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2014 Draft Preview Ten: More High School Pitching, Part One.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Morning, all. I'm in a terrible hurry to try and get this up on time; thus, it will be a short version of a usual RB post.

First, a couple things before we get to today's batch of scouting reports:

  • I'm not happy with the decision to go with Joe Kelly instead of Carlos Martinez in the rotation. I've gone back and forth on the issue; I was initially flat-out pissed off about it, then thought it through and sort of made my peace, and now, having continued to turn the matter over in my brain, I'm back to being disappointed and mildly upset about it. I understand why the team went the way they did, and I think there are defensible reasons for having Kelly in the rotation rather than Carlos; however, I have a creeping fear the actual reasons it's happening this way aren't any of those defensible reasons. I just can't quite make up my mind how negatively I view the whole thing.
  • Upon watching Aledmys Diaz play for the first time in live game action, two words came to mind: fast hands. I was impressed, honestly, by how quick his hands appear to be at the plate. Fielding, eh. I'm in no position to even pretend I could glean anything from, what, three or four opportunities? So I won't blow smoke up the collective ass of our readers and claim I know anything about his glove. But even in just a couple plate appearances, I liked what I saw from him. I'm much more optimistic now than I was at the time of his signing, honestly.
  • Derrick Goold was on Will Leitch's podcast on Monday; it's required listening if you want to stay a member of this site. You don't listen, I ban you. Instantly. The Baron has spoken. Okay, so that's probably a hollow threat. Anyway, you should still go download the thing. A message to Goold from me: I am, in fact, one of those people you were talking bad about on the pod, DG, who think Lance Lynn should be in the bullpen. Not because of bad body language or anything, though, and I fully understand the value of innings. I still prefer him as a late-inning reliever. So there.
Anyhow, what I have for you today is a group of scouting reports featuring three more pitching prospects, all of the high school variety, all right-handed, and all pretty exciting in at least one way or another. Honestly, I feel like there is such ridiculous depth in the high school pitching ranks for this draft I could do half a dozen of these posts featuring just that one demographic. It's really remarkable, and more than a little crazy. I'm thinking I'll probably do a part two to this post almost immediately, maybe next week, just so I can keep this group together in my mind. Or maybe not. I'm not sure. Anyway, I said I was running late and in a hurry, so I should probably act like it, no? On to the reports!

Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Sandalwood High School (Florida)

6'2", 210 lbs

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

So, what's so great about this guy?

Sean Reid-Foley is not my favourite prospect in this year's draft. In fact, he's not even in my personal top ten. That being said, he does feature a dynamite one-two punch of plus pitches the likes of which very few other pitchers in this draft are capable of matching.

Those two pitches I think are so good? A sinking, running, cutting, just flat-out moving fastball in the low 90s and a slider that is just crazy good for a pitcher coming from the high school ranks. Nothing Reid-Foley throws is anywhere close to straight; he's one of those blessed individuals who seems to possess an innate ability to make a ball move. His fastball is especially effective when he's throwing it down in the zone; he can saw off righthanded hitters with the best of them.

What I don't like about Sean Reid-Foley is, primarily, his delivery. He's very much a high back elbow guy, and his mechanics in general remind me a lot of Jensen Lewis, the former Cleveland Indians reliever who had a very short run of being a very good setup man a few years ago. And that, honestly, is what worries me about Reid-Foley; he has what I consider risky mechanics (though he's not quite so pronounced a W guy as Lewis was), and a tendency to throw a lot of sliders. I worry he'll have a very short career, particularly if he remains a starting pitcher in pro ball.

He does throw a curveball and changeup as well, though neither one is even close to the level of his slider in quality. He's a Florida State commit, which is, generally speaking, a pretty strong draw for a kid, so he could easily end up in college. I'm very torn on him; there's more than enough talent here to try and develop him as a starter, but at the same time, I honestly feel like if a team fast-tracked him as a reliever, he could be in the big leagues by the time he's old enough to drink. His top two pitches are that advanced, I think.

Michael Kopech, RHP, Mt. Pleasant High School (Texas)

6'4", 190 lbs

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

So, what's so great about this guy?

