Top draft prospects: Pitchers check in Week 5 Doug Gray March 20, 2017 31 Comments The check in for hitters and pitchers is going to be in two parts this week. I’m on the road for 15 hours on Sunday and Monday as I make my way to Arizona for spring training. What that means is that I’m typing this up on Saturday and setting it to publish for Monday morning. For the hitters there will be another post, likely set for Tuesday morning that I will get to once I reach a hotel. Let’s take a look at how some of the top pitchers eligible for the 2017 draft performed in the last week. J.B. Bukauskas | RHP | North Carolina The top performances so far in college baseball comes down to Bukauskas and Brendan McKay. This week didn’t give either one the the lead. Taking on Georgia Tech, the right hander allowed two earned in 7.0 innings. He walked two batters and he struck out 14 batters. On the season he now has a 1.09 ERA in 33.0 innings. He also has seven walks and 51 strikeouts. Bukauskas holding 93-95 MPH into 5th inning. Exorbitant amount (21 total) of swings and misses so far; FB/SL both easy plus and holding — Brian Sakowski (@B_Sakowski_PG) March 17, 2017 #UNC RHP JB Bukauskas topped out at 98 in first. Slider straight filth. #MLBDraft — Chris Blessing (@C_Blessing) March 17, 2017 Alex Faedo | RHP | Florida After dominating over his last three starts, it was a rough go of things for Faedo on Friday night against Auburn. The right hander struggled with his control, walking six batters and hitting another. He lasted only 4.1 innings, allowed three doubles and a homer with five strikeouts. The righty now has a 2.93 ERA on the year with 13 walks and 35 strikeouts in 30.2 innings. Feedo works around a leadoff walk, Mostly 90-92 with his fastball. Got Josh Anthony looking to end the first. 0-0 after 1. — Teddy Cahill (@tedcahill) March 17, 2017 Hunter Greene | RHP | Notre Dame HS (CA) Greene took the mound on Friday night to open up league play. He tossed 4.0 shutout innings, allowing just two hits. He reached 100 MPH in the start and sat 96-98 MPH. He only needed 52 pitches to get through his day before he was replaced on the mound. Tanner Houck | RHP | Missouri It’s been a back-and-forth season so far for Houck. The Missouri righty has a good outing against Alabama on Friday night. He tossed 7.0 shutout innings while allowing just one hit. Houck hit a batter, walked three and struck out nine while throwing 105 pitches. For the season he now has a 2.27 ERA in 31.2 innings pitched. He’s now got 10 walks and 37 strikeouts. Alex Lange | RHP | LSU While his team won the game, it was not a good night for Lange on Friday. The ball must have been flying as LSU won 22-9 over Georgia on the night. The Tigers righty allowed seven earned on eight hits and four walks in 4.1 innings. He did strike out seven batters, but his ERA jumped up to 5.04 on the season. In 25.0 innings he’s now walked nine and has 36 strikeouts. Brendan McKay | LHP | Louisville Another week and another dominating performance for McKay. Taking on Boston College on Friday night he threw 7.0 shutout frames. He allowed five hits and a walk, but struck out 12 batters. The left hander now has thrown 14.0 innings with two walks and 27 strikeouts in his last two starts. His ERA on the year is 0.36, allowing just one earned run in 25.0 innings. In the first Baseball America Mock Draft, McKay was selected by the Reds. Kyle Wright | RHP | Vanderbilt It’s been a tough start of the year for Wright. He pitched well on Friday night against Ole Miss, but didn’t stand out among the weeks top performers. He allowed a run in 7.0 innings with two walks, a hit batter and four strikeouts. His ERA is now 4.33 in 27.0 innings. He’s walked eight and he has 28 strikeouts to go with 30 hits allowed. 31 Responses The Duke March 20, 2017 That’s probably the best video I’ve seen On Greene’s breaking ball. He was getting a lot of movement on it. It’s a tough call between him and Buskauskas on the pitching side for me. Greene has the bigger frame and a little more fastball, but Buskauskas’ slider is just so filthy, and I’ve seen his changeup flash as a plus pitch as well. You also get more certainty with college pitchers with that longer track record against far superior competition. McKay comes in behind those two for me, But I wouldn’t be angry if the Reds picked him. Not as much fastball, but he is a lefty with maybe the best command and control in the draft. 3 MLB ready pitches that are all at least above average and a solid frame to be a work horse. Faedo is fast falling down my board. He’s lost velocity after his knee surgeries this off season and while it may come back, it’s not guaranteed to come back. Amongst the pitchers Greene, Buskauskas, and McKay have clearly separated themselves so far. I can see arguments to put those three in any order but for now I’d have it: Buskauskas Greene McKay Razor thin margin between Buskauskas and Greene, the much higher failure rate amongst prep pitchers vs college pitchers is what makes me lean Buskauskas, but it’s a tough tough call. The Reds better have multiple scouts at every start for all three. Wes March 20, 2017 Oops. If u chance chk my comments below. Thx duke! sultanofswaff March 20, 2017 