (22 Y.O. 6'2, 170 pound LHP)

Best attribute: Overton can throw quality strikes with three different pitches.

Analysis: Overton is another pitcher here who doesn't have overwhelming stuff, but his command, control, pitchability and mound presence are mature. Every source I've seen seems to indicate that he's actually stronger than his listed weight would suggest, and he could eventually consistently sit in the 90-92 MPH range with his fastball rather than just occasionally touching it. His feel for a changeup is impressive, but he'll need to improve his curveball in the future.

Stock: Overshadowed by teammate and likely top two pick Jonathan Gray, Overton should still be a second or third rounder.

Andrew Thurman, UC Irvine (21 Y.O. 6'3, 205 pound RHP)

Best attribute: Thurman has improved every year with the Anteaters, and he could still be developing.

Analysis: Thurman is big, durable and a solid all-around pitcher. His fastball has reached a point where it has average velocity in the low 90's, and he has even been working a little higher this spring. He can spot that fastball, as well as all of his pitches, all around the strike zone. His changeup is deceptive and his best secondary pitch, and he works with two different breaking balls. Sources differ on whether his curveball or slider is a better pitch.

Stock: Thurman is probably a late first round pick, right around the Rays at 29th overall.

Trevor Williams, Arizona State (21 Y.O. 6'3, 228 pound RHP)

Best attribute: Williams challenges hitters with an average or above average fastball.

Analysis: Despite pretty solid stuff, Williams could never seem to put batters away until 2013. His breaking ball, called a slider in most places, has improved and could be an average pitch, but his best secondary pitch is a high 70's changeup that he has confidence in. He's an athlete with good mechanics, and if he can mix up his pitches well, he may have some untapped potential.

Stock: Even if he doesn't get any better, Williams could be a reliable back-end starter that goes at the end of the first round or the second.

Kevin Ziomek, Vanderbilt (21 Y.O. 6'3, 200 pound LHP)

Best attribute: Ziomek could have three potential average to above average pitches, led by his changeup.

Analysis: The Rays have drafted one or two lefties from Vanderbilt in recent years, but Ziomek is clearly closer to Grayson Garvin than he is David Price. His stuff is average at best, and sometimes his fastball velocity can even drop to below average in the high 80's. His breaking ball and changeup are both inconsistent offerings, with the former having fluctuations in both velocity and shape. There is a lot of concern about his arm action and if it could lead to him ending up in the bullpen.

Stock: Ziomek should be taken somewhere in the compensation round, especially if a team is certain that he can stick in the rotation.

Kirsch's club

Thanks to area scout Paul Kirsch's influence in the organization, the Rays frequently target players in the Pacific Northwest. Here are a few more names from that region to keep an eye on.

Christian Jones, Oregon (21 Y.O. 6'2, 205 pound LHP): After missing all of 2012 because of Tommy John surgery, Jones has been effective in the Ducks bullpen with a low arm slot and a low 90's fastball.

John Pomeroy, Washington H.S. (18 Y.O. 6'4, 215 RHP): Pomeroy already works with a low 90's fastball and promising curveball, and if he chooses to go pro rather than honor his scholarship with Oregon State, he could help the team's analytics department when March Madness rolls around.

Austin Voth, Washington (20 Y.O. 6'4, 190 pound RHP): Voth is athletic and works with a couple solid fastballs. He's lacking a really good out pitch though.

Thanks to Minor League Ball, Baseball America, ESPN, Baseball Prospectus, MLB.com and others for info

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