About 6 months ago, before the start of College and High School seasons, it looked like 10 or more of the top 15 picks would possibly be College Pitchers in this draft and I was having a hard time finding position players and High Schoolers to bother profiling. Then some funny things happened. A few guys lived up to their billings, a few guys scuffled a little bit, but look like they’ll stay First Rounders and a few guys might have struggled themselves into the Second Round (One guy got kicked out of school and probably knocked himself entirely out of the draft for some teams). My goal here is to profile a few of the College arms who might have played themselves into potential Second Round bargains (a few of these guys may still well be First Round picks).
Tristan Beck, RHP, 6’4" 190 lbs, Stanford University
First of a caveat on this one. Beck did not play himself out of the First Round, he simply did not play. Beck had an x-ray this spring which revealed a stress fracture in his back and that has kept him on the shelf all season. When he’s off the shelf, he has 4 potential Above-Average to Plus pitches. A Fastball that sits 90-93 and has touched 95, a 12-6 Curve with good swing and miss potential, a Slider and a Change-up. Unlike most College prospects, Beck still has quite a bit of projection left as he’s only a Sophomore. Of course, that also means that if he slips to the 45th pick, he may just decide to go back to Stanford and pitch a full season and get himself back into the First Round. He’s got the talent to do it and his Brother will be a Freshman next year at Stanford, so it’s pretty reasonable, to me, that he may take that gamble Relative as it is, he’s reportedly a very smart kid, whose fallback if that gamble fails is to graduate with a degree from a very prestigious school. We should all have the fortune to take such risks).
Alex Lange, RHP, 6’3", 201 lbs. LSU
Lange is a K machine with a nearly 11/9 inning rate. To his advantage he’s gotten his BB rate down this year (though, it’s still higher than ideal at ~3/9 innings). Lange has 3 potential Plus pitches. A Fastball that he throws 92-96, a slurvy curveball (more effective than that sounds as it’s closer to a Cutter than either a Slider or Curve) and a Change-up which has regressed a bit in College. Lange’s biggest issue is his mechanical inconsistency. He rushes his delivery and loses location. With his current issues he’d top out as a sometimes frustrating #3 Starter, but if he can get the kinks worked out enough for Average control, he could end up a #2 Starter. One of the most likely outcomes is that the Changeup never returns and his high effort delivery never improves his control and he ends up in the Bullpen.
Hans Crouse, RHP, 6’5", 185 lbs. Dana Hills High School (CA)
Crouse is not a College guy who dropped, but a High Schooler who dropped a little (though some of that is just other players leapfrogging him, as opposed to him performing poorly). I’ve included Crouse for 2 reasons. First, he’s really fun to watch. The guy wears his emotions on his sleeve and he’s insanely demonstrative on the mound. He gets mighty excited about every K. Second, he’s from an area the Phillies have drafted from frequently, so I expect they have gotten eyes on him and might view him as a possibility. I have no idea what to make of Crouse. He can spin a Breaking Ball well and his Fastball is electric (reportedly even as high as 99). His mechanics are insane and all over the place (including scouts noting one pitch in a showcase thrown sidearm - who does that?). It’s not that his mechanics are inconsistent, it’s that he appears to consciously change his mechanics. There’s a little Trevor Bauer to his profile, but if his future team can get him to settle on a delivery (hopefully a less whacky one) he’s got great Bullpen potential and if he can get his Changeup into the mix he could be a #3 Starter. In the video below I particularly enjoy the pitch at the 2:00 mark which will go in the books as a foul ball, but was actually a Curve that came about 1" from hitting the batter in the back of the head, but instead clinged off the bat still sitting on his shoulder.