The Draft Philes: Post 1st Round College Arms

This year’s crop of college prospects isn’t as strong as it’s been in years past, with not as many “safe” plays in the early rounds. But of course, the Phillies strategy the last couple of years even when drafting high school talent has been to get talent that had a good chance to reach their floor, so they will look for college players in this draft who are closer to their ceiling and who can contribute within the next couple of years. So today we look at four college arms who have intrigued me as possibilities for the Phillies mainly with their second pick at 45, and one other from Maryland who could be an interesting choice as a future swingman option in rounds three to five.

Corbin Martin, RHP, Texas A&M

6’2″, 200 lb

B/T: R/R

Previously Drafted: Never

Rankings (as of 6/8): MLB.com #32, Baseball America #56, ESPN #76

Strengths

Lands closed, generates plenty of velocity from torque he generates. Fastball sits 91-95 mph as a starter, tops at 95-98 in relief exploding out of a 3/4 slingshot arm action with exceptional life. Slider is a swing and miss pitch with mid-80s velocity as a starter, upper 80s as a reliever; has good tilt and late break. Has good feel for his change-up, comfortable throwing to both lefties and righties; has good late fade to it.

Weaknesses

Lacks command of his entire arsenal. Future injury risk with amount of effort and stress he puts in his arm. Sometimes loses feel for his breaking ball, gets confusing between a slider and a curveball, but not so much slurvy.

What the Numbers Say

2015 (Freshman): 14 G, 18.1 IP, 2-0, 2.95 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 21 K, 12 BB, 14 H, 1 HR allowed, .222 opp AVG, 10.31 K/9, 5.89 BB/9, 78 batters faced, 26.9 K%, 15.4 BB%

2016 (Sophomore): 16 G (3 GS), 26.1 IP, 2-1, 5.47 ERA, 1.90 WHIP, 33 K, 21 BB, 29 H, 3 HR allowed, 2 WP, 11.28 K/9, 7.18 BB/9

2017 (Junior): 22 G (11 GS), 81.1 IP, 7-3, 2.99 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 87 K, 36 BB, 76 H, 5 HR allowed, .245 opp AVG, 9 WP, 2 HBP, 9.63 K/9, 3.98 BB/9, 356 Batters faced, 24.4 K%, 10.1 BB%

Overall Assessment

Martin’s key issue at the next level will be command, but getting into rhythm as a starter has seemed to given him more confidence. Fastball will play no matter what role and range of velocity he has because of the cutting life it has. He’ll have to be more consistent with the type of breaking ball he wants to use, not to cross up between his curveball and slider. An organization that drafts him should continue to experiment with him in a starter’s role where he can potentially develop into a #3/#4 starter, that can get plenty of strikeouts. His long term future will more likely be in the bullpen where his arsenal will play better in short spurts.

Alex Lange, RHP, LSU

6’3″, 199 lb

B/T: R/R

Previously Drafted: Never

Rankings: MLB.com #23, Baseball America #34, ESPN #45 

Strengths

Good build, room to add a bit more weight in the future; a lot of length in his legs, gets good drive off them. Upper 70s curveball has 12-6 late break and plenty of depth; best pitch he can command. Fastball sits comfortably in the low 90s, can reach back to 95 when needed. Change-up has late fade, can throw lefties off-balance with it. Great makeup and confidence

Weaknesses

Mechanics get inconsistent. Average fastball command, tends to rush to the plate. Lot of effort in his delivery, a bit of an “inverted W” with his arms in stride. Doesn’t have great feel for his change-up, comes and goes start to start.

What the Numbers Say

2015 (Freshman): 17 G (all starts), 114 IP, 12-0, 2 CG, 1 SHO, 1.97 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 131 K, 46 BB, 87 H, 3 HR allowed, .212 opp avg, 12 WP, 3 HBP, 10.34 K/9, 3.63 BB/9

2016 (Sophomore): 17 G (all starts), 111.2 IP, 8-4, 2 CG, 3.79 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 125 K, 49 BB, 92 H, 12 HR allowed, .226 opp avg. 12 WP, 7 HBP, 10.07 K/9, 3.95 BB/9

2017 (Junior): 16 G (all starts), 103.1 IP, 9-5, 4 CG, 2 SHO, 2.87 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 124 K, 34 BB, 94 H, 9 HR allowed, .240 opp avg, 8 WP, 3 HBP, 10.8 K/9, 2.96 BB/9

Overall Assessment

Lange’s fastball/curveball combination will elicit plenty of swings and misses on the major league level to the point where his floor will be a back-end reliever. The inconsistencies in his mechanics and gaining a bit more feel for his third offering will be things he needs to seriously work on if he will hit his ceiling of a mid-rotation starter. Fact he continues to still uses his change-up even if he doesn’t have a feel for it will be good for its development down the road.

