Today’s installment of Scouting the Draft looks at five collegiate right-handers with the chance to come off the board in the early rounds next June. As a reminder, the goal of this series is not to cover every name worth knowing for next June; we have plenty of time to bring you full reports on the top draft-eligible players for 2013 over the next seven months. This is meant to serve as an introduction to the draft class for those who have not yet begun to follow the action and to pool in one place a rundown of some of the top performances in the months leading up to the draft before we start parsing the class in more detail.
Jonathon Crawford | RHP | University of Florida
The Basics: 6-foot-1, 205-pounds; right/right profile; draft day age 21 years, seven months
Brings to the table: Front-end stuff, highlighted by a plus fastball that has a second gear. Crawford generally sits 92-94 mph with his fastball, topping 95/96, with arm-side life and bore. His slider is a second plus offering at its best, usually coming in between 82-85 mph with tilt and late bite. Crawford keeps a solid tempo and repeats his mechanics well, though the angles on his pitches can keep the ball on too hittable a path at times. He still lacks a consistent off-speed pitch but has made some progress with a change-up.
Made a name for himself when: He dominated the Gainesville Regional in June to the tune of a 98-pitch no-hitter against Bethune-Cookman in which he struck out five and walked just one. The Florida righty continued to deal with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, tossing 25 2/3 innings over six appearances and allowing just 14 hits while walking 11 and striking out 15. Crawford’s strikeout totals aren’t gaudy, but part of that can be explained by the fact that 20 of his innings came against a tough Cuba squad. The stats are solid, but the stuff and poise are what stood out most, solidifying Crawford’s spot among the top tier of college arms available this June.
Figures to get attention: In the top half of the first round. Evaluators will be particularly interested in how his change develops this spring, as that could be the primary factor in determining whether Crawford is able to stick in a rotation at the upper levels. While some evaluators dislike some of the herk-and-jerk leading into his stride, Crawford could win even the non-believers over with a strong spring in a tough SEC.
Dan Slania | RHP | University of Notre Dame
The Basics: 6-foot-5, 275-pounds; right/right profile; draft day age 21 years, zero months
Brings to the table: A really big body and a really big fastball. Slania profiles as a late-inning arm at the next level, featuring a low- to mid-90s fastball with bore. His slider is an average offering that plays up due to pitch-path deception, making it tough for hitters to distinguish from his fastball. His change-up is a show-me pitch that can draw weak contact and could be developed into a swing-and-miss offering. Some evaluators think he’ll find a slight bump in fastball velocity once he’s introduced to pro conditioning and instruction.
Made a name for himself when: He tallied a Cape-leading 10 saves for Cotuit this summer and earned a spot on the West All-Star squad. Slania saw some fluctuation in his fastball velocity this summer, hitting as high as 98 mph for some evaluators while producing consistent 90-94 mph outings for others. No one disputes the arm is big, and while his slider lacks plus depth, it misses bats because of the difficulty hitters have in picking it up. Slania pounded the strike zone over 29-plus innings, whiffing 39 and walking just four.
Figures to get attention: Early on day two of the draft. Notre Dame has an early season west coast trip that will be highly scouted with special attention paid to Slania (particularly since it can be so difficult to pin down relief arms in-season). Slania doesn’t currently have the stuff to project in the supplemental first round, but an uptick in consistency this spring could land him there with a team looking to balance out multiple picks.
Ryne Stanek | RHP | University of Arkansas
The Basics: 6-foot-4, 180-pounds; right/right profile; draft day age 20 years, 10 months
Brings to the table: A front-end profile from body to stuff to make-up. Stanek throws an easy 94-96 mph fastball out of a three-quarters slot. His long arm gives him the ability to produce tough angles for hitters, though it can at times make it difficult to spot his slider on the inner-half to right-handed batters. His fastball/slider combo is arguably the best one-two punch in the draft. His change-up and curve are solid offerings that could be weapons in the pro ranks, as well, with further refinement.
