Editor’s Note: A.E. Schafer aka the red baron has once again compiled a rather impressive list of Cardinals prospects doing a write-up on 40 individual prospects. As a convenience to our readers, he releases the list in a couple big chunks so everyone can read about all of the prospects at once. While that is a convenience to all of us who eagerly await the arrival of prospect lists, it might not be as convenient if you are looking for a player’s particular scouting report. So, as a further convenience, we are putting the individual scouting reports in separate posts to make individual players easier to find. You can find the full lists on our 2018 prospect page here. —CE
#2: Jack Flaherty, RHP
6’4”, 205 lbs; Bats/Throws: Right/Right
DOB: 15 October 1995; Drafted Rd 1 Supp 2014
Level(s) in 2017: Springfield (Double A), Memphis (Triple A), St. Louis
Notable Numbers: 25.6% K (Spr), 25.1% K (Mem), 21.3% K (StL), 4.6% BB (Spr), 7.1% BB (Mem), 10.6% BB (StL)
So, what’s so great about this guy?
As I said at the beginning of this column, there’s a certain irony in the fact that, the higher we move on this list, the less there really is to say about the players despite them being the best and most important assets the organisation possesses. For instance, what am I going to tell you about Jack Flaherty that you don’t already know? We all saw him on a St. Louis mound near the end of the season. He wasn’t ready. He was 21 years old and not ready. Close to being ready, but not quite there yet.
This time last year, I was pushing Flaherty into the top five on my list, and railing against the fact so many others had decided to bump him way down based on what I personally saw as really dumb criteria. This year, if you see a Cardinal prospect list and Jack Flaherty is not in the top three, the person writing that list is not to be trusted. (he said, hoping neither of his fellow prospect writers happened to be mysteriously disdainful of the young righthander and thus worthy of distrust and scorn...) His 2017 season was a bit of a coming-out party, a season in which the various components of his game came together and he really showed what kind of upside he has.
And that upside is substantial, even if it’s not ace level. Flaherty commands a four pitch arsenal, in which every pitch is somewhere between a 50 and 55 grade. The fastball is firm, sitting 92-93, but not overpowering. He mostly puts it where he wants it, and I’d grade it a 55. The curveball has its moments, and it definitely took a step forward in 2017, but it’s not, say, Alex Reyes’s or Adam Wainwright’s curve. It’s probably a 50, with a chance for a little more. The changeup is a solid 55, as Flaherty sells it and commands it, getting outs more on location and deception than crazy movement. The slider is Flaherty’s best pitch, and the one that is probably closest to a true plus, a 60 grade pitch. In fact, probably half the time I see him I would grade it a 60; the other half of the time he babies it in for strikes and tends to miss in the zone, rather than out. Still, it’s his best offering, and a legitimate out pitch when he throws it with conviction.
Nothing in Flaherty’s profile really screams out future ace; he just doesn’t have any stuff that’s quite that overpowering. But he’s brimming with useful weapons and mound smarts, as well as solid command of all his offerings. There’s a chance he’s able to ascend beyond mid-rotation starter through depth and breadth of stuff, rather than pure quality, but most likely the ceiling remains something like a number three starter. A good one, I happen to think.
If he’s good, it will look like: I think I went with James Shields last year, and I’m sticking with that. Flaherty has a similar package of multiple solid-average offerings, even if none of them are off the charts good, and an aggressive, fearless mentality in deploying those various and sundry weapons.