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Future Redbirds Top 25 Prospect for 2015: #8 - Jack Flaherty

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Great name, a bunch of above average stuff that might all be plus at some point, and a good athlete to boot.

Jack Flaherty
Jack Flaherty
maxpreps.com

Acquired: 2014 Draft (1st Round, Supplemental; #34 overall), Harvard-Westlake HS, California

Birthday: 10/15/1995

Age: 19

Minor League Stops in 2014: Gulf Coast League Cardinals (R)

2014 Totals:

IP

ERA

FIP

K%

BB%

GB%

OFB%

HR/OFB%

22.2 1.59 2.10 30.1% 4.3% 48.3% 25.9% 6.7%


F-R Grades:

(You can find the 20/80 grading primer here)

Fastball Changeup Curveball Slider Command Pitchability
50/60 55/65 45/50 55/60 50 45/60

2014 was the second year in a row that the Cardinals drafted a high school arm in the top 50 picks, something that the organization had not done a lot of in the years prior, with Shelby Miller being the notable exception. I think part of that is to offset the risk factor from high school age kid players the organization began to bring in more frequently from Latin America starting around 2008 and 2009, but a good chunk of it is just risk profile in general: Most high school players, and especially pitchers, require a much longer and more costly development cycle than players coming out of college.

With Rob Kaminsky in 2013 and Jack Flaherty in 2014, however, that Cardinals have found a way to middle their strategy: Find the high school pitchers who are less raw and showing good polish and flashing plus pitches that can move quickly through the organization and get into full season ball within the first year or two in the minors. Kaminsky (who will appear later on this list) threw 22 innings out of high school in 2013, stayed in extended spring training in 2014, and then threw 100 innings with Low-A Peoria in his sophomore season in the minors.

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I think that the organization is likely to take the same approach as Flaherty.

Originally scouted as a third baseman (in which he was considered top 150 talent due to an elegantly simple swing) Flaherty didn't really show promise as a pitcher until the spring of 2014, immediately flashing three pitches that showed plus at times and utilizing his four pitch mix by hitting every quadrant of the plate consistently with his fastball and changeup.

It's almost as if Jack Flaherty decided to become a top 100 pitching prospect at the end of his junior year of high school...and then happened to do just that.

While the overall profile is similar to Kaminsky, Flaherty's frame and mechanics are decidedly more mainstream for a pitching prospect: Listed at 6'4", 205 with a little room to grow and and athletic delivery that I think is more than capable of adding a tick or two of velocity to the fastball (he already hits 94 mph consistently) as he gets a bit stronger in his lower half, Jack Flaherty's build resembles that of Jack Morris, one of the most durable starting pitchers the game has seen in the last 40 years.

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2015 Outlook:

Considering how dominant he was in his 22 innings and how polished his offerings are already, I would expect his path to follow Rob Kaminsky's from last year: Extended Spring Training, then a debut in Peoria sometime in May in an attempt to get him to 100 innings or so in a full season league.

Holy crap that Peoria club is going to be fun to watch this summer.  I feel like someone should make some "Rowan & Jack" (sounds like a good dive bar drink doesn't it?) T-shirts made up for the team store.

Overall Grade: B