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May 17, 2013
Dissecting the Draft: Trey Ball (Player Report--Pitcher)
Trey Ball | LHP | New Castle HS (New Castle, IN)
Ball in 140 characters or less:
Very good athlete w/good body control; projectable frame; should add strength; room for growth in stuff; potential for three + offerings; command will come; + makeup.
Projectable big league frame with high waist, medium broad hips, broad shoulders, and long limbs. Good control of body and solid flexibility to go with athleticism that plays. Long strides helps plus speed play up when underway.
Ball utilizes a compact “phone booth” step-in and leg lift to start his delivery, then relies on long limbs and good drive to create extension and late release. His hand split, backswing, pronation, and acceleration all work pretty well with his lower half, creating solid timing and momentum, and his top shelf athleticism and body control help him to repeat his mechanics well, particularly for a prep player who splits his attention between the field and the mound, in addition to other sports. He can fail to keep a tight front side from time-to-time, in addition to coming with some tilt and corresponding fall-off to the third base side, which will lead to inconsistencies in his release and negatively affect his command and control. His three-quarters release and long arms help to create good plane on his fastball, and he does a decent job of repeating the slot with his curve and changeup. There is some effort stemming from his drive, momentum, and arm speed, which too causes some inconsistencies in his release and in his ability to command the ball, but overall he does a solid job of moving his pitches around, with his fastball and change-up command currently outdistancing his breaking ball command by a fair amount. He’s slow to the plate from the stretch, even when incorporating a slide step, so his drafting organization will need to determine whether the best solution to this issue is faster pacing or a focus on disrupting runners’ timing and jumps.
Fastball – Ball’s fastball has reportedly reached as high as 96 mph this spring, and has routinely sat in the low-90s (fading some only recently this spring). With a projectable frame, and plenty of room to add additional strength, durability concerns are lessened some, with solid plus velocity likely, long term. Ball produces some arm-side action, but the pitch falls short of being truly explosive. He moves it around pretty well to both sides of the plate and has little trouble elevating when needed, though he works well down in the zone, creating plane.
Curveball – Ball’s curve is a future plus offering that is at its best in as a 1-to-7 offering with late bite and good depth. When clicking, he’ll bring the pitch in the mid-70s, helping it to serve as a quality change-of-pace pitch without affording hitters recoup time to make adjustments. He has trouble commanding the pitch with consistency, and his control of the offering also lags behind that of his fastball and off-speed. He’ll drop his release on occasion, as well, forcing him to come around the pitch, which produces a soft, slurvy breaker that tends to stick on the hit plane. With a little more consistency in execution, it should be a worthy weapon at the next level, playing at plus—perhaps better.
Changeup – Ball’s arm action produces good fade on the changeup, which mirrors the arm-side run noted above on the fastball. He throws the pitch with a high level of comfort and creates arm speed and arm slot deception, giving amateur hitters little chance to defend themselves. He generally throws the pitch in the 78-82 mph range, creating a solid velo delta that should play well against pro bats. It’s a third offering with plus potential for the lefty.
Ball boasts a solid three-pitch foundation, a projectable frame with long limbs and the athleticism and coordination to control them, and high marks in make-up and work ethic, combining to present an enticing draft profile. The lefty has shown well this spring and seems a good bet to offer at least mid-rotation production when all is said and done. As with most high school arms, some fluctuations in velocity and inconsistency in his secondaries can leave an evaluator with concerns as to whether these issues will be magnified once the player is asked to throw more frequently and in higher effort situations. There is some solace to be found in his projectable frame, which should allow for additional strength to come as he fills in, and much solace to be taken from Ball’s athleticism and work ethic, would should allow him to incorporate pro instruction well. In addition to being a top tier pitching prospect, Ball is a worthy first round target as an outfielder, though his combination of “now” stuff, relatively clean mechanics, athleticism, and track record this spring make the mound a slightly safer proposition. His Adjusted OFP, listed above, gets a bump due to physical projection and the potential for a better-than-projected bump in stuff, and a slight knock due to typical concerns relating to durability and the potential negative impacts inherent in prep arms jumping from amateur to pro ball. The Texas commit should come off the board in the first round and fits well as a top ten pick on the bump.
Projected position: Front-end to mid-rotation starter; #2/#3
Suggested draft slot: First half of 1st Round