Shane Baz is a High School RHP from Texas. He stands 6’3" and 210 lbs and is committed to TCU. He is also draftable as a power hitting Third Baseman, but his future is on the mound (though with High School picks, it’s always nice to know there’s a possible Plan B). I’m not entirely convinced there’s a (realistic) riskier pick at 8 overall, but I try to profile every player I see mock drafted to the Phillies and Jim Callis mocked the Wizard of Baz to the Phillies in his last mock. So, here we go.
First off the pitch mix, and grab a drink and a snack because there’s a lot to discuss here. The headliner for Baz is a 4-seam Fastball that he throws 90-93, but can crank up to as high as a reported 98 this Spring. It’s somewhat straight vertically, but it’s the kind without much drop in it’s path, so hitters swing under it more often. He also throws a cutter with the same grip, but alters the release to create the spin. He tends to throw that in the 87-90 mph range, but he also sometimes takes several mph off, turning it into a fairly traditional Slider. His third (or fourth, depending upon whether you view the Slider as a separate pitch) best pitch is probably his Curve. It’s a below average pitch, but with potential to become Average. The same is true of his Change-up, but most High Schoolers have shoddy change-ups. It has average potential.
Everything Baz throws has lots of movement. If you’re failiar with the concept of a strike zone, you likely have already thought something similar to my next sentence. Baz has some issues with Control. His Fastball and Cutter he can throw somewhat reliably for Strikes, but when he starts mixing all of his pitches, things can go a bit off the rails. Control/Command issues scare me quite a bit, but I’ll admit that finding a High Schooler with a 5 pitch arsenal where 3 of the Pitches could grade out Above Average or better is pretty tempting. There’s a definite gamble that you could be drafting Philippe Aumont part deux, but you could also end up with a legit #2 Starter or better if he irons that control out.
He’s a bit of a high effort delivery, as can be seen in this Fangraphs video where he throws himself out of his hat, but his mechanics look fairly solid to my eyes otherwise. In a pro program the first thing he’ll need to do is get on a training program to start doing more squats, as he doesn’t seem to generate much push from his lower half.
Here’s a video from Jesse Burkhart where that wildness is on display. Including a Curve that doesn’t, thanks to poor foot placement and a slightly to soon release. The release is a bit all over the place at points in this video and his foot too often ends up pointed to the Right handed batter’s box. Baz should be athletic enough and short enough to iron the release point out and the foot placement should be a pretty quick fix for a pro coach.
On problem I have with all of this, is not a single person has posted a side view of Baz and that is the most important shot for viewing mechanics of a Pitcher. From head on, I can see pitch movement and foot place and whether he throws across his body. However it’s tough to determine stride length, Inverted W, rotation and timing without a view from the 3rd base side.
All of the issues with Baz are potentially correctable and he could probably be a good Bullpen piece with his Fastball/Slider/Cutter mix. If he adds leg strength and cleans up the delivery, I think he could end up sitting 93-95 and topping out at 98 more regularly with better control. His stuff is likely too lively to ever get Ace command out of, but he could be a pretty filthy #2 Starter who racks up big K numbers and frustratingly high BB numbers. The biggest issue may well be the TCU commitment, which he sounds pretty set on. First Round money can change a lot of minds, but Baz could also be the type of kid who could go to College for 3 years and suddenly be a beast in the running for #1 overall. He’s mentioned current Horned Frog Luken Baker as a template for what he might do and Baker was a possible First Rounder a few years back as well.