Brian Shaffer, RHP, Maryland

6’5″, 200 lb

B/T: R/R

Previously Drafted: Never

Rankings: MLB.com #168, Baseball America #126

Strengths

Loose, clean delivery. Exceptional command of fastball, gets good sinking and running life from low 3/4 arm action; sits in low 90s, touches 95 mph. Pounds fastball in to right-handers. Breaking ball has a slurvy feel to it, leaning more towards slider, but has good late break with a 11-5 tilt and he controls it well.

Weaknesses

Doesn’t have a consistent third offering, has little feel for his change-up. Breaking ball command can be spotty at times.

What the Numbers Say

2015 (Freshman): 16 G (11 GS), 61 IP, 5-1, 1 SV, 4.57 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 52 K, 9 BB, 63 H, 7 HR allowed, .265 opp avg, 5 HBP, 7.67 K/9, 1.33 BB/9

2016 (Sophomore): 15 G (all starts), 103.2 IP, 8-3, 3 CG, 2 SHO, 2.60 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 75 K, 13 BB, 78 H, 5 HR allowed, .209 opp avg, 1 WP, 12 HBP, 6.51 K/9, 1.13 BB/9

2017 (Senior): 16 G (all starts), 108.1 IP, 7-4, 2 CG, 2.66 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 109 K, 18 BB, 88 H, 11 HR allowed, .223 opp avg, 1 WP, 10 HBP

Overall Assessment

Shaffer’s impeccable command will be his calling card, but unless he develops an average change-up, he will be bouncing between AAA and majors as a starter, instead of firmly being a major league back-end starter. His best chance of staying in the majors long term is likely as a groundball reliever who can just concentrate on getting outs instead of strikeouts.

 

Tristan Beck, RHP, Stanford

6’4″, 190 lb

B/T: R/R

Previously Drafted: Milwaukee Brewers, 2015 34th Rd

Rankings: MLB.com #53, Baseball America #41, ESPN #62

Strengths

Tall, wiry, projectable frame, gained 30 lbs from last season according to team website. Throws his fastball downhill from overhand angle for strikes, gets good cut and run to it; sits 90-93 mph, chance for more velocity with added weight and muscle development. Change-up plays off his fastball well, with some late fade but similar movement to his fastball. Curveball has tight spin with a 11-5 late break where it flashes plus. Works quick.

Weaknesses

Suffered stress fracture in back before his sophomore season at Stanford. Slider has a loopy feel, doesn’t have a good feel for the pitch, probably won’t use it in the majors. Curveball doesn’t get used enough.

What the Numbers Say

2015 (Freshman): 14 G (all starts), 83.1 IP, 6-5, 2.48 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 76 K, 26 BB, 60 H, 2 HR allowed, .205 opp avg, 4 WP, 5 HBP, 8.21 K/9, 2.81 BB/9, 332 Batters faced, 22.9 K%, 7.8 BB%

Overall Assessment

Beck’s mechanics are loose, clean and he repeats them well, and throwing his fastball for strikes will allow him to set up his deceptive change-up. Beck’s poise on the mound suggest that he has the floor of a #4 starter and a realistic ceiling of a quality #2. If he ends up adding more velocity and incorporates his curveball more, he could exceed that ceiling and be a front of the rotation starter with three plus pitches. Having an injury to his back and not his arm is a positive for a team considering him for an arranged deal in the first round or an over-slot deal in the second round.

Author: Jeff Israel

1 comment

  1. allentown1

    Four very interesting pitchers and I’d love to get one, or even two, of them. Unfortunately for the Phillies, none of them is a lefty. Maybe we can get a prospect lefty starter in a trade of Hellickson or Kendrick — or even Ruf or Joseph.

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