5 High School Pitchers Who Could Be MLB Stars One Day
The complexity of the MLB draft can muddle the future of high school pitchers—whether to commit to a career straight out of high school or to test their draft stock and see how they perform at the collegiate level.
It's a daunting decision that will affect the rest of a pitcher's professional career, but as baseball scouts are prone to say, "When you've got it, you've got it. And you, son, have got it."
The following five hurlers have got what those in baseball call "it".
Evaluations refer to Keith Law's Top 100 Prospects on ESPN.com.
5. Jacob Brentz, Parkway South High School (Ballwin, MO.)
Keith Law's Top 100 Prospects: No. 33
Hailing just 30 minutes west of St. Louis, Jacob Brentz could end up in the Cardinals' system with the organization owning the 28th overall pick. That is, if the Cards are looking for a hard-throwing left-hander.
Clocked in the upper 90s with his fastball this spring, Brentz has the proper tools to become an effective pitcher at the major league level after some minor tweaking with his mechanics.
Any young pitcher with the ability to throw in the mid-90s consistently throughout a start will need to learn to harness his fastball and perfect his finesse pitches. After some adjustment years in the minors, Brentz's raw talent should prove worthy of a major league rotation and the fastball will be his go-to pitch.
Consider Brentz a dark horse in this year's draft.
4. Hunter Harvey, Bandys High School (Catawba, N.C.)
Keith Law's Top 100 Prospects: No. 24
Put aside the alliterative nature of the Hunter Harvey brand, which easily makes him a household name, and you've got a quality high school hurler with a high ceiling.
Harvey won't overpower hitters with his fastball, which ranges in the lower-90s, but pair it with his slow, sweeping curveball, which clocks in between 75-77 MPH, and he has a strikeout combination.
The right-hander needs to work on his command and control, like many high school pitchers, and the addition of a reliable third pitch is an absolute necessity.
However, once Harvey puts on a few more pounds to build his 6'3'', 175-pound frame, he can be taught to drive off the rubber using more of his lower half and begin to compete successfully at the professional level.
3. Kyle Serrano, Farragut High School (Tennessee)
Keith Law's Top 100 Prospects: No. 21
Kyle Serrano is as polished as they come out of high school with three strong pitches and command on the mound.
His fastball will sit comfortably in the lower 90s and is complemented with a tremendous curveball that has a strong break, both horizontally and vertically, and an above-average changeup.
Serrano's father, Dave, is the baseball coach at the University of Tennessee where Kyle has committed barring being taken by a major league club with a likely high draft pick. He has the desire to play for his father, but Serrano has eventual potential in the majors as an eventual front-of-the-rotation starter.
The only real downside is Serrano's size at 6'0'', 185 pounds, which may hinder his ability to power the ball past hitters. There are ways to combat those who are height-challenged and Serrano should have plenty of guidance along the way.
2. Trey Ball, New Castle High School (Indiana)
Keith Law's Top 100 Prospects: No. 14
Just as Jonathan Gray and Mark Appel separated themselves as the top college pitchers in the draft, so did Trey Ball as one of two high school pitchers.
There is a lot of promise for Ball as a professional as he enters the draft as a two-way prospect, capable of playing the outfield as well as pitching. His frame of 6'6'' and 180 pounds easily pushes MLB clubs to view him as a pitcher first, especially as a left-hander with a strong arm.
His fastball will remain in the low 90s, occasionally touching 94 MPH, while his curveball and changeup are both average with the possibility of becoming above-average pitches as he progresses.
With some work on his mechanics and delivery, Ball could work his way up to the No. 2 spot in a major league rotation. If pitching doesn't work out for him in the majors, he'll have a cannon for an arm as a right fielder.
1. Kohl Stewart, St. Pius X (Houston, TX.)
Keith Law's Top 100 Prospects: No. 5
Behind two well-established college pitchers in Mark Appel of Stanford and Jonathan Gray of Oklahoma, Kohl Stewart enters the draft as the next-best pitching prospect.
Durably built, the 6'3'', 190-pound right-hander has four convincing pitches in his arsenal that will be fooling batters at the professional level in a matter of years. His fastball sits in the mid-90s range, capable of hitting 97 MPH, and his hard curveball and straight changeup are meant to baffle hitters.
Stewart's out pitch, however, is his slider, which can come in as fast as 88 MPH and breaks hard and away from right-handed batters.
His football scholarship to Texas A&M would be a waste of baseball talent as Stewart would ride the bench behind Johnny Manziel.
Recognized as the best high school arm in the country, Stewart will be gone in the top-10 of the draft.