clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Rays draft 2015: Pitcher preview, part two

These pitchers may not have big fastballs or breaking balls, but they can spot their pitches and mix them up

If Thomas Eshelman threw a ball, the umpire probably made a mistake
If Thomas Eshelman threw a ball, the umpire probably made a mistake
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Up-the-middle position players
Corner position bats
Pitchers with stuff

We conclude our draft preview series with a different set of pitchers. Rather than relying on great stuff to get by, these pitchers can locate and get quick outs.

There will be more on the draft later today.

There are only nine players in this group instead of 10. I realized one of the players I had listed probably didn't really belong with everyone else, and it was too late to find a new one.

LHP Kolby Allard, California H.S. (17 Y.O. 6'0 170- committed to UCLA)

Best attribute: Allard's curveball is one of the best in the draft.

Analysis: In addition to his plus-or-better breaking ball, Allard can put a bit of heat behind his fastball, sometimes touching the mid-90s. So why is he in this post and not the previous one? He is still more well known for that breaking ball and his strike-throwing ability. His changeup needs work, but he is athletic and should be able to get a handle on it.

Stock: A back injury cut Allard's spring short, but it does not seem like a long-term concern. That is what could make him available to the Rays.

LHP Kevin Duchene, Illinois (21 Y.O. 6'2 210)

Best attribute: Duchene throws a lot of strikes.

Analysis: Blowout against Vanderbilt in the Super Regional notwithstanding, Duchene has had a great season for the surprising Illini. His stuff is average at best -- a fastball that sits around 90 with life, and he also offers a cutter, changeup and breaking ball. He locates all of his pitches and mixes them up to keep hitters off balance. He struck out a career-high 7.8 batters per nine innings in 2015, and he has had success in the Cape Cod League too.

Stock: Duchene is a mid-Day 2 pick. Makeup concerns and a suspension this season have been reported, so teams will have to do their homework.

RHP Thomas Eshelman, Cal State Fullerton (20 Y.O. 6'3 190)

Best attribute: Throwing strikes is like throwing a beach ball into the ocean for Eshelman.

Analysis: Eshelman's numbers are straight out of a video game. In 137 1/3 innings, he has struck out 135 batters and walked eight. In three seasons for the Titans, he has 19 walks in 377 innings. He can clearly command his pitches, but unfortunately, he is only commanding average stuff. His 90-91 MPH fastball is flat, so he cannot miss his spots. His changeup may be his best pitch, and he also works in an average breaking ball.

Stock: Eshelman has been striking out more batters this year, so his stock is up a bit. He should be a third-round pick or so.

RHP Drew Finley, California H.S. (18 Y.O. 6'3 200- committed to USC)

Best attribute: Finley has one of the draft's better curveballs.

Analysis: In addition to his breaking ball, Finley supports an above-average fastball. Not only is it in the 90-92 MPH range, it is not a flat pitch. Like a lot of his peers, his changeup needs work, but he has some feel for it already. The most impressive part of his game, though, is how he is always around the strike zone, and he can use his top two pitches to get strikeouts.

Stock: Finley looks to be a second rounder.

LHP Juan Hillman, Florida H.S. (18 Y.O. 6'2 180- committed to UCF)

Best attribute: Hillman can throw all of his pitches for strikes.

Analysis: Across the board, Hillman earns above-average grades, and it's not easy determining which of his offerings is his best. His fastball hovers around 90 mph now, but he has room to add strength and see that tick up a bit. He has good feel for his breaking ball and changeup, he is athletic, and his command for a high school arm is top notch.

Stock: Hillman is a possible second rounder, but that could be a stretch.

RHP James Kaprielian, UCLA (21 Y.O. 6'4 200)

Best attribute: Kaprielian has a good feel for one or more breaking balls.

Analysis: Depending on the report you read, Kaprielian can either manipulate his curveball depending on the situation, or he throws two different breaking balls entirely. Regardless, that's how he tallied 114 strikeouts in 106 2/3 innings as the Friday starter on one of the nation's top teams. His low-90s fastball does not have much life, but it's not too problematic since he locates his pitches so well. His changeup is another quality pitch, and he has the durability to throw plenty of innings.

Stock: Kaprielian is going to be the 'safe' pick in the middle of the first round, but he's no back-end starter.

RHP Peter Lambert, California H.S. (18 Y.O. 6'2 185- committed to UCLA)

Best attribute: Lambert is a smart pitcher who can mix in all of his offerings.

Analysis: Lambert's arsenal -- a fastball, breaking ball and changeup -- can all be above average pitches. His heater has just average velocity now, but he is expected to grow stronger down the line and throw a bit harder. If his stuff ticks up in the coming years, he will have a great combination of stuff, pitchability and command.

Stock: Lambert looks to be a second-round pick.

RHP Triston McKenzie, Florida H.S. (17 Y.O. 6'5 160- committed to Vanderbilt)

Best attribute: McKenzie throws a nice curveball.

Analysis: ESPN's capsule for McKenzie describes his build as, "like one of those human wind socks you see at your local car dealership ($)". It's easy to say that he will add some muscle and add some mph to his average fastball, but sometimes, people built like that remain built like that. His changeup could be an average pitch, and he has the athleticism to iron out any delivery and command problems.

Stock: McKenzie is extremely raw, and the Vanderbilt commitment is tricky. If a team is sure it can strengthen him up and maintain the athleticism, he'll go around the second round.

LHP Andrew Suarez, Miami (22 Y.O. 6'2 205)

Best attribute: Suarez throws strikes with all of his pitches.

Analysis: Suarez was drafted with the No. 57 pick in 2014 and chose not to sign with the Nationals, reportedly because he wanted a signing bonus above the recommended value of $987,800. The top 62 picks are all valued higher than that amount in 2015. He missed some time with an oblique injury, and when he returned, his strikeout and walk rates both ticked up a bit. In addition to his low-90s fastball, he has an average breaking ball and changeup. That he had labrum surgery a few years ago is important to mention as well.

Stock: Suarez will probably be taken roughly where he was last year.