Player: Jack Flaherty
Drafted by: St. Louis Cardinals
DOB: 10/15/1995 (Age: 18)
Height/Weight: 6'3", 190 pounds
School: Harvard-Westlake (California) HS
College Commitment: North Carolina
Not that scouts wouldn't have found him anyway, but Jack Flaherty's journey to the draft was made much easier for MLB teams due to the fact that he was a sophomore at Harvard-Westlake High School in 2012.
If you recall, that's the year Harvard-Westlake sent left-hander Max Fried (No. 7 overall to San Diego) and Lucas Giolito (No. 16 overall to Washington) to professional baseball. It's hard to imagine a better scenario to get scouted than that.
Flaherty, while not as highly touted as those two pitchers, is no slouch. He's a two-way player who could be drafted either way, though there's a higher ceiling on the mound.
A team that drafts him may let him take the Casey Kelly route, where he pitches part time early while playing a position in order to prove that the latter isn't going to work in pro ball, especially if he has his mind set on playing the field.
Since Flaherty, by all accounts, is going to get drafted as a pitcher, that's how we are going to evaluate him.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
Prototypical size for a right-handed starter at 6'3" with the ability to get a little thicker in the future; tremendous athlete, Flaherty has quiet, simple mechanics and explodes to the plate with a quick arm; never had problems repeating his delivery, showing stellar control for a high school pitcher; high three-quarters release creates some deception and gets run on the fastball.
Flaherty doesn't have an overpowering fastball that is going to miss bats, but he understands how to pitch off the heater; sits 90-92 mph with it and will occasionally touch one or two miles higher; pitch could play up because of the control, with the chance to improve half a grade in the future as his frame fills out.
There's average potential with both of Flaherty's breaking balls; slider isn't very hard and doesn't always have good tilt; rather it will float from one side of the plate to the other; has a feel for it but has to get tighter spin in order to have an average pitch.
Flaherty shows good feel for a breaking ball but must learn to find the right release point; too often he will let it go early, leaving it way up in the zone; the hammer projects as an average pitch with tight spin and late break that will miss a few MLB bats.
Easily Flaherty's best weapon, the changeup has elite potential; already has the feel for it, which is critical for the pitch to develop; has the confidence to throw it in any situation; arm speed and angle make it difficult to pick up out of his hand, and the late fading action leads to a lot of swings and misses.
Besides the changeup, his best weapon is his ability to throw all of his pitches for strikes; has moments when that goes away, as you will find with any young pitcher, but the overall ability is there; loses his release point from the windup, leaving balls up in the zone, though it's not so alarming to knock the control profile down.
Flaherty's ability to pound the zone with all four pitches is an asset, though he struggles to put the ball where he wants consistently; has all the makings of an average command pitcher with simple mechanics and quick, easy arm action; breaking balls are the biggest obstacles to getting outs, though there have been enough flashes to think they will come along.
MLB Player Comparison: Jarrod Parker
Even though Parker's future is uncertain following a second Tommy John surgery, he was turning into one of the better young pitchers in baseball. He had an outstanding debut season in 2012, posting 3.5 WAR, and was solid in his sophomore year.
Flaherty's raw stuff isn't as electric as Parker's was as a prospect, but the ability to pitch and throw four pitches for strikes is reminiscent of what Parker was doing in Oakland before getting hurt.
Projection: No. 3 starter in first-division rotation
MLB ETA: 2018
Chances of Signing: 60 percent
Flaherty is one of the few top-100 prospects in this class with a strong chance to attend college. He may not want to move to the mound full time, especially with the rash of injuries happening to pitchers this season, so his best chance to develop the bat will come at North Carolina.
The 18-year-old isn't a lost cause with the bat, showing a quick swing through the zone and the ability to read pitchers, but with minimal range, a move to third base seems likely. That means he has to add a lot more power to project as an everyday player.