Made a name for himself when: Last summer with Team USA before emerging as one of the top starters in college baseball this spring. Stanek partook in limited action with USA’s Collegiate National Team, logging just 11 innings over two appearances. While the Razorback ace continued to show quality stuff, it was evident that the toll of a long season was beginning to kick in.
Figures to get attention: Early on day one. Stanek is perhaps the biggest pre-season favorite to come off the board in the first five picks. He has the track record and some remaining projectability and has already shown an ability to take instruction and put in the work to realize improvements. If he can find a little more consistency in arm path with the same level of on-field success as he’s seen over the past 12 months, it would be a shock to see him slip past the first several picks in June.
Bobby Wahl | RHP | University of Mississippi
The Basics: 6-foot-4, 210-pounds; right/right profile; draft day age 21 years, two months
Brings to the table: Three average or better offerings, a workhorse build, and the chance for three plus major-league offerings. I ranked Wahl as a second-round talent coming out of high school off the strength of his projectable frame and feel for four pitches. He has built on that promise at Ole Miss, now featuring a heavy 90-94 mph fastball (topping 96) that he pairs with a hard 83-86 mph disappearing slider. When on, his change-up has late drop and serves as a third swing-and-miss pitch. His durable 6-foot-4, 210 pound frame should allow him to maintain his stuff through the long pro seasons.
Made a name for himself when: Out of the bullpen as a freshman, both at Mississippi and on the Cape. He transitioned well to the rotation this spring, producing a line of 9.5 SO/9, 2.9 BB/9, and a .211 BAA over 99 innings. This summer with Team USA Wahl eased up on the gas some, throwing exclusively in relief. Over just 7.2 innings, Wahl struck out nine and walked five while allowing just six hits (three of which came in his last 1.1 inning appearance against Team Cuba).
Figures to get attention: Right along with fellow SEC elite arms Ryne Stanek (Arkansas), Jonathan Crawford (Florida), Kevin Ziomek (Vanderbilt) and Karsten Whitson (Florida). Wahl has a chance to come off the board as high as the top five picks if he continues to show three average to plus offerings deep into his starts. As with Stanek, Crawford, Ziomek and Whitson, he’ll get a value bump from organizations who give weight to arms tested in the SEC.
Trevor Williams | RHP | Arizona St. University
The Basics: 6-foot-3, 228-pounds; right/right profile; draft day age 21 years, one month
Brings to the table: A plus fastball and solid build. The rest of Williams’ profile is still up in the air, as he struggles to find consistency with his breaking ball and change-up. His angles can be hittable and his backside arm action gives hitters a three-point flash, helping them to pick the ball up through release. Williams has an intriguing arm and continues to inch closer to realizing the potential his profile offers.
Made a name for himself when: He showed this spring he could transition into a rotation and log innings on his arm without tiring. This summer he continued to show good velocity and his typical quality, if inconsistent, slider. His first “big inning” season did not result in a downtick in stuff, which boosts his value some entering this spring.
Figures to get attention: Throughout PAC 12 play and at the early-season Coca-Cola Classic tourney in Surprise, Arizona. This will be a widely attended event, featuring a number of teams with high-draft follows, giving Williams a chance to make an impression early on. He’ll need to show more consistency in his secondaries this spring to sell evaluators on his ability to start. Further, if Williams cannot add more deception (most likely through better shielding of the ball on the backside) he may struggle to miss enough bats to provide late-inning value, relegating him to a middle-relief role. His summer set him up as a high follow; his spring will determine whether he comes off the board in the first or fourth round.
College Left-Handed Pitchers
Summer Scouting Series:
Nick J. Faleris is a practicing structured finance attorney and Sports Industry team member in the Milwaukee office of Foley & Lardner LLP. The views he expresses in Baseball Prospectus are his own, and not necessarily those of the law firm.