Monday, June 8, 2009

2009 Draft: High School Arms

The 2009 draft is one that is heavy in high school arms, which are always high risk, high reward type prospects.

Here's a look at some of the best, starting with a couple of impressive southpaws.

Tyler Matzek -- lhp

Matzek is one of the absolute best arms in the draft. He pitches for Capistrano Valley High School in California. He stands 6-3 and tips the scales at 185 lbs.

Matzek have a live arm and brings a fastball that touches the mid-90s, a solid 75 mph curve, a slider/cut fastball, and a developing change-up. He controls his repertoire well and can dominate when he's on. He's a pitcher, not a thrower, as he has an advanced feel for a high school pitcher.

Matzek has very strong mechanics, which should reduce his injury risk and help his consistency. He has a free and easy delivery and doesn't have to throw at max effort to be successful. At times, Matzek has been susceptible to cruising

Matzek has just about everything you'd want in a pitching prospect and he'd have to be near the top of my list of prospect for the Reds in the first round.

Matthew Purke -- lhp

Purke is in the mix for the title of top lefty in the draft, as he features low 90s fastball that touches 95 mph, a slurve that sits in the 78-80 mph range and breaks late, and a plus change-up. He also has the frame that scouts love to see, as he stands 6-3 and weighs 180, which gives him room to fill out physically and makes him projectible.

Here's a look at him in action:

Purke may slide down the draft board because of signability concerns. Rumor has it that his bonus demands are exorbitant. In addition, I don't think his mechanics are as impressive as those of Matzek. He doesn't incorporate his body as well in his delivery as Matzek and seems to generate his velocity with his arm, which would increase the stress on his arm.

Overall, Purke is an impressive prospect, but his mechanics and signability concerns drop him behind other pitching prospects on my list.

Jacob Turner -- rhp

Turner is an intriguing arm, but one that doesn't quite stack up with a few of the other arms in the draft. That said, he has the kind of upside that could make him the best pitching prospect in the draft.

Turner has the frame and loose delivery that may allow him to maintain consistent velocity with his fastball. He can run it up into the upper 90s at times, but hasn't been able to sustain that type of velocity over any appreciable amount of time. His athleticism should allow him to refine his delivery and improve his control.

Here is a look at Turner:

Turner has good upside, but his bonus demands may result in him sliding a bit. Still, his upside may make him an early pick.

Zack Wheeler -- rhp

Reports are that Wheeler is coveted by the Atlanta Braves, so he probably won't be around when the Reds draft. Wheeler has a strong arm and can reach 95 mph with his fastball. He throws from a three-quarter arm slot which generates good movement on his pitches. He also has a plus curve and a show-me change-up that needs a lot of work. His command isn't great and he'll need to refine his mechanics to improve his consistency.

He has some looseness and inconsistency in his delivery, so he'll need to tighten his mechanics up as he climbs the ladder of the professional ranks.

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