Thursday, June 5, 2014

2014 MLB Draft, Players of Interest: Joe Gatto and Jack Flaherty

Joe Gatto
St. Augustine Prep High School, NJ
HT: 6-5 WT: 215
Position: RHP
B/T: R/R

I looked at a lot of the pitchers in the top 100 prospects likely to be available when the Reds picks roll around and Gatto seemed like the most electric.

His fastball is heavy, getting on hitters quickly from a largely over-the-top type arm slot, with velocity (90-93 mph and touching 95), downward plane, deception, and very good movement (sinking and tailing). Fastball effectiveness is a function of velocity, movement, downward plane, and command; Gatto already ticks three of those boxes. In addition to the heavy fastball, Gatto really spins a 12-to-6 curveball with good bite and depth. The curveball is inconsistent and needs to be better located, but it definitely flashes plus potential.  

In addition to very good stuff, Gatto also has impressive mechanics and a clean arm action. He does a nice job of incorporating his lower half into the delivery through a high leg kick, an aggressive stride, strong hip rotation, and delayed shoulder rotation. His arm action is also clean, maintaining good position relative to the shoulder and getting good extension out in front on release.

Here's a look at Gatto in action, courtesy of Big League Futures on YouTube:

Overall, Gatto is an exciting pitching prospect, one who flashes a dominating fastball that doesn't depend solely on velocity for its effectiveness. And, of course, he's likely to add velocity as he continues to fill out his frame.

The big question on Gatto is the command and whether he'll be able to locate his pitches where he wants. As of now, his command/control is a bit rough, but if he continues to develop the command, then he could be a top of the rotation arm. He's become one of my favorite arms in the draft class.

Jack Flaherty
Harvard Westlake High School, CA
HT: 6-3 WT: 190
Position: RHP
B/T: R/R

Jack Flaherty is a two-way player with a commitment to the University of North Carolina. He pitches, he plays third base. As of now, scouts prefer him as a starting pitcher.

He features a four-pitch mix, including a fastball that sits 88-92, a changeup with plus potential, a 78-80 mph slider with swing-and-miss potential, and a "get me over" curveball. He has a good feel for pitching and for each of his pitches. His command and control are above average for his age and experience level.

Flaherty is a name with a lot of buzz surrounding it heading into the draft, as a number of teams believe he has a good deal of projection to his game and a high likelihood of reaching it. It remains to be seen whether teams are willing to burn a first round pick on him, but a lot of teams are hoping he slips into round two.

As for pitching mechanics, Flaherty's are clean and functional. He throws the fastball from a three-quarter arm slot, but that arm slot occasionally gets higher when he throws his breaking pitches. That inconsistency will need to be ironed to avoid tipping off more advanced hitters. His arm action is clean, but he does throw with a bit of effort.

He incorporates his lower body into the delivery, but there is room for improved efficiency. And, his stride foot lands in a slightly closed off position, which results in him throwing slightly across his body and falling off to the first base side.

Overall, Flaherty has a solid foundation on which to develop a pitcher. His repertoire is solid with room for real improvement and his mechanics are clean and functional. It's not surprising that a lot of teams want a crack at drafting and developing him.

Here's Flaherty on the bump, courtesy of MaxPreps High School Sports on YouTube:

Flaherty has to be on the Reds short list, if not with their first pick, then with their second pick. There's a lot of projection to his game and seems like a reasonable chance that he attains some of it.

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