2013 MLB Draft: Top 15 Pitching Prospects
Top Pitching Prospects
This year’s draft class is considered to be thin by most measures. Outside of Mark Appel, who is leftover from not signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates this past year due to the new signing bonus regulations, there is few to no top pitching talents in this draft class.
No team this year will be getting a Stephen Strasburg level talent, but it is possible that a team drafts a high-octane arm with breakout potential, much like New York Mets’ Matt Harvey.
There are still a few arms that could be very interesting to teams. Sean Manaea has very high potential, but doesn’t come from a school known for grooming big leaguers. Ryne Stanek has great stuff and has shut down tough competition, but his high walk rate could be alarming to big league clubs.
Most teams with top 10 picks, such as the Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates could all benefit from long term pitching help, and when position playing studs such as Kris Bryant and Colin Moran are taken, the pitchers could fly off the board, and quickly.
Out of these top 15 pitching prospects, six of them are prep school arms, while the other nine are college hurlers. Only Appel is coming out of his senior year. These numbers are about what is expected, and are similar to the 2012 draft.
This year, however, most of these arms are expected to go in the first round. Here are this year’s top 15 pitching prospects, in order of their likelihood to reach the big leagues.
Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford University
Mark Appel is likely the most well-known name in this year's draft. He was on teams' radars out of high school when he flashed a low-90s fastball with his 6'6'' frame, but his time at Stanford has clearly refined him. He throws a mid-90s fastball that has touched 99, a changeup with plus potential and a slider that already appears to be a plus pitch.
Appel's primary appeal is that he will make it to the big leagues quickly. He is always around the plate, his secondary pitches are very advanced and his velocity is already above-average.
There are, however, drawbacks to Appel's game. While on paper he looks like a tantalizing prospect, he's not quite phenom-level, like many players in previous drafts. His pitches, while very well refined, lack movement that many believe is necessary to make the true swing-and-miss pitches at the big league level.
Appel may not be a guarantee to be a future ace, but his combination of velocity, control and big-league ready secondaries make him the clear number one pitcher in this draft class.
Jonathan Gray, RHP, University of Oklahoma
Jonathan Gray may be more like 1B to Appel's 1A, rather than putting him second. Gray transferred to Oklahoma out of junior college, and has increased his velocity to almost obscene levels. He throws a mid to upper-90s fastball that has hit triple digits, and complements it with a hard upper-80s breaking ball.
Both of Gray's offerings are considered to be top notch, and he could reach the big leagues as quickly as Appel.
Gray also comes with his set of drawbacks, though, albeit some of them are nitpicking. Gray is as tall as Appel, but much thicker and less athletic, leading some to call into question his durability as a major league starter. His lack of a third offering also causes concern to some.
Whichever team drafts Gray will undoubtedly receive the highest potential pitcher in the draft.
Braden Shipley, RHP, University of Nevada
It's pretty incredible that Braden Shipley is as highly touted of a pitcher that he is, considering not very long ago he was only a shortstop. Not primarily, but only. Shipley switched from short to pitching full time during his sophomore year at U of Nevada, using his large, athletic build to pump in heat.
Shipley has the type of struggles you'd expect from a recently-converted pitcher. His changeup and curveball don't appear to be anything all that special and still require some work to become effective secondaries, and this has been exacerbated by the fact that his college coaches don't call his off-speed offerings much.
Shipley has good potential and already is basically around the plate with all of his pitches, which demonstrates an aptitude for learning the position, which is important as the learning curve is steep in the pros.
Kohl Stewart, RHP, St. Pius X HS
Kohl Stewart is a quarterback. Currently a recruit for both baseball and football at Texas A&M, Stewart has natural athleticism and a superb arm. He already sits in the low-90s with his fastball and reportedly has hit 97. His off-speed offerings are inconsistent, but show strong potential
If Stewart elects to play professional baseball, it is likely that we would see rapid improvements in his breaking ball and changeup, and if he can put the whole package together, his stuff could be lethal. He's 6'3'' and just shy of 200 pounds, and he is without a doubt the best high school arm in the draft.
Although signability is an issue with Stewart, many expect him to sign with a professional baseball team shortly after he is drafted, so expect him to be drafted quite early, probably within the top 10 picks.
Sean Manaea, RHP, Indiana State University
Sean Manaea is widely considered to be the best left-hander in the draft, standing at a lean 6'5'' with some room to fill out. Manaea made a name for himself in the Cape Cod League, the most competitive collegiate summer league, where he struck out 85 and walked just seven in just over 53 innings.
Manaea throws a low- to mid-90s fastball with good sink and tail, and he complements it with an inconsistent but nasty slider and a developing changeup. His potential is similar to that of White Sox lefty Chris Sale, but Manaea quite clearly lacks the refinement that Sale had, while his lack of a herky-jerky motion is a plus.
Some worry about Manaea coming out of a less prestigious collegiate program at Indiana State, but his Cape Cod performance should silence the doubters.
Trey Ball, LHP, New Castle HS
Trey Ball is considered to be the best high school left hander of the draft, but is a notch below Kohl Stewart due to lack of present velocity. Ball is currently an upper-80s to lower-90s hurler with some solid sink.
Everything else about Ball compares favorably to Stewart. He throws a changeup in the upper-70s with good arm speed, sink and tail. His 6'6'' frame suggests that he has room to fill out and add velocity.
