His prospect stock has seemingly plummeted, but is Gray really worse off now than he was four months ago?
I have been gushing about Gray since he was drafted, and perhaps more impressive than his track record on draft day was the level of improvement within months of the selection. Gray relied mostly on his high-90's fastball and exploding slider while in college, but the Rockies made the refinement of his changeup a focal point in his development. Mandating that he use the pitch in games, the cambio quickly evolved from a theoretically mid-range grade into a pitch that misses bats and fools hitters with deceptive arm speed. Gray was ranked as the 13th overall prospect by the BP crew prior to the season, but his ranking has plummeted since and the right-hander fell off the Mid-season list of Top 50 prospects.
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A look at the mechanical profiles of some of the arms drafted in the first round this year.
The top of the 2015 first-year player draft was a bit light on arms, especially when compared to some of the pitching-rich player pools of recent drafts. Despite this adjusted outlook of expectations, the approach to the mechanics report cards will be the same as for last year's draft: grades will be limited to power and stability (rather than the five-subject report card that is often used on Raising Aces), with the usual caveats that my exposure to each pitcher falls under a wide umbrella of sample size—some of these guys I have seen multiple times both live and on video, whereas there are others who I have not witnessed personally.
A lack of a quality third pitch to go along with mechanical issues are both holding Archie Bradley back from reaching his potential.
The top prospect in the Diamondbacks system entering this season (and the number-11 overall, on our Top 101), Bradley was expected to start the season at Triple-A Reno. This after a 2014 season that was saturated with inconsistency, but Arizona had other plans after watching the 22-year-old in spring training. Bradley found himself on the Opening Day roster for the D'backs and is now entering his third month of big-league ball, having made eight starts for Arizona with ugly results (and now finds himself on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis).
One of the top pitching prospects in the game has now made two starts in the bigs. He's been pretty impressive, but how does he grade mechanically?
Prior to the season, Noah Syndergaard placed as the no. 9 overall prospect in the game and ranked third among pitching prospects, trailing only Lucas Giolito and Dylan Bundy on the Baseball Prospectus Top 101. Both Giolito and Bundy are working their ways back from Tommy John surgery (Giolito in particular has a lot of ladder still to climb), but Syndergaard beat them to the bigs in 2015. The Mets needed a pitcher to fill in when Dillon Gee hit the disabled list, and Syndergaard got the call.
The White Sox prized lefty prospect lived up to the hype in his debut, but how did he grade mechanically?
The third pick of the 2014 draft, Caros Rodon needed less than 35 innings of minor-league ball before the White Sox introduced him to the show. The South Siders called up the young southpaw in mid-April and started him off in the bullpen, giving him three stints—two of the multi-inning variety—in games where the White Sox were trailing. But on Saturday, he had the first start of his big-league career, taking the ball in an interleague matchup with the Cincinnati Reds. It was the second game of a day-night doubleheader, as a makeup for the previous day's rainout, but the rookie's starting debut overshadowed the events of game one.
Issues with pitch usage and command have led to a rough start for Taijuan Walker.
Anticipation was high for Taijuan Walker's first start of the 2015 season, following an injury-riddled 2014 campaign and an absolutely dominant spring. His line from spring training included just two earned runs allowed across a ridiculous 27 innings of work (seven games). He struck out 26 batters and walked only five, with just 10 hits allowed and a pair of solo homers accounting for the only runs. His raw stuff includes velocity in the mid-90s, a cutter and a hard changeup that both register in the high 80s to low 90s, and the occasional curveball that drops down to the mid-70s on the velo scale. His mechanics have received solid ratings from yours truly in the past, including an overall grade of B- in the 2015 SP Guide, which combined with the hard stuff to raise the optimism surrounding his first start.