I've just made a decision on the fly, folks: I'm going to do a theme today. Okay, sure, technically I always do a theme with these draft posts; they're always arranged according to some kind of demographical grouping of players. But today I'm going a bit more specific than usual, and actually switched around a couple players in order to achieve this very specific grouping. Today's theme is now high-school righthanded pitchers who I feel are best suited for relief work in pro ball.

Sean Reid-Foley has one of the most dynamic sliders in the draft this year; Michael Kopech has a curveball that is nearly as good. It isn't nearly as polished an offering; Kopech's command of all his pitches comes and goes pretty regularly, which is probably to be expected considering his height, youth, and a very complicated delivery which lends extra deception to everything he throws but can also get out of whack quite easily.

Kopech is tall and wiry, exactly the sort of frame teams love to see in a young pitcher; the word 'projectable' is overused, I think, but it probably applies here. He has plenty of room to fill out and add probably 30 pounds on his frame, which would, hopefully, bring with it added strength and stamina, if not necessarily increased velocity. His fastball already has reached 95, but he usually works lower than that, sitting around 90-91 when he isn't selling out for velocity in a showcase setting. His bread and butter pitch, though, is a nasty curveball with tight, true 12-to-6 break that he can throw with unusual power when he's right. Where Touki Toussaint, possessor of a remarkable curveball himself, has the big, soft Adam Wainwright breaker, Kopech's is harder and tighter, more in the Francisco Rodriguez mold. I don't make that comparison lightly, either; the pitch really does have that kind of potential.

Kopech has little to speak of in the way of a third pitch, which isn't particularly surprising for a high school pitcher in general, much less one with such a dominant offering as his breaking ball. His delivery is funky and complex, as he turns almost completely away from the hitter with a huge leg kick and an arm action I'm not at all a fan of. However, the combination of solid present velocity, the potential for a bit more juice on the fastball as he grows, a breaking ball that is already a plus pitch when he can command it, and tremendous deception makes me think he could easily end up a closer-level reliever down the road a few years.

Keaton McKinney, RHP, Ankeny High School (Iowa)

6'5", 220 lbs

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

So, what's so great about this guy?

Keaton McKinney is actually one of the better two-way prospects in the draft this year, and I'm thinking perhaps I actually should have moved him to a post specifically devoted to that demographic along with a player I absolutely love in this year's draft, Alex Verdugo. Alas, I'm now committed to doing things this way, and so I'll content myself with saying that if Keaton McKinney goes to college, he'll pitch and play first base. If he goes pro, though, he'll move to the mound.

McKinney completes the triumvirate of out pitches I'm featuring here today; we've had a crazy slider and a potentially dominating curveball already, which, spoiler alert, means Keaton McKinney probably has a very good changeup.

And, surprise! Keaton McKinney does, in fact, have a very good changeup, a 78-83 mph offering that simply disappears as it approaches the plate, leaving hitters of both handedness to helplessly swing over the top of it. He maintains his arm speed on the pitch exceptionally well also, making it a remarkably deceptive pitch in addition to the excellent movement. His fastball is fast enough, sitting at 90-91, with a little more on the top end at times, and he generally locates the pitch for strikes. He throws a passable curveball as well, but it's well behind his other two pitches at this point.

His arm slot is higher than the guy I'm about to compare him to, but watching McKinney go about his business, the pitcher I tend to think of is Aaron Heilman. Similar arm action, similar stuff, similar big frames, similarly devastating changeups. Unfortunately, I also think those similar arm actions could lead to similar durability concerns down the road for McKinney and a similar move to a bullpen role. That's the role I think he's best suited for anyway, though, so perhaps I shouldn't say unfortunately.

McKinney isn't quite as highly touted as the other two pitchers here today, at least in my mind; I think he's more of a late second or early third round pick, whereas both of the other two I think could go as early as the supplemental first round. If he's there in the third or thereabouts when the Cardinals go on the board, I think he could represent a really solid value. Long term, I think his ability to neutralize lefties could make him an excellent late-inning reliever, though my concerns over his arm action keep me from projecting him as a starter over the long haul.

Gotta run, folks. Take care, and I'll talk to you again soon.