2011 MLB Draft: 10 Prospects with Rawest Talent
Much has been made about this year's incredibly deep and talented MLB draft.
From flamethrowing UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole to Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, among others, the draft is absolutely loaded with future MLB stars.
Perhaps the biggest crapshoot in the MLB draft is what will become of the high school players, and more specifically, whose talent will materialize the best in pro baseball?
A player can have all the raw talent in the world and not amount to a whole lot (Dewon Brazelton, anyone?), or he might be a pudgy kid with a decent swing and become our generation's best player (Albert Pujols).
Here are 10 prospects who have pure, untapped talent. They are high-risk, high-reward prospects. The only thing guaranteed with these guys is great success or spectacular failure.
Jose Fernandez, RHP, Tampa (FL) Alonso HS
Fernandez is an incredible story, a Cuban defector who led his Tampa high school team to the state championship this year.
Physically speaking, he is far from raw. He is a very thick-bodied player, much in the mold of Freddy Garcia.
However, he is very raw from a pitching standpoint.
He does not yet have a very consistent delivery, and his mechanics sometimes change slightly from game to game. This is a very correctable issue, though, and one that will lead to him showing his true potential.
He has a great array of pitches, headlined by a great mid-90s fastball and a potentially terrific curveball.
He should lose some weight and become better conditioned, but Fernandez can definitely be a great pitcher.
Henry Owens, LHP, Huntington Beach (CA) Edison HS
Has anyone ever heard of a tall, lanky lefty with a plus breaking pitch and developing changeup? I'm looking at you, David Price.
Henry Owens definitely has that type of potential. He is not the power pitcher Price is, but he has a very similar skill set.
His fastball can touch 93 or 94 miles per hour on the radar gun with the downward movement that comes with being tall.
His curveball is almost more of a slider, as it has a very tight break and some nice pace to it.
Once the changeup develops more, he will have an outstanding trio of pitches.
His frame needs to fill out some, and he needs to command his secondaries better, but there is little doubt the potential is there for Owens to become a terrific pitcher.
Blake Swihart, C, Rio Rancho (NM) Cleveland HS
It is very rare to come across a catcher who, even at the high school level, projects as a catcher. Swihart has a tremendous arm behind the plate, probably the biggest draw about him.
Other than his defense, there is a lot of growing left for Swihart.
At the plate, he has a good feel for the bat. With added strength expected along the way, he will develop some power. As a switch-hitter, he can become an effective weapon at the plate.
He has already committed to play college ball at Texas, but teams will be throwing money left and right at Swihart.
The biggest part of his game that needs to grow is strength. He will add power and body control, which are both necessary to succeed in pro baseball. He could be a dangerously good catcher.
Dillon Howard, RHP, Searcy (AR) HS
A generally common theme among high school pitchers is that the reason for their high ceiling is their potential to develop quality breaking pitches. Having a good fastball is almost a requirement for top prospects, but what sells scouts more are solid breaking pitches.
Dillon Howard has the potential to throw several of those.
Once he can harness his curveball and changeup and learn to have more consistent mechanics, Howard projects to be a very good prospect. He does have a mid-90s fastball, but it is not too overwhelming. He is still very raw and has plenty of room to grow into a top-flight prospect.
Francisco Lindor, Shortstop, Monteverde (FL) Academy
Every scouting report I read about Lindor seems to compare him to Manny Machado, a very similar prospect who is considered tops in the Orioles' organization. Lindor (5'11") is not quite the tall, lanky fellow Machado (6'3") is, but the skill sets are very comparable.
In a sense, Lindor is an untamed horse. He tends to show off a bit in the field and has some work to do from the left side of the plate (he is a switch hitter).
Already committed to play at Florida State, Lindor has some serious talent, but he needs to understand he cannot always be showing off. Once he understands this, he will become one of the better middle-infield prospects.
Archie Bradley, RHP, Broken Arrow (OK) HS
Archie Bradley is Oklahoma's answer to Bubba Starling. He committed to play football at Oklahoma, but in all likelihood, he will stay with baseball.
He projects as an excellent right-handed pitcher with two plus breaking pitches. Again, a concern about him, like other multi-sport athletes, is how his focus on one sport will go.
There is always a chance of mechanics getting tweaked a bit too much or mental approach being compromised.
For Bradley, though, the sky is the limit.
He has a mid-90s fastball and a great body for his age, even though it is likely to grow. He has all the physical tools and great leadership. As long as the transition from two-sport star to baseball stud goes well, he'll be fine.
Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Spring Valley (SC) HS
There is nothing sexier to a baseball scout than a 6'3" high schooler who can throw 98 miles per hour. That being said, Taylor Guerrieri is the Brooklyn Decker of pitchers this year. He has an incredibly live arm and big enough of a frame where arm health is not a current concern.
Guerrieri's secondary pitches have not yet developed, but they show great potential. His slider especially has the potential to be an elite pitch.
Of course, they might never adequately develop, but that is always a risk when taking a pitcher like Guerrieri. However, the prospect of having such a strong arm with great potential makes him a good pick.
Daniel Norris, LHP, Johnson City (TN) Science Hill HS
It has become a good argument within the draft community about which left-handed high school pitcher, Daniel Norris or Henry Owens, has a higher ceiling. Both of these pitchers are very good, but Norris seems to be further along in his development.
He is still very raw, though, especially from a control standpoint. He has a low-to-mid-90s fastball and the makings of three other very good pitches, most notably a changeup.
He is a good student and, from all the scouting reports I've read, appears to have great intangibles.
The concern with Norris is shortening his delivery and refining his control. His curveball seems to be a trouble spot, especially considering it is a super-slow 70 miles per hour.
Regardless, once Norris gets some pro coaching, he could become special.
Bubba Starling, Outfielder/RHP, Gardner Edgerton (KS) HS
If you've looked into the prospects for this year's draft, you've almost certainly heard of Starling.
There is an easy comparison between him and Carl Crawford, but Starling may be more talented. He is a three-sport star, an absolutely phenomenal athlete with an offer to play football at Nebraska.
He can be a pitcher with a high-90s fastball or a five-tool outfielder.
As with many multi-sport athletes, there can be an issue of how well he will adjust to playing just one sport at a very high level, but Starling looks very capable.
He might have the most raw talent of any high schooler in the draft. It's only a matter of whether it will translate to success in the pros.
Dylan Bundy, RHP, Owasso (OK) HS
Of all the high school pitchers in this year's draft, Bundy may be the most matured. Whereas many pitchers his age have lanky frames and have yet to fill out, Bundy is a very built young man who is close to his physical potential.
That being said, his stuff is still very raw. He still must learn to command his curveball and changeup and has some mechanical issues to work out.
In terms of raw talent, though, Bundy is towards the top of the pack. Whichever team gets him has a future workhorse power pitcher.