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Prospect Preview: 2012 Draft SP Edition


As part of our 2012 Midseason Prospect Rankings we were including some interesting names to note from the 2012 draft. After ranking the top 50 starting pitching prospects in the minors, I was a bit burnt out and didn't want to give you one liners on the many intriguing draftees who will become - or attempt to become - major league starting pitchers. In an effort to provide you with more robust recaps than I would have been able to give you on Tuesday, I decided to make a separate post about the more interesting starting pitchers drafted in the first or first supplemental rounds of the draft. And away we go!

Kevin Gausman (BAL) - To many people's surprise, Gausman was the first starting pitcher off the board. This player to this team might have been the safest assumption in the draft as Baltimore was smitten with Gausman and likely had him ahead of Appel on their board. He can run his fastball up to 98 MPH, and will sit in the mid 90s deep into games. His mid 80s change up is a second plus offering but there is concern about the development of his breaking pitches. He could tear through the low minors with this repertoire but a breaking ball will be key for the upper levels (read: Julio Teheran).

Kyle Zimmer (KC) - Zimmer burst onto the (upper first round) scene this year by touching 99 MPH and pitching comfortably in the mid 90s. He began college as a position player, but clearly took to his new role. He's got a dynamic curveball and will flash a change up but is inconsistent with it. Zimmer was reportedly considered to be going as high as the second overall pick at one point during the year, but his stock fell towards the end of the season as he suffered a hamstring strain that prevented him from pitching. He is able to repeat his delivery well and is a premium athlete. He shows good control and can throw all his pitches for strikes. Could be a quick mover in a system that's starved for advanced pitching prospects.

Read more on the draft's starting pitchers after the jump...

Max Fried (SD) - A projectable lefty in the mold of Tyler Skaggs (though more advanced at the same age), Fried was a teammate of more highly touted pitcher Lucas Giolito (more on him later). At 6'4/180 lbs, Fried has plenty of room to add weight, and hopefully velocity. He flashes three plus pitches, with his fastball being ahead of his curve and change. The fastball is above-average right now, and his feel for pitching should help his other pitches develop. Fried has top of the rotation potential, and could move quickly for a prep product due to his advanced approach to pitching.

Mark Appel (PIT) - The odds on favorite to be the first overall pick, Appel slid to the 8th overall pick when Houston found out it could save $2.4 million and grab a comparable overall talent in Carlos Correa. It's funny that he lands in Pittsburgh, because the descriptions of him took me back to his now (potential) teammate Gerrit Cole. He has an easy plus fastball that sits in the mid 90s and will touch 98 MPH. He has an above-average slider and his change up is consistently average to above. However, he doesn't always dominate like you'd think he would with that arsenal. His fastball can be a little straight, and hitters get a good look at the ball due to his delivery. At 6'5/215 lbs, Appel is built to handle a starters workload and could join Gerritt Cole and Jameson Taillon at Hi-A if he signs.

Andrew Heaney (MIA) - Heaney isn't the same type of arm that the above prospects are, but he might be the first starting pitcher from this class to make the bigs, depending on what the Jays do with Marcus Stroman. Heaney delivers his fastball in the upper 80s/lower 90s but can touch 95 MPH from the left side with some deception. His three quarters delivery also adds a bit of movement to his fastball. His offspeed pitches are above-average at worst, with his slider flashing plus. There isn't a ton of projection left, but he can throw strikes with the best of them and still miss bats. He's a fast mover.

Now that we've exited the top 10 picks, I'm going to bounce around a bit to hit the guys I really like. If I miss someone you want to talk about, hit me in the comments.

Lucas Giolito (WAS) - The biggest enigma heading into the draft, Giolito looked like he was going to be the first right-handed high school pitcher to be taken #1 overall. Then he sprained his UCL, and while he avoided surgery, he wasn't able to throw off a mound again before the draft. Throwing in the mid 90s before the injury, Giolito touched 99 MPH with his fastball. He has ace potential when he's right, supplementing that heat with a two-plane curve that could be plus-plus. At 6'6 mechanics can be a problem for most pitchers, but Giolito does well to use his length to his advantage. There are less concerns about his pitching elbow than there about whether the Nationals can sign him given their small bonus pool. It doesn't help them that Giolito's family doesn't hurt for money and he has a strong commitment to UCLA. If he signs, and you trust that the arm is sound, Giolito should be the first pitcher off the board in your drafts, because he would be 1A to Strasburg's 1.

Marcus Stroman (TOR) - Stroman could be the first pick to the majors if the Blue Jays opt to put him in the bullpen. He has all the makings of a starter, if only he wasn't 5'9. His stuff would play right now in the major leagues, as he brings a low to mid 90s fastball and a devastating slider to the table. His change up has progressed to average, but he's unlikely to need it if moved to the bullpen as many suspect.

Ty Hensley (LAD) - Often mocked to the Dodgers because of his profile (projectable power arm) Hensley slid to the 30th overall pick. At 6'5/220 lbs, Hensley certainly looks the part. Hensley came on strong in his senior season, pitching in the low to mid 90s and reaching 97 MPH. His best pitch though is a kneebuckling curve that arrives in the upper 70s and has sharp 12-to-6 break. He shows his raw nature in his lack of control of either pitch, and while he does well to stay tall in his motion, he will need to iron out some minor flaws. He doesn't show a third pitch right now and shouldn't move too quickly, but is a potential impact arm down the line.

Zach Eflin (SD) - Eflin was up to 97 MPH this spring and shows an impressive change up to boot. His breaking pitch is solid, but caught between a curve and slider and needs some tightening up. He missed some time due to tendinitis in triceps, but could prove to be a steal at the 33rd pick.

Lance McCullers, Jr. (HOU) - Perhaps the second biggest question mark in the draft following Giolito, McCullers has major league bloodlines and was considered a top 10-15 pick based on talent, but came with major signability concerns. Already signed for nearly double his slot value, Houston did well to get McCullers where they did. Pegged as a reliever early in his high school career, McCullers made progress throwing more pitches in the zone. He has no problem holding his mid 90s velocity deep into games, and has hit triple digits on occasion. He also throws a power slider in the mid 80s, and while he still has a reliever profile, his improved feel for pitching has some believing he can stay in the rotation. Per BaseballAmerica "some scouts put 70 grades on both pitches, and that might be selling McCullers short." Wow.

That's all I'm covering for now but again, if you want someone else to be looked at, drop their name in the comments.

Source Material:
Keith Law/Kiley McDaniel/Jason Churchill/ESPN