Player: Aaron Blair
Drafted by: Arizona Diamondbacks (No. 36 Overall)
Height/Weight: 6'4"/220 lbs
Previously Drafted: 2010, 21st Round by Houston Astros
After turning down the Houston Astros as a late-round pick three years ago, Blair has worked wonders to improve his stock this time around. He has put together a very good career at Marshall, where he's averaged nearly one strikeout per inning.
Blair was also a star in the Cape Cod League last summer. He was a starter for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox and went 6-0 with 60 strikeouts in 51.1 innings pitched.
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.
Very good, durable body; projects as a solid innings eater in the big leagues; strong mechanics, uses long legs and big step towards home plate to get explosive life on the fastball; will pitch up in the zone more frequently than you would like to see due to three-quarters arm slot; not a big injury risk with clean delivery and motion.
Above-average velocity (92-94); ability to hold heat late into games; pitch can get on hitters quickly thanks to big stride; three-quarters delivery gives pitch very good life; able to induce weak contact; as long as he can keep ball down, should generate a lot of ground balls; projects as plus pitch with a little more consistency.
Below-average offering right now due to lack of velocity and inconsistent shape; delivery and ability to put a little more on it by ditching curveball could help it play up; three-quarters arm slot helps deception and movement; some tilt at present, though it can get loopy at times; will need slider to work in order to reach ceiling.
Solid-average changeup right now with potential for a bit more; sits in the 82-85 mph range; excellent fade and movement down in the zone; arm speed and deception on pitch are above-average; needs to find more consistent release point and throw it more to keep hitters honest.
Very capable strike-thrower; lack of consistency with off-speed pitches leads to some high walk totals; natural movement on fastball helps control play up; development and feel for secondary stuff will bring control to above-average level at peak.
Doesn't hit target often enough, but stuff is so good that he can get away with some mistakes; off-speed stuff holds command back; fastball can play above average because of movement; will need to find consistent release point with slider and changeup; likely won't have better than average command.
MLB Player Comparison: Lance Lynn
Projection: Good No. 4 starter on first-division team, consistently throws 175-185 innings. Below-average No. 3 starter in second-division rotation.
MLB ETA: 2016
Chances of Signing: 75%
Blair is a sneaky first-round prospect in this draft. He doesn't get the kind of hype that the top right-handers do, both because his ceiling isn't as high and because he plays baseball at Marshall. But his stuff is very good, he has polish and can eat innings to save a bullpen.
In a draft with a lot of uncertainty, Blair is the kind of player who can be a rotation stalwart for a long time without ever being a star. That is the type of pitcher teams aren't going to let slip away, regardless of the price tag.