Baseball Prospect Journal

MLB Draft Mailbag: College pitching options

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READ: MLB Draft: 5 College Players Impressing Early

READ: MLB Draft: 5 College Players Struggling Early

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Every Sunday, I will answer questions about the MLB First-Year Player Draft. You can submit MLB Draft questions for the mailbag on Twitter (@DanZielinski3) or via email (danzielinski@the3rdmanin.com).

Last year, Florida left-handed pitcher A.J. Puk went sixth overall to the Oakland Athletics. Is Florida righty Alex Faedo a better draft prospect this year than Puk was last year?

–Gershon R., New York

A 6-foot-7, 220-pound lefty, A.J. Puk was in the conversation for the No. 1 overall pick most of last spring, before falling to Oakland after an underwhelming junior season with Florida in 2016. Control problems and back spasms hurt his consistency, while teams questioned his passion for the game. He has top-of-the-rotation potential if he can improve his command significantly.

Alex Faedo also has front-line starter potential, but unlike Puk, he doesn’t have command issues. A 6-foot-5, 225-pound right-hander, Faedo’s best pitch is his above-average mid-80s slider. He’s pitching well this spring, but his fastball is sitting in the high-80s to low-90s, instead of the mid-90s like it did last year.

Last fall Faedo underwent arthroscopic surgery on both knees, and scouts will keep a close eye on that this season. But right now, Faedo is the better prospect with less question marks than Puk had when he was draft-eligible a year ago.

Even though the draft is about three months away, who will the Brewers pick with their No. 9 overall selection?

–Collin K., Wisconsin

There’s a lot that can happen between now and the draft, which begins on June 12. Last year, the Brewers went college heavy with nine of their first 11 picks being college players, including Louisville outfielder Corey Ray, who the Brewers selected fifth overall.

Teams select the best player available in the early rounds of the draft, but I’d be surprised to see the Brewers draft an outfielder in the first round since their farm system is extremely deep at that position already.

In my latest mock draft, I have the Brewers selecting University of Missouri right-handed pitcher Tanner Houck. He’s a guy who could move through the minors quickly and has No. 1 starter potential.

What are your thoughts on left-handed college pitcher Ricky Tyler Thomas of Fresno State?

–Matthew M., California

Entering the season, Ricky Tyler Thomas wasn’t a top 50 draft prospect, but after a month of the college baseball season, his stock is rising.

A 6-foot-1, 185-pound lefty, Thomas got off to a hot start this spring, striking out a total of 26 batters in his first two starts (13 innings). But in his latest start against Air Force on March 17, Thomas got roughed up, walking six batters and allowing seven earned runs in five innings.

Thomas throws a low-90s fastball, a nasty changeup – which is his out pitch – and a curveball, which he spent the off-season developing.

The level of competition he’ll face this season won’t help his draft stock, but he has the potential to get drafted in the top five rounds if he can perform near the level he did in his first two starts of the season.

Submit MLB Draft questions for next week’s mailbag on Twitter (@DanZielinski3) or via email (danzielinski@the3rdmanin.com).

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