An Early Look at the Left-Handed Pitchers in 2017 Draft by Eric Longenhagen August 22, 2016 The time has come for me to start spitting out scouting notes from the summer showcases I’ve been attending for the last several weeks. During that time I’ve seen a few hundred high-school players who are eligible for next year’s MLB draft. While a handful of prospects who did not participate in any of these events will inevitably pop up next spring, the lion’s share of next year’s high-profile prep draftees are already immortalized somewhere in my notes. I’ve sifted through them and will begin to churn out my thoughts on those I found most relevant or interesting, starting today with left-handed pitchers. Players in the primary section of this article are listed in my current order of preference while those in the “honorable mention” paragraphs below are in alphabetical order. Keep in mind (as I do during my own evaluations) that most of what I saw from these prospects came in abbreviated looks and in an atypical competitive environment. D.L. Hall, LHP, Houston County High School (GA) Height: 6’1, Weight: 180, Commitment: Florida State I think Hall is a lock for the first round if he stays healthy. Lefties who touch 95 mph with this kind of curveball feel are rare and I’m not scared off by Hall’s height. He sat 90-94 in each of my showcase looks and touched 95 (some guns had him at 96 in San Diego). Hall’s arm is quick and the ball jumps on hitters. His curveball has bent in anywhere between 76 and 80 mph for me with sharp, two-plane movement and precocious depth. I have a future 60 on it. He has shown the ability to locate it both on the outer edge of the strike zone and down in the dirt, albeit inconsistently. The changeup is well below average right now and Hall has shown variation in arm speed and arm slot when he’s attempted to throw it but he’s shown an ability to create movement and I’m comfortable projecting onto it heavily because of Hall’s arm speed and athleticism. So, too, am I willing to project at least average control and command despite Hall’s present propensity to fall hard off the mound toward third base. When he stays closed and drives toward home, he hits his spots — and I think he’ll do it consistently with reps. It’s hard to find a prep lefty with this kind of stuff who hasn’t gone on Day 1 in recent drafts. Only Juan Hillman fits the bill and he wasn’t throwing this hard. Jacob Heatherly, LHP, Cullman High School (AL) Height: 6’2, Weight: 210, Commitment: Alabama Though a bit physically mature, Heatherly is a sturdily built 6-foot-3 with a thick lower half and minimalist delivery. His velocity has been climbing all summer and he topped out at 95 on Sunday in San Diego while sitting 91-93 with sink. He has a four-pitch mix that includes a slider, curveball and changeup. He has feel for locating the low-70s curveball, which is average, while the upper-70s slider is frisbee-ish and below average but, again, there’s nascent feel there. Though none of his secondaries are presently awe-inspiring, strong-bodied lefties with heavy, plus fastballs don’t exactly grow on trees and I think Heatherly merits sandwich-round consideration right now. If any of his secondary pitches take a step forward next spring he could sneak into the back of the first round. Trevor Rogers, LHP, Carlsbad High School (NM) Height: 6’5, Weight: 190, Commitment: Texas Tech Rogers was sitting 93-plus and touching 95 or 96 (depending on the radar gun) during a let-it-rip inning of the Four Corners Area Code squad’s first game of the weekend. He pitched again later in the week and his velocity was down. So, too, was it at PG All American in San Diego on Sunday when Rogers was only sitting 90-92. Rogers has the wingspan of an Andean Condor and low arm slot which, combined with his velocity and decent feel for a breaking ball, give him a likely injury-independent LOOGY floor. His body is extremely projectable, perhaps the most projectable prep arm in this year’s entire class, and he’ll probably be throwing 96-plus consistently at maturity. Whether or not the secondary pitches and command come along will dictate Rogers’ role. He’ll flash an above-average curveball but it’s uncommon and changeups are rare. Additionally, Rogers struggles to repeat (not at all unusual for a teenager this size) and his control suffers. Teams are all over the body and velocity, and justifiably so, but a lot needs to come along here for Rogers to be a viable starting-pitching prospect. Prospects like this typically end up going in the 40-60 range of drafts, but of course if Rogers comes out next spring showing a consistently average or better curveball then he immediately becomes a likely first rounder. Mitchell Stone, LHP, Deer Creek High School (OK) Height: 6’10, Weight: 240, Commitment: Oklahoma State Lefties normally don’t come in a XXL but Stone is an absolute leviathan, which makes him interesting and relevant even if his present stuff is more pedestrian than it is exceptional. His fastball sits 87-90 with the kind of downhill plane that requires a runaway truck ramp every few miles. Stone’s back and torso are heavily involved in his delivery and there’s some effort to it, but I’m comfortable projecting him as a starter and think he’ll throw an acceptable number of strikes. I am a bit worried about how Stone’s back will hold up as he ages, perhaps because he shares some physical and mechanical