Buskauskas really short arms the ball. That screams reliever to me. Too risky for the #2 pick IMO. Jim March 20, 2017 I like McKay BUT in an interview that I listened to 28th him he sounded like a low mentality person. Just my perception but I like his stuff and results the best. Zach Greinke isn’t good at interviews either. Wes March 20, 2017 Thanks duke! So 2013 draft had 2 extremely touted college arms in appeal and gray. The Cubs, according to what I remember, were suppose to unanimously take the pitcher the astros did not. But shocking to all- they took kris Bryant. Obviously they are the big winner. So what makes u feel different about these college pitchers vs someone like an appeal or gray who was touted as a sure fire thing? Because to me, it seems like the best bat is safest bet and reds can’t afford to miss w this 2nd pick. The Duke March 20, 2017 Legit points, but with some differences in my opinion. Appel had a notoriously straight fastball, and his off speed pitch didn’t rank as high as Bukauskas. He also didn’t put up near the K/9 ratios we are seeing from Bukauskas. Bukauskas has Two MLB plus pitches right now, and his changeup can be a plus pitch as well (it was actually his better secondary pitch coming out of high school). Bukauskas’ slider is a legit 70 grade, and I’ve routinely called it the best pitch in this draft. Jonathan Gray was closer, but even his best college season was 10.47 K/9, whereas Bukauskas was 12.75 last year and is 13.91 this year so far. Bukauskas also faces better competition in the ACC. The Pac 12 And Big 12 are good conferences, but they are a step below the SEC and ACC in my opinion. Personally, I would love to take another advanced college bat like Bryant or Senzel again, but there just isn’t one in this draft, and now appear to be emerging like Benintendi did a couple years back. If we take Jeren Kendall, I’ll be pissed. He has Drew Stubbs written all over him. And While I didn’t mention him because this post was just about pitchers, Royce Lewis is #1 on my wish list. Royce Lewis JB Buskauskas Hunter Greene Brendan McKay At the moment, nobody else is worth considering at #2, but that is of course subject to change as the high school and college seasons unfold. KyWilson1 March 20, 2017 I would mirror your top 4 at the moment. Still need to get out and see Adell some this spring but I am pretty high on him as well. The Duke March 20, 2017 Adell has had a bit of a slow start this year and with the amount of swimg and miss in his game has him down on my board. He’ll go in the 7-12 range I think, because he still has some of the loudest tools in this draft. Plus power, arm, and speed. Mr. French Tickler March 20, 2017 Anyone think we could get a shot at Adell like we did with Trammell? The thought of getting another high floor player at 2 (Buskauskas) and high ceiling (Jordon Adell) would be big time. wes March 20, 2017 Thanks Duke! Appreciate the insight! The Duke March 20, 2017 The way they’ve reslotted the draft pick values over signing to that degree may be a thing of the past. I doubt Adell falls out of the top 15 Mjc March 20, 2017 I agree with your list, that’s my wish list order as well.might consider flipping Greene and McKay. DanD March 20, 2017 To me McKay with his fastball in the low 90’s does not seem like a top of the rotation pitcher. With the second pick the Reds need to get this pick right. I am with Wes that they need to go with a bat such as Royce Lewis. If they would go for a pitcher I would go for Greene if the Twins don’t draft him. Does Bukauskas look like he could be an Ace or at worst a #2 in the rotation? Could any of the above pitchers drop to where the Reds could draft at #32 like Hansen dropped last year. We need to get this right like we did with Senzel. The Duke March 20, 2017 Wright has been pretty bad this year. His offspeed hasn’t progressed, his fastball is straight, and his command has taken a step back. I could see him fall come draft time. He’s got an ideal frame and clean mechanics. Everything else has been a mess this year. sultanofswaff March 20, 2017 McKay looks like a rock solid bet to be a #3-4. When you factor in the bat, he is hands down the safest pick in the draft for an NL team. That’s not nothing, and sometimes the safe pick is also the smart pick. DanD March 20, 2017 I totally agree that he looks to be a #3 or 4 starter which the Reds have plenty of that is why I would be leaning towards drafting a bat. With this projection I would think more of a #10-15 pick in the draft not at #2. McKay reminds me a lot of Brooks Kieschnick when he play at Texas with stats of .360 with 43 hrs and was 34-8 on the mound with a 3.05 ERA. not much of a major league career. Simon Cowell March 20, 2017 Since McKay is dominant in both pitching and hitting how can that be a reason to lower his ranking? Regardless of whether we draft him as a pitcher or a hitter we are drafting a very talented young man. If he is a safe #3 or #4 starter and a safe major league quality PH we sign him with no regrets. The Duke March 20, 2017 Precisely why I won’t be heartbroken if we draft McKay. He has elite command and control and three above average MLB pitches right now. Just because he doesn’t throw 98 also