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2013 Phillies Draft Preview - Rob Kaminsky, LHP

Another High Schooler who ticks a whole lot of boxes on the profile of what the Phillies usually pick.

Rob Kaminsky is a 6'0" 190 LHP with a mid 90's Fastball, a pretty advanced, for a HS Pitcher, Changeup and a Major League ready Curve. So, if we're ticking off the Phillies draft Preferences bingo card here, put a chip on High School Pitcher, put a chip on Left Handed, place a chip on local product (St. Joseph's Regional HS in Englewood Cliffs, NJ) and place a chip on Athletic (he's also his team's starting Center Fielder on off days). Of course if we do that we also need to look at what they often avoid in top draft picks and that would typically be short, high effort pitchers.

So before we get into what to like about Kaminsky we'll deal with the non-pitching red flag of his strong commitment to UNC for College ball. If I had to guess, being a mid first round pick as a High School Pitcher alone is likely enough to break that commitment, but it may require being on the high end of slot or even just above and therefore going bargain bin later to avoid slot penalties in 2014. If, from discussions, there is any sense that he'll require top 10 money or anything similar it may make him more difficult to draft. Kaminsky has stated himself that while he loved North Carolina, he hasn't made any decision about his future and could go pro or on to College.

On the baseball side of things, there is one big issue with Kaminsky that may turn teams off. When you draft a high schooler, for example, we'll use Jesse Biddle, you project. Jesse Biddle was a big, thin kid when he was drafted and already threw in the upper 80's. However, he had a lot of filling out to do so you could project that maybe he can add a few MPH and end up throwing low to mid 90's with good sink. There is pretty much none of that with Kaminsky. He works ~89-91 with his FB and touches 93-94. That's it. It's not likely to get any faster. Because he's short it won't have that heavy downward slope that a 6'5" guy like Biddle can generate. It's entirely possible that Kaminsky is the next Adam Morgan. Is a guy who maxes out as a #2/3 Starter worth the #16 pick? Recent Mock Drafts have him going late First Round (most commonly to the Yankees, since he pitches in their shadow and would be a popular pick with fans who have quite possibly already heard of the kid in Jersey with 5 No-hitters and 18 K/9 strikeout rate) to all the way in early to mid-second round. That suggests that if the Phillies are really into the kid, they may be able to simply wait a round and still stand a chance at picking him (same may be true of Justin Williams who I profiled earlier in the series).

Well, let's look at the kid and see what all of the fuss is about. First up is a video from Baseball America. I'm not an expert on pitching mechanics, but I do know that a lot of shorter pitchers appear to be giving full effort every pitch to generate velocity. If this kid throws mid-90's you wouldn't know it from this video. That's a pretty relaxed, loose looking delivery. No dreaded "inverted W", no arm breaking (when a pitcher slows his arm after release). No locking out his front knee. All of those are commonly listed as potential red flags by the various people who write about pitching mechanics. Also, it sounds like there's a pirate in the stands during the game.

Next up is a video from Baseball Banter. I can see more in this video that it appears his plent foot lands slightly to the first base side, causing him to throw across his body. That is sometimes pointed to as an injury concern and can affect accuracy. Kaminsky though is widely lauded for his accuracy, ability to adjust pitch sped and work both sides of the plate. So, if this affects accuracy, Kaminsky seems to have found a way to work past it.

Here's a video literally taken down the street from where I lived up until a few years ago (It's also where UNC used to play it's Home games). This one's from the USA Baseball Prospect Classic. This is game film, so you get to enjoy watching him pitch to live hitters and field his position. Video is from Diamond Scape Baseball. In this video, which is nearly a year old, his foot not only lands to first base side it's pointing to the first base side as well.

Of some interest, he's apparently also ambidexterous and can throw well right handed too, but without much control, so little league coaches basically said, well, if you can throw Lefty, let's make you a Lefty then. In this case I think it's the public reading Ruben's MO and just shoving a local pitcher in there. I wouldn't be shocked if the Phillies took him, but I think it's far from a foregone conclusion, as we have several mid-rotation possible prospects already.

As I always try to do, here is his Perfect Game profile page for more videos and whatnot.