The Royals have taken prep arms quite often in the draft since Dayton Moore became General Manager with plenty of varies in success. From Mike Montgomery, Danny Duffy and John Lamb in their first two drafts until the most recent class, prep arms have been a struggle to get a handle on as one might expect. The successes have come few and far between with Danny Duffy from that 2008 draft being the greatest success and Jake Junis from the ’11 draft emerging as another possible contributor. Still in the minors with a possibility remains ’14 draftees Foster Griffin and Scott Blewett as arms that are now at the upper levels and still have the possibility to contribute, but Royals fans already know reaching the levels that they are likely to start the season at doesn’t guarantee an appearance in the big leagues. Despite those numbers, roughly 1/5 of the players that appear on any of the top prospects lists that you will find are prep pitchers.
Let’s not dive into the weeds too deeply on the development problem, but it’s not a secret that they have now had three high profile pitchers step away from the game in Zack Greinke, Danny Duffy and now Ashe Russell. In the case of Greinke and Duffy, that turned out quite well while the jury is still out on Russell. Of course, Greinke can’t really be held against this front office as they weren’t the ones to rush him onto a sinking ship of a major league team to get his head beat in. Still, three pitchers walking away from the game may mean the Royals need to adjust the type of personalities they are adding to the system. A decent way of doing this would be to draft a pitcher who has been around the game, knows what to expect, and whose training routine doesn’t need much adjustment.
One such pitcher who fits that profile and has a chance to be available at the 18th or in the early 30 slots is left-hander Ryan Weathers, the son of former major leaguer David Weathers. After hanging around and watching major leaguers from the time he was eight years old, the younger Weathers has found his routine and developed a style for pitching that most would analyze as older for his years, showing a flair for movement and location that helped him set a Tennessee state record with 28 strikeouts in the Class A state tourney over 14 innings and 2 games. Not just blessed with a mind for the game, he also features the power and athleticism for it with a fastball that has continued to pick up velocity and now sits 90-93 mph while topping out at 95.
Despite a body that does present itself as athletic, Weathers is just that thanks in part to an ability to repeat his mechanics and a finish that leaves him in a good position to field. In addition to the fastball, he has a curveball that he can manipulate to freeze hitters or get them to chase out of the zone. Next to the curve is a changeup that shows good armside fade and above average comfort for the pitch for a high schooler. The entire arsenal features movement and his above-average baseball IQ shows excellent sequencing and intelligence to move the ball around the zone, giving him an advantage over hitters which should allow him to excel at the lower levels of the minor leagues.
Overall this is a type of pitcher who shouldn’t need much development and could move quickly despite his prep status thanks to his IQ and repertoire. All this while also fitting in with MJ Melendez and Nick Pratto as players who have been in front of scouts for quite some time.
Featured photo via Team USA Baseball