2010 Draft: Day Two High School Arms

Fan Confidence Poll: April 26th, 2010
Bullpens prove the difference in weekend series

Back before MLB tried to increase interest and monetize it’s amateur draft (there’s nothing wrong with that), the event lasted just two days, with rounds 1-10 coming on the first day. Now it’s spread out over three days, with the first three rounds on the first day, the next 17 the next day, and the final 30 on the third day. Now when you call a player a “Day One” or “Day Two” talent, it’s much easier to pin down what exactly we have on our hands.

The Yankees have done a nice job of grabbing some very talented high school arms in the so-called middle rounds of the draft (a.k.a. Day Two) in recent years. Bryan Mitchell (16th round, 2009) highlights that crop, but it also includes Brett Marshall (6th, 2008) and Dellin Betances (8th, 2006). Obviously none of those guys have yet to pay dividends, but the chances they develop into impact big leaguers far exceeds that of a player normally drafted in those rounds.

Here’s a breakdown of some similar high school arms guys who are expected to come off the board in Day Two …

Photo Credit: BartlettHighSchoolBaseball.com

Taylor Morton, RHP, Bartlett HS (Tenn.)
Morton made a bit of a name for himself during last summer’s Tournament of Stars showcase event by striking out Bryce Harper, but he was an interesting prospect long before that garnered him some attention. Listed at a sturdy 6-foot-2, 190 lbs, Morton sits in the low-90’s with his fastball and has dialed it up as high as 95 on occasion, and there’s reason to believe he’ll add more velocity as he fills out. Unlike most high schoolers, his best secondary pitch is circle change that comes in around the high-70’s and fades away from lefties, and he also offers a loopy low-70’s curveball that he’ll need to tightened up.

Morton’s strength is his strong command, which stems from his athleticism and ability to repeat a sound delivery. He’s unique considering that most prep pitchers have nothing that resembles a changeup when they turn pro, so that hurdle has already been cleared. Given the Yanks historical success with teaching their prospects curveballs, there’s hope for his third pitch. Committed to Tennessee, Morton is expected to hear his named called somewhere in the 5th or 6th round.

Photo Credit: Daniel Boyette, The Press-Register

Daryl Norris, RHP, Fairhope HS (Alabama)
Similar to Brett Marshall, Norris has spent most of his high school career as a shortstop and really didn’t commit to pitching full-time until late in his prep career. He can definitely hit – he launched 13 homers as a junior – but his future is on the mound thanks to a fastball that is buzzing in at 94 this spring and a pair of solid secondary offerings. Both his low-80’s slurve and low-80’s changeup need work, but Norris has demonstrated the ability to spin the ball and should improve with more experience.

One of the best quarterbacks in Alabama throughout his high school career, the 6-foot-1, 210 lb Norris is an outstanding athlete and one of the top two-way recruits in the country. He’s committed to Mississippi State, where he’ll play the field and pitch but not venture out onto the football field, and is considered one of the tougher signs out there this year. The biggest downside is that there’s no projection left in Norris’ frame, so what you see if what you’re going to get. He’s a 6th to 8th round kind of talent.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Evan Rutckyj, LHP, St. Joseph’s HS (Ontario) (video)
First of all, it’s pronounced Root-skee. Secondly, along with fellow lefty Evan Grills of Sinclair HS in Ontario, Rutckyj is arguably the best Canadian pitching prospect available in this draft. Listed at 6-foot-5 and 190 lbs, he brings a 89-90 mph fastball that should gain another foot or so and he fills out and irons out his rough delivery. He also throws a wipeout slider from his low three-quarters arm slot, but his changeup is non-existent at this point.

Like most hosers, Rutckyj is also a hockey player, but he gave it up recently to focus on baseball, where he has more pro potential. There’s considerable upside here given his massive frame and easy velocity, but he’s a project that is going to require a lot of time and a lot of patience. Rutckyj has yet to commit to a college yet, which could mean that he’s eying a JuCo like Jake Eliopoulos, the top Canadian lefty in last year’s class, who declined to sign with the Blue Jays as a second round pick and headed to Chipola College in Florida. Rutckyj is expected to be a 6th or 7th rounder this June.

Photo Credit: RoswellBaseball.or

Andrew Smith, RHP, Roswell HS (Georgia)
Smith is an easy guy to notice on the baseball field because he’s very polished for a high schooler, and because he pitches with a confidence that borders on arrogance. Working primarily with a fastball that registers 89-91 and has touched 93, Smith pounds the zone relentless and works deep into games. He high-70’s curveball is solid but not overwhelming, and he has the makings a nice changeup. The delivery has a little funk to it, something that pro instruction will help clean up.

I’ve generally seen Smith ranked in the 6th to 8th round range, but the scouting report strikes me as someone a little better than that. I love the polish and the the aggressiveness, and you can dream on his 6-foot-2, 180 lb frame. Committed to a major program in UNC, Smith isn’t going to be an easy sign.

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Fan Confidence Poll: April 26th, 2010
Bullpens prove the difference in weekend series
  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    Andrew Smith is a prospect from Georgia, that means the Braves will pick him. I think Atlanta’s scouting department only covers Georgia and its surrounding states.

    • Jose

      They can have him. I’m not too fond of him at all.

  • Thomas

    Rutckyi has one of the most bizarre pitching motions I’ve ever seen. There is no normal follow through. It is as if he was told by a coach to follow through, but he really didn’t want to so he just does it half-hearted.

    Do you think a team would change that motion and if so, would he likely lose some of his deception by doing so?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      I definitely think whoever drafts him will try to clean it up, which might cost him some deception. If it improves his command and overall stuff, it’l be worth it though.

    • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      That motion looks like it puts a lot of strain on the arm, doesn’t it? Looks like he whips the arm around without much torque being created by the rest of the body.

      (Relatively untrained eye, please correct if wrong.)

  • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    I know there are hundreds of these names out there and we’re just getting a few words about a few of them here, but man, you make Taylor Morton sound pretty good. Low-mid 90s, room for physical growth, plus change, good command? Want.

    (Mike – Love these posts on possible draft targets, they’re awesome.)

    • Thomas

      I agree Morton sound like a stud, the best of this group and a solid day two pick up.

  • Rose

    Daryl Norris, RHP, Fairhope HS (Alabama)

    Similar to Brett Marshall,

    Daryl Norris isn’t similar to Brett Marshall, Brett Marshall is similar to Daryl Norris…

    Daryl Norris once roundhouse kicked Brett