doesn’t mean he can never be more than a 3 or 4. Drafting him as a hitter would be a mistake though. Votto isn’t moving, McKay is a 1B only (slllllloooooooowwwwww), the is no DH in the NL, and 1B don’t always have the most trade value. DanD March 20, 2017 Duke, can you think of anyone in the majors now that is either a #1 or 2 that is similar? Hopefully I am totally wrong about the guy. I know he will be a good player but I believe the #2 pick should be an all star player like Bryant every year. Is this just a bad year for drafting a bat? I am leaning towards Lewis myself, hopefully he can stick at SS. This is one position that the Reds really lack not having an elite player at such as Correa, Lindor, Bregman or Dansby to name a few. The Duke March 20, 2017 Jose Quintana sits 90-93 Kyle Hendricks was 88-92 last year Masahiro Tanaka is 89-91 Corey Kluber isn’t a flame thrower JA Happ is 90-94 Like McKay Drew Pomeranz is 89-92 There are likely more, but I’m tired of looking DanD March 20, 2017 I maybe incorrect of lowering his ranking but my main point is if he does project to be a #3 or 4 starter why draft him at #2 when there are plenty of pitchers in the Reds System who fit that same projection? Maybe this is a weak draft where a #3 or 4 starter does go with the second pick. Right now my top 3 would be: Royce Lewis JB Buskauskas Hunter Greene Reaganspad March 20, 2017 Not an option for us this year, but my OSU Beavers are now ranked #1, have the number 1 RPI and just finished sweeping the Sun Devils in Tempe (something they have never done) by a combined score of 16-1. The team leads the nation in era. Luke Heimlich leads the Beavs with a 0.25 era, but he is only 6-0, 190. He has gone 8 innings 3 times so far, maybe someone to watch for later rounds as he is left handed and might be the best pitcher in the NCAA this year, but probably does not project. Lots of talent on this team, better than the team that won back to back 10 years ago. There will be high end picks discussed next year. In the meantime, it will be fun to see how long this video game era goes on. Our best pitcher is coming back from TJ surgery and will be ready for Omaha DanD March 20, 2017 Would be a nice pick lets say around the 4th or 5th round. Just curious how he rated with his pitches. Kap March 20, 2017 I feel like the early round talent in this draft is bad compared to most years. Pick the safest like last year. I would say Royce Lewis or Bukaukas. I think Lewis is the safer pick but Bukauskas seems to have the higher floor in comparison to Lewis The Duke March 20, 2017 College players will almost always have the higher floor. I’ve been super impressed with Lewis’ plays approach though. 5 BB vs 0 K in 3 games so far, can work at bats, and has plus raw power. Some think he can stick at SS, but even the fall back plan is a CF with 70 speed and good instincts. That kind of athleticism, power potential, defense, and plate approach are why he’s at the top of my board. The Rage March 20, 2017 The early round pitching talent is stronger in this draft since the 2000’s. Greene, JB have elite ceilings. JB is the Tim Lincecum of this decade. Look for a great 4-5 years and then the plop, but what a 4-5 years it will be. I don’t see any pitcher with his raw talent in the next 2 drafts. Greene is likewise a franchise talent. IMO, best high school prospect since Kershaw. His frontal mechanics are fantastic for a kid his age. Homer Bailey didn’t develop anything close to 2009. It is a crap shoot in the end. You have to take a dive and hope for the best. Kap March 20, 2017 Any one have anything on this Austin Beck kid? The Duke March 20, 2017 I’ve only just started digging in since he popped up that high in the BA mock top 10. Coming off an ACL and meniscus tear. Big time power, chance to maybe Play CF. Haven’t seen any video yet, but he’s supposed to have some of the best bat speed in the draft. BA had an article on his recovery about a month ago. Doug Gray March 20, 2017 I’m writing about him later this week. Huge helium. Alex Reds March 20, 2017 I’m sure glad the Reds have a top 3 pick in this top three heavy draft. You can’t go wrong with any of Lewis, Greene, or Buskauskas. If I’m predicting what Reds would do, Reds have seemed to put an extra value on proven college talent, so Buskauskas is who I think they would pick. Lewis might be slightly devalued due to depth of shortstops with Vincej and Alfredo Rodriguez. They do seem to like that 70 speed profile for CF or SS, but they have quite a few of those players already. I think Greene would then be their next choice as a high ceiling starter is definitely a need. Steve March 20, 2017 Brendan McKay ranks 5th and 10th in hitting and pitching respectively in NCAA division 1. Gotta love a player like that. He doesn’t have the power arm like some of the others, but is near or at the top of the elite pitchers as far as control is concerned. We all know that the Reds need to have this type of pitcher also. The lack of consistent control has hampered a few of our top prospects from really breaking out with the Reds. Gotta think right now it’s between Greene and Lewis for HS players and Bukauskas and McKay for college players that will be taken by the Reds.