traits with A.J. Puk, who had back issues this year, but I think Stone is a slightly better athlete than Puk and think injuries like that can be guarded against with good conditioning. At 240 pounds, Stone isn’t especially projectable in the traditional “tall and skinny” sense, but his body composition is immature and I think there might be more velocity in there as he tightens things up and gets stronger. His sweeping 71-78 mph curveball shows good shape and depth and was more reliably average as my viewings over the past several weeks went along. He has some changeup feel and, while his arm acceleration isn’t special, I don’t think projecting an average change is irresponsible. An average three-pitch mix, average control and an outlier frame probably place Stone in the third- to fourth-round range. Jake Eder, LHP, Atlantic High School (FL) Height: 6’4, Weight: 215, Commitment: Vanderbilt Eder struggled to throw strikes during Area Codes, kicking off a Saturday full of nightmarish control problems for just about everyone that stepped on the mound. Eder has a prototypical starter’s build at a sturdy 6-foot-4 and the frame to add more weight as he ages. His delivery can be unkempt: he cuts his front foot off toward the first-base side, creating an indirect line to the plate and his arm often comes through late, both elements which I think impact his strike-throwing ability. He has 30 control right now, which isn’t unusual for a high-school pitcher, it’s just not what I anticipated from what was one of the more high-profile arms entering the summer. Eder’s fastball sits 89-92. He has some drop and drive to him which suppresses plane and it doesn’t move very much, but because of Eder’s arm slot and the cross-body nature of his delivery, the ball comes in at a unique angle. It’s especially tough on left-handed hitters and even the most talented of those (such as Garrett Mitchell) were struggling to pick up the ball out of Eder’s hand. Eder has some feel for a slurvy, mid-70s breaking ball that will flash average and, again, plays up against lefties. By next spring I think we need to see some progression either in Eder’s stuff, his ability to throw strikes, or both, to say with any sort of comfort that his stock will be high enough for a team to whisk him away from Vanderbilt. Logan Allen, LHP, University High School (FL) Height: 6′, Weight: 170, Commitment: Florida International Allen is small but athletic, loose and throws plenty of strikes. He was 90-92 at PG All American with precocious command to both sides of the plate. He has been up to 94 in the past. While the breaking ball was just a 45 and the changeup a clear 4 for me at the game in San Diego, I believe enough in the athleticism and delivery to project a full grade onto each. Even if Allen is 88-92 in pro ball, with those secondaries and plus command (which is in the realm of possibility as far as I’m concerned) he’s still a back end, #4/5 type of starter. The upside here is limited because of Allen’s size (as in, it’s more likely that one of the more projectable bodies on this list wake up one day throwing 3 or 4 mph harder than they do today) and he’ll always be fighting an uphill battle because of that, but I like him. Other Southpaws of note: Seth Corry, LHP, Lone Peak HS (UT) (Video) – Corry is athletic and a well-built 6-foot-2, 195 and sits 89-92 with some natural cut. He had a nightmare inning at Area Codes, but he throws pretty hard and he broke off a curveball that crested the 3000-rpm mark based on FlightScope’s real-time tracking. I think the arm action is a little stiff and I’m not sure there’s ever going to be a changeup here, but the velocity and curveball feel are intriguing — as is the body, even if it isn’t all that projectable. Hugh Fisher, LHP, Briarcrest Christian (TN) (Video)– Fisher hails from the same high school that gave the sports world Michael Oher (thanks) and Greg Hardy (no thanks). He is yet another projectable left hander at 6-foot-5, 185. He’ll sit 86-90 with a long, low arm action that allows right-handed hitters to pick up the ball early. He’ll flash an average breaking ball but does exhibit some arm deceleration and doesn’t get on top of the ball consistently because of his arm slot. MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Whiteville HS (NC) (Video) – Gore stands out because of his glorious leg kick, but the stuff is interesting as well. He was a deceptive 88-92 in San Diego, flashed a plus changeup and 45 curveball. He has an extreme drop-and-drive delivery — and I’m skeptical about his ability to harness it and have even average control down the road — but it’s unique and requires more evaluation rather than knee-jerk xenophobia. John Kodros, LHP, Coppell HS (TX) (Video) – Low-slot and only 83-85 but already has a sweeping, above-average, mid-70s slider that he can locate and the changeup flashes average as well. I think there’s more velo coming (Kodros is listed at 6-foot-4, 165), but the delivery is very reliever-ish. Asa Lacy, LHP, Tivy High School (TX) (Video) – Projectable body, 85-89 with feel for a low-70s curveball. Delivery is a bit stiff and deliberate but the frame and depth on the curveball are interesting. Ryan Weathers, LHP, Loretto HS (TN) (Video)– Son of former major-leaguer Dave Weathers, Ryan commands a low-90s fastball to both sides of the plate as well as a fringe-average curveball in the 72-75 mph range. He’s a thick 6-foot-1.