Draft Profile # 2: Tall Tales of a Pair of High-Upside High School Arms

The Cubs moved up to the 27th and 31st picks in the draft after Edwin Encarnacion signed with the Indians last week. Their third selection will come at the end of the second round, which is after the competitive balance picks. There will be plenty of pitchers in that range, but the question is whether the Cubs prefer a college arm who might be more advanced and closer to the pros or a prep project with more to learn.

While it’s a risk to take a high school arm that high, the potential reward is a top-of-the-rotation starter, something the Cubs lack in the system. For that reason, I can see the Cubs taking a pitcher with one of their first three picks.

The two young pitchers featured below made Baseball America’s Top 100 draft prospects, though neither made MLB Pipeline’s Top 50. However, that could easily change over the next six months. Both are young, moldable athletes who are far from finished products, but have either shown the potential or possess the physical projection needed to do well.

Nick Storz – RHP/OF – Poly Prep Country Day School, Brooklyn, N.Y.
6-5, 255 – Committed to LSU

Photo - Baseball America
Photo – Baseball America

Even though he is maxed out physically, he has a lot to improve upon. Storz’s potential for power on the mound and in the batter’s box is massive. Like any high school player, he has a lot of mechanical warts, both pitching and hitting. The fact that he is a two-way player only adds to his profile. Most reports have him wanting to do both at LSU, very similar to Luken Baker.

Not that Storz is a project, but he is going to take some work to iron out some kinks that could be exploited. If those can be corrected, look out!

Strengths:
Pitching – Good power, downward plane, improving fastball
Hitting – Power, power, power
Fielding – Excellent arm in RF, good speed
Excellent makeup, strong work ethic

Areas of concern:
Offspeed arm motion is not smooth/fluid, tips slider
Violent hit-or-miss swing

Take a look at his size and strength in this home run derby from Baseball America.

What Others Say
Taylor Blake Ward of Scout.com

[…] he fires off fastballs upwards of 95 MPH. Primarily, Storz sits 90-93, and does lose some velocity late in outings, dropping to the high 80’s. He backs up his fastball with a big-breaking two-plane slider, that has a bit of slurve break to it. Storz does throw a changeup, but it is in need of development.

At the plate, Storz uses his entire frame to muscle balls out of the park. Winning multiple prep Home Run Derbies, balls have been tracked as far as 430 feet, helped by his plus bat speed and violent uppercut swing […] In the field, he uses his athleticism, plus-plus arm and average to above-average speed be a suitable outfielder.

Mitchell Stone – LHP – Deer Creek High School, Edmond, OK.

6-10, 245 – Committed to Oklahoma State

Last summer, the Cubs continued a trend in the Theo Epstein Era of drafting very tall pitchers. Mitchell Stone fits in that class. A lefty to boot, the prep senior uses a very controlled delivery to throw in the low 90’s. He similar to current Cubs prospect Bryan Hudson in that he’s very athletic and has a sweeping breaking ball. Unlike Hudson, however, Stone has a bit more of a power arm. I have seen projections of him going as high as the first round and as low as the fourth.

I think there is a lot that he can improve on with pro instruction. He does throw relatively smoothly and effortlessly, but I think he could ramp up a couple more mph on that fastball just based on his size and some small mechanical changes. Again, the Cubs have show a penchant for tall pitchers, which is part of why I believe Stone is worth watching this spring.

Mitchell Stone plays in the 2016 Area Code Games on August 6-10, 2016 at Blair Field in Long Beach, California (Bill Mitchell)
Mitchell Stone ~ (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

Strengths:
92/93 mph fastball
71-78 mph slider
Downhill plane
Variety of pitches
Keeps hitters off-balance
Very athletic

Areas of Concern:
Lower back
Long-term health
Effort in torso

What Others Say
Eric Logenhagen – Fangraphs

His fastball sits 87-90 with the kind of downhill plane that requires a runaway truck ramp every few miles. Stone’s back and torso are heavily involved in his delivery and there’s some effort to it, but I’m comfortable projecting him as a starter and think he’ll throw an acceptable number of strikes […] His sweeping 71-78 mph curveball shows good shape and depth and was more reliably average as my viewings over the past several weeks went along. He has some changeup feel and, while his arm acceleration isn’t special, I don’t think projecting an average change is irresponsible.

Mike Lemaire – Baseball America

92 mph with his fastball and showing feel for his breaking ball while proving he has the athleticism to repeat his delivery […] he was able to throw multiple pitches for strikes and keep the opposing hitters off-balance.

This is obviously a far cry from a comprehensive list, but the goal is simply to introduce a few names to keep on the radar as the spring rolls around. For more, check out the shortstops from the first installment in the series.






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Todd Johnson

During the day, Todd teaches US and World History in a small town in northern Illinois. As a Cubs fan, his first baseball memories are of Ernie, Billy, and Fergie. Baseball cards, Strat-O-Matic, and fantasy baseball eventually followed. The summer of 2017 will find him spending most of his days watching the South Bend Cubs throughout the Midwest and Great Lakes. You can always find him on Twitter: @cubscentral08

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