Player: Turner Larkins
Drafted by: Milwaukee Brewers
DOB: 11/6/1995 (Age: 18)
Height/Weight: 6'3", 215 lbs
School: Martin (Texas) HS
College Commitment: Texas A&M
There's something in the water in Texas, because the state produced several physically developed young arms in this draft class. Turner Larkins already looks like an MLB starting pitcher, which is one reason there was helium around him entering this draft.
Another thing that he has going for him is being one of the most decorated high school pitchers in the class. He took part in the 2013 Area Code Games and Team USA U-18 trials and was a Perfect Game Underclass All-American.
Larkins was impressive during the 2013 World Wood Bat Association event last October, showing two above-average-or-better pitches and launching into the top two rounds of the draft. He's committed to Texas A&M.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
Larkins is virtually a finished product physically, though he could add a few more pounds of muscle if he wanted to; big, sturdy, durable right-handed starter who can easily crack 180-200 innings every year; delivery and arm action are solid, staying over the rubber with ease and getting some deception with a high three-quarters arm slot; stays too high at times, leading to elevated pitches, but has the build and pieces to generate plane on the fastball.
Generates solid-average velocity (89-92 mph) at present, with the potential to add a tick or two more with added muscle; arm-side run when he throws it on the inner half of the plate, but he otherwise stays straight; tends to live up in the zone, which benefits hitters; needs to stay on top of pitch better to generate plane from 6'3" frame.
Breaking ball will occasionally flash above-average with good spin and depth, but he doesn't show it enough to project as more than average; not a power curve, more of a slow change-of-pace offering in the 72-75 mph range; arm angle tends to hurt the curveball because he gets on the side of it upon release instead of over the top, leading to more of a slurve than a traditional curve.
Larkins doesn't have much incentive to show the changeup right now due to success with the fastball and curveball; needs to work on his feel for the pitch, which is subpar right now; has something to work with because he doesn't telegraph it by slowing his body/arm down, and there's some late tumble, but he needs to start throwing it more to make advanced hitters respect it.
Does a good job of throwing strikes right now, maintaining his release point from pitch to pitch and inning to inning; direct line to the plate, combined with the calm mechanics he shows, makes it easy to repeat the delivery; does live up in the zone too much, especially with the fastball, but the ball is always around the plate.
When you only have above-average feel for one pitch (fastball), it's hard to put a strong present grade on command; knocked for throwing the fastball around belt high; lack of feel for the curveball and changeup makes it impossible to spot the pitches where he needs to; enough projection in them to see the feel coming down the road, suggesting average command.
MLB Player Comparison: Ian Kennedy
Ian Kennedy's career took off when he learned to throw a curveball and ditch a slider that had virtually no spin. He's been a successful innings-eater for a long time, with one outlier season thrown in the mix, and will always find work in the back of a rotation.
That's the kind of pitcher Larkins is: His stuff isn't going to overpower anyone, and there are times when the long ball will get him in trouble, but the overall package is that of a reliable No. 4 starter who can log innings and post a few seasons with a league-average ERA.
Projection: No. 4 starter in first-division rotation
MLB ETA: 2017
Chances of Signing: 80%
It would be in Larkins' best interest to work with professional coaching right away. He can learn valuable lessons at Texas A&M, but no one is going to teach him the intricacies of a changeup and how to spin a better breaking ball the way he needs to at that level.
Plus, when you are a second-round talent who is looking at the money associated with that, combined with the rash of injuries to pitchers we are seeing, it isn't smart to walk away from the allure of Major League Baseball.