Thursday, November 26, 2015

Road to the Show: Top End Prep Arms in the 2016 MLB Draft

While the 2016 MLB Draft is still 7 months away, it is never too early to take a look at some of the top talent available. Many other big names are sure to pop up between now and draft time, but as of right now, scouts already have a good feel for the high end talent of the upcoming draft. This year, the draft will be heavy on college pitchers and outfielders, but their are some high ceiling players at other positions as well. In this piece, we will take a look at two of the top high school arms in the class, left hander Jason Groome and righty Riley Pint.

LHP Jason Groome, IMG Academy (Florida)/Barnegat HS (New Jersey)
Groome, a native of New Jersey, is considered to be one of the premier talents of this class and very likely to go first overall to the Philadelphia Phillies. Groome stands in at 6'6'', with three plus pitches that he can command well. A Vanderbilt committ, he will likely pass on college to sign with a pro team. He stands out with his pitchability and plus stuff, and he has used it against hitters older than him as he is one of the youngest prospects in the draft class. His fastball has sat 90-94 and has touched 96 since he was 16 and there is room for even more. Groome also throws a two-seamer around 89-92 that has good armside run. His curveball is around 75-78 mph with good depth that is a 60/65 grade and is probably his best pitch. He mixes in a decent, developing changeup as well. He has been on the circuit for quite a while now, and most scouts are familiar with him and his experience playing against more advanced competition. The delivery and mechanics are clean and repeatable, although his arm does not seem to get maximum extension on his pitches. The upside on this kid reminds me of Jon Lester, whose fastball and curveball seem to be his bread and butter in getting strikeouts, and had decent command to go with it. Any high school arm is risky of course, but between his exposure to advanced competition and pitchability, Groome is one of the more advanced prep pitchers in this draft class.

RHP Riley Pint, St. Thomas Aquinas HS (Kansas)
Pint is the other top talent arm in this draft, drawing comps to other recent prep righties such as Lucas Giolito and Dylan Bundy, but he might as well be the polar opposite of Jason Groome. Not only is he right-handed, he throws consistently harder at 95-96, hitting 98 with good life, running and rising. His delivery is a lot higher effort, with his head jerking at the end of each pitch. He hasn't been on the travel circuit as long as Groome and doesn't have as much exposure as he plays basketball competitively in the winter as well, but he arguably has better pure stuff. He also throws a hard curveball at around 83-88 that flashes plus plus, but his inexperience causes it to waver and be inconsistent. His changeup has shown flashes if potential, like everything else he throws, but he doesn't throw it very often as so far he has lived on his fastball/curveball. He has a 3/4 delivery and throws mostly with his arm with a big whipping action, not taking full advantage of his big 6'4'' frame.  A raw project, whichever team that drafts him will be taking on a big risk, but if he eventually puts everything together, he could have three plus pitches and anchor the top of any rotation. At his peak, Pint can match Justin Verlander in his prime, but he has a lot of work to do before he reaches his potential.

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