Player: Phil Bickford
Drafted by: Toronto Blue Jays (No. 10 Overall)
DOB: 7/10/1995 (Age: 17)
Height/Weight: 6'4"/185 lbs
School: Oaks Christian HS (Ventura, Calif.)
College Commitment: Cal State Fullerton
Bickford has one of the best arms in this class, boasting a low-90s fastball already with the frame to add more muscle and velocity as he matures. A standout at the Area Code Games last summer, he has held his velocity through this spring in high school and generates a lot of buzz for the projection he brings.
There are some red flags, as his fastball is his only average pitch right now. It is going to take a lot of coaching from the team that drafts him, as well as physical development to get Bickford to reach his ceiling.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 20-80 scouting scale, where 50 is average, with the current score first and projected score second.
Incredible arm speed and action from the right side; three-quarter delivery gets late life on fastball; clean release; solid command of deep arsenal; no history of injury or arm problems; ball is easy to spot out of his hand; makes good use of lower half in delivery; at times will stay too low to the ground, causing ball to sail on him.
Fastball already features above-average velocity at 91-93 mph; three-quarter delivery gives tremendous late movement; solid control of the pitch in the zone; still refining command but life on pitch makes it above-average; should add more velocity in next two-three years as body matures; could be plus-plus offering at peak in high 90s with explosive life.
Slider likely won't be more than average in pro ball; lacks good tilt and limited break at present; no deception in delivery makes pitch easy to read out of his hand; doesn't command pitch well at present; confidence in pitch will determine how well it develops, though not likely to be successful swing-and-miss offering at next level.
Doesn't use changeup enough right now for it to be effective weapon; still learning grip and feel for pitch; command is well below-average; arm slot creates more potential for late fade and movement when he gets comfortable throwing pitch; ability to maintain arm speed upon delivery will help pitch deception; should be an above-average pitch at peak.
Works well off fastball; lack of consistent off-speed pitches limit present ability; huge ceiling thanks largely to command of heater, present velocity and ability to add more in the future; ability to throw off-speed stuff for strikes will determine ultimate ceiling.
Still more thrower than pitcher at present; blows fastball by hitters now due to velocity, but will have to become more efficient at next level; doesn't command any off-speed pitch; changeup command lags behind other pitches right now; lack of deception means he will have to spot pitches in order to succeed.
MLB Player Comparison: Jeff Samardzija
Projection: No. 2 starter on first-division team.
MLB ETA: 2018
Chances of Signing: 70%
Bickford's high-risk, high-reward potential will make it easy for teams to convince him that getting into professional baseball right now is the right move. Being able to let him develop off-speed pitches with a big league development staff could be critical for his development right now.
On the flip side, teams also know that a player with his risk could drive his price down a bit. That may not be something Bickford is willing to budge on, especially with his commitment to Cal State Fullerton.