Ball throws a curveball, but it is an inconsistent pitch that needs work. Trey figures to be a bit of a project, but the payoff could be huge. A left-hander with a plus changeup is not easy to find, and if he can also add velocity and a great curveball, he can be a front line starter.
Ryne Stanek, RHP, University of Arkansas
Ryne Stanek has been on teams' radars for a while now, drafted in the third round a few years ago before following through with his commitment to Arkansas.
Stanek features a low-90s fastball with solid sink that should be an effective major league pitch. His fastball is complemented well by a mid-80s slider with tight movement and a solid low-80s changeup that should at least be serviceable.
He is 6'4'' and still is quite thin at 180 pounds, and should have plenty of room to grow and perhaps add velocity. He is not as exciting as some of the pitchers on the list, and has had his share of command troubles, but he is a solid pitcher.
Rob Kaminsky, LHP, St. Joseph HS
The emergence of Mike Trout has led to a lot more attention to talent in amateur talent from New Jersey. One player who has benefited from all of this extra attention is lefty Rob Kaminsky, an undersized but overpowering hurler from prep school in Jersey.
Kaminsky features a low-90s fastball that hits 93 with regularity. He couples that offering with a power curve that can clip 80 MPH, and a developing changeup. He can pound the zone, and he has ridiculous numbers even for a high school pitcher in the northern states, ringing up 107 batters in 51 innings, allowing just one run.
Drawbacks of selecting Kaminsky is the bonus it will take to pry him from his commitment to UNC, and the fact that his competition likely wasn't at the level of his southern prep school counterparts. Finally, scouts worry about his size, as he is only six feet tall. Still, he could bring a lot of surplus value to a mid-first round selection.
Marco Gonzales, LHP, Gonzaga University
While not as explosive as Sean Manaea, Marco Gonzales represents a more polished and solid college left-hander who can locate well and overcome his lack of a shutdown breaking ball or high velocity fastball. He's only 6'1'' and he doesn't light up the gun, but he can pitch.
Gonzales has great command of his high-80s to low-90s fastball, and couples it with a plus changeup that he he also can locate superbly. While his curveball is loopy and slider is inconsistent, he could move through the minors quickly off of his fastball/changeup combo.
Hunter Harvey, RHP, Bandys HS
Hunter Harvey has recently generated a lot of press for his impressive performance in high school, and considering his bloodline, no one should be surprised. He is the son of two-time All-Star Bryan Harvey, and he seems to be living up to the family name. Hunter has a fastball that can touch the mid-90s with regularity and shows a true plus curveball.
Harvey has a lot of raw talent, but has little experience against top-level competition due to the lack of playing on high-level travel teams or attending high-profile showcases. Harvey is one of the most high octane arms in the draft, but he comes with his share of risk. If a team really wants to shoot big, Harvey is not a bad pick.
Chris Anderson, RHP, Jacksonville University
Chris Anderson is a big righty with repeatable mechanics who can pump his fastball into the mid-90s and utilizes a solid slider that has plus potential. He also features a usable changeup, a repertoire that suggests to scouts that he could be a solid two starter in a competitive big league rotation.
Anderson bears the burden of the Jacksonville rotation. He is by far the best pitcher on staff and he is treated as such, getting a lot of work over the course of the season, which some feel is a red flag that could lead to injury. I believe that this concern is overblown, and Anderson is a very safe bet to be a solid big league pitcher.
Matt Krook, LHP, St. Ignatius Prep
Matt Krook is a strong tall high school left hander from northern California who can hit the mid-90s with a smooth drop and drive delivery. He's under 200 pounds, so he has room to fill in, and releases from a very over the top arm slot that generates some solid sink.
Krook has very apparent command issues, as he walked about one batter per two innings, but the stuff is quite apparent, and the payoff of the pick could be huge.
Ian Clarkin, LHP, Madison HS
Ian Clarkin won't devastate with high velocity, but he can become a very good MLB pitcher with just about everything else. His fastball, which currently sits between 88-92 MPH, has solid arm-side run, and is complemented by a solid, developing changeup. His command is good, and leaves some room for improvement, but his bread and butter is his curveball, which has helped him dominate high school ball in a competitive San Diego environment.
Clarkin comes with the same inherent risks of any high school pitcher, but is relatively small at 6'2 and is considered to lack projectability. His stuff is good, but he isn't as polished as some first round college arms and lacks the potential of some high school arms, so he may fall to the back end of the first round, but it could be very worth it.
Bobby Wahl, RHP, Ole Miss
Bobby Wahl lacks the polish of some college pitchers, but the Ole Miss power arm has played against top shelf competition, playing in the SEC and for Team USA. He has a mid-90s fastball, and uses that to generate strikeouts. He pairs it with a solid curveball, and is developing a changeup.
There are few doubts that Wahl has the power stuff to be a competent big league reliever, but will need heightened command and to develop his changeup to at least an acceptable major league pitch.
Tom Windle, LHP, University of Minnesota
Tom Windle, perhaps best known for throwing a no-hitter in the Cape Cod League, may not pitch at the level of a Mark Appel or a Jonathan Gray, but its hard to argue with a no-hitter at that competitive of a level. Additionally, Windle's junior year performance, striking out 86 and posting a 2.14 ERA over 92 innings was impressive.
Windle is 6'4'' and pumps a fastball in the low-90s, and all of his secondaries -- changeup, slider and curve, flash solid ability. Windle has some inconsistency with mechanics, which are less than perfect and may affect his velocity, but sometimes performance just speaks for itself.