Sunday, June 3, 2012

2012 Draft: Players of Note

Andrew Heaney -- lhp

Heaney stands 6-2, weighs 175, bats left, and throws left. He is one of the top collegiate pitchers in the country, pitching for the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

Heaney has a three pitch mix with a 90-92 mph fastball that can touch 95, a sharp biting curveball, and a good changeup. He has an effortless delivery and very good command, which helps his stuff play up a tick. As a junior, he posted a 1.60 ERA with a 140/22 K/BB ratio in 118.1 innings for the Cowboys.

The Reds have been tied to Heaney, but I'm torn about his mechanics. I love the mechanics from the waist up, but hate the mechanics from the waist down. Heaney has a smooth, clean arm action and an effortless delivery, which isn't surprising given that he doesn't incorporate his lower body into the delivery at all. He has a nice leg kick that passes parallel with a bit of hip rotation, but he gives away all the potential energy that he could impart on the ball by unpacking his leg kick BEFORE driving towards the plate. Instead of pushing off towards the plate from the apex of his leg kick, he lowers his leg before driving to the plate. You simply can't generate as much energy with the lower half if your drive to the plate begins after you have already unpacked your leg kick. 

Not surprisingly in light of his limited lower body action, Heaney uses a conservative stride and gets zero separation between his hip rotation and his shoulder rotation, which means that he generates his velocity largely with his arm, not his entire body.

Here's a look at Heaney in action:


Heaney grades out well in terms of performance (stuff/command) and polish (experience and proximity to the majors), but I wonder about his injury risk. Can you consistently pitch 200+ innings with low 90s velocity generated largely by the arm? There's certainly no guarantee that he can't, but I have my doubts. Heaney offers a great blend of performance level and polish, but I would downgrade him on my list based on his mechanics.  

David Dahl -- of

David Dahl has some intriguing attributes, but actually shares the same problem as Andrew Heaney: limited use of the lower body. Dahl stands 6-2, weighs 185 lbs, bats left, and throws right. He has plus speed and a very good arm, which should serve him well in centerfield, but there are questions about his instincts.

At the dish, Dahl has a balanced, smooth swing which enables him to make consistent contact and generates gap power. However, it's easy to have a smooth, balanced swing when you don't incorporate much lower body action into the swing. Good balance is about controlling the forces in the swing, but if you leave out the force generated by the lower half than good balance is easier to attain and less impressive to witness. 

Here's a look at Dahl courtesy of BaseballAmerica:

You can see the small stride and very quiet lower half, but also the good balance and quick stroke. He doesn't, however, cock his hips to generate load in his swing. While Dahl currently uses limited lower body action in his swing, it's not as problematic as it might be for Heaney. It may limit Dahl's power potential, but it won't increase his injury risk and he can certainly profile as a table-setter even without increasing his power production. As it stands, his good hand-eye coordination and pitch recognition skills enable him to consistently square up the ball.

While Dahl has some impressive tools, there are concerns about his intangibles and his motivation. Some question whether he has the desire and drive necessary to be great. However, one of the big positives on Dahl is his strikezone judgment, which Baseball America rates as the best in the High School player pool. Dahl also rates as the 3rd best Pure Hitter in the High School player pool. Dahl could develop into a leadoff or number two type hitter, but he comes with some risk.  

Marcus Stroman -- rhp

Here's a quick look at Duke's Marcus Stroman. Stroman has electric stuff, but stands only 5-9. I don't buy into the bias against short righthanded pitchers, but the general consensus is that Stroman will end up in the bullpen. Given that I'm not convinced he can stick in the rotation, he slides down my list. Relievers in the first round aren't a good idea in my book, as I'd rather roll the dice on a pitcher who clearly profile as a starting pitcher. Here's a look at him in action:

Stephen Piscotty -- 3b/of

Piscotty is a pure hitter. He is a junior at Stanford University who spent time at third base and rightfield. He has limited power potential, but hits line drives at a very good clip and uses the whole field very well. He makes consistent contact, often walking more often than he strikes out. Unfortunately, Piscotty lacks power potential and may not be able to stick at the hot corner. If he shifts to a corner outfield spot, then the lack of power becomes more problematic. Piscotty is the type of professional hitter that I would love to have in the system, but as a tweener with limited power potential he's a reach at #14. If the Reds think he can stick at third base, then he might be worth the risk, but as a corner outfielder he doesn't profile as well. If he by some stretch of the imagination lasts until the 49th overall pick, then I wouldn't mind seeing the Reds pull the trigger in the hopes that he emerges in David Freese type fashion.

At the very least, it's worth watching him swing the bat:

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