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2015 Phillies draft preview: Walker Buehler, RHP

One of the seemingly endless list of players the Phillies are projected to take with the 10th pick.

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Walker Buehler is a 6'1" 165 lb Right Handed Pitcher from Vanderbilt University. No, you don't have deja vu, my last profile was very similar in many ways. And it's going to stay similar in many ways. Walker, like Fulmer, has a Fastball he routinely throws 92-94 and can get it up to 96 when needed with good late movement. He has a Plus Curveball that he can drop in for strikes or bury in the dirt. He also has an inconsistent Changeup with fringe Plus potential. He's a high effort Pitcher and his slight build and delivery could eventually force him into a relief role, where his stuff could make him a high leverage Pitcher.

Here's where I'll throw the first curveball that separates the two pitchers: Buehler started the season late due to elbow soreness.

Now to look at Walker's delivery. In the video below, with those, uhm, interesting Vandy unis, we can see Buehler's rather violent mechanics. He doesn't work with the cartoon speed of Fulmer, but he has some similar mechanical flaws. First, he's very upright and all of that mid-90's heat is ultimately generated by his upper body, putting a lot of stress on his elbow and shoulder. Second, he sometimes brakes his arm at the end of his motion causing additional stress (not consistent though, he's mostly clean in this area, but there are a few clips where you can see it). He also gets a bit of a head whip at the end. What I like is that he doesn't seem to straighten and lock his landing leg at all. Also his landing foot points toward Home. Both point towards better control profiles for a Pitcher, which Walker has. He has stuff to rack up K's and is unlikely to rack up similar Walk numbers to what Fulmer could struggle with.

Of Buehler's pitches his Curveball may be his best. It has good late break and he's struck out a few pretty good College hitters on balls that rolled toward the backstop this season. He routinely drops it at the knees and can generate a lot of weak contact when he doesn't get swings and misses. I'd rate it a step above Fulmer's due to better control.

As mentioned above his Fastball sits in above average range and should end up a Plus pitch. He can locate the pitch pretty reliably and has gone as high as 96 on radar guns this Spring. If he fills out as a pro he could still add a few ticks of speed. There's some projection here, but this is already a Pitch that could work in a MLB 'pen, mitigating some of the risk there.

His Changeup is his weakest pitch, but even that projects to be above-average and maybe even fringe Plus. Like Fulmer he has an issue with slowing his arm when he's trying to locate the pitch, which is a bad idea against professional hitters.

I think Buehler has a better chance to remain a Starter than Fulmer, but his ceiling is probably more #2 Starter or fringe #1. His biggest risk is obviously injury given his issue this Spring, which was rumored to be precautionary (as was Mike Matuella's at first). His build reminds me a bit of Aaron Nola and he might fit the new Draft strategy if that's what 2014 was. Honestly, as shallow as this draft is, rolling the dice on an injury red flag in the hopes of getting  someone who may be able to work in the middle of a rotation is not a bad option. Especially considering how dominating Buehler has looked in the past and how his performance this Spring has made the early season rest less of a concern.