After seeing a few mock drafts at Baseball America, Hero Sports and others around the internets, what better time to discuss the hard-throwing Texan, Shane Baz? Before we get to him though, I must write that it surprises me the Royals could be leaning towards a high school pitcher with their pick. After all, the lack of success with high school pitchers since the start of the Lonnie Goldberg draft era is pretty stark. The Royals and Goldberg have signed 20 prep pitchers counting the draft last year. Those picks have accounted for nearly $14.5m in draft bonuses and produced exactly one major league inning of production and 156 plate appearances from Justin Maxwell via the Kyle Smith trade. To say they’ve struggled to find the correct player in the draft in this group of players is an understatement.
Knowing these results and the fact that a few mock drafts at the big publications have the Royals eyeing prep pitchers as their selection, definitely threw me off. Then again, this group has never struggled for self-confidence. Let’s take a look at who the Royals may select with that pick. Early indications were linking the Royals to Hans Crouse of Dana Point, but that has changed as of late and the prospect that the Royals are being linked to now is Shane Baz of Concordia, Texas.
Checkout more video via 2080baseball here.
In the terms of Baz, I think he represents a slight change from the pitchers that the Royals have selected high in past drafts as a more physically imposing pitcher in the future. A good athlete, Baz can run his fastball up to 98 mph while working a cutter and slider in the mid-80s. In addition to those pitches, Baz has a decent feel for the changeup and a curveball. That all comes from a strong 6’3 frame that should add more strength. There is some thought that he could go to TCU as a two-way player and to stay close to his parents to try to repeat the performance of his idol, Luken Baker. Still, there are near three million reasons why he could want to forgo that decision.
Houston news segment on Baz
The control/command profile is currently lacking and while he shows feel for the changeup, he would need to concentrate on those factors of his game to improve his overall game. This is not uncommon for high school pitchers; even pitchers who are said to have plus control often lack that once in the minor leagues. The greatest factors are that he is athletic, shows body control and can repeat his delivery. The control should come with development over time.
Comping Baz to past Royals draft picks in the Goldberg era would lead him to somewhere in between Kyle Zimmer and Jake Junis. All three are physical right-handers with good enough athleticism to play multiple spots on the diamond in the prep ranks. Obviously, Baz would rank well ahead of where Junis was as a pitcher coming out of high school, but without the polish (or the injury history) of Zimmer.
Drawing on their past prep pitchers, one can’t project a jump in velocity as no prep pitcher on the list below has seen a velocity spike that I know of and a few have seen a dip. Given that Baz’s current velocity is in the 92-95 mph range, that should be enough if he can just hold firm and not drop like we’ve seen from others. The greatest fear I have is that the Royals would lean on him to work on his curveball, instead of staying hard-hard with the fastball/slider/cutter combo. That could undercut a dynamic repertoire that would dominate early and allow him time to develop his changeup while working on his control with his fastball. With that said, should they decide to go with a high school prep pitcher, I like Baz more than Hans Crouse, D.L. Hall and Hagen Danner for this organization.
Here’s a look at the prep pitchers the Royals have signed since the 2011 draft:
|Draft Year||Pitcher||Highest Level Reached||Bonus|
|2016||Malcolm Van Buren||TJ Surgery||$147,500|
|2016||Nathan Webb||Rookie – AZL Royals||$60,000|
|2015||Ashe Russell||Rookie – Burlington||$2,190,200|
|2015||Nolan Watson||Low-A – Lexington||$1,895,200|
|2015||Garett Davila||Low-A – Lexington||$746,000|
|2014||Foster Griffin||High-A – Wilmington||$1,925,000|
|2013||Carter Hope||Rookie – Idaho Falls*||$560,900|
|2013||Christian Flecha||Rookie – Idaho Falls||$100,000|
|2012||Colin Rodgers||High-A – Wilmington||$700,000|
|2012||Zach Lovvorn||AA – NW Arkansas||$275,000|
|2012||Hunter Haynes||Rookie – Idaho Falls*||$100,000|
|2012||Dylan Sons||Rookie – Idaho Falls*||$100,000|
|2012||Austin Fairchild||Rookie – Idaho Falls*||$350,000|
|2012||Matt Tenuta||AA – NW Arkansas||$100,000|
|2012||Jake Newberry||AA – NW Arkansas||Unreported|
|2011||Bryan Brickhouse||Low-A – Lexington||$1,500,000|
|2011||Kyle Smith||High-A – Wilmington**||$695,000|
|2011||Christian Binford||AAA – Omaha||$575,000|
*Currently out of baseball
**Traded to Houston, currently at AA – Corpus Christi
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Featured Photo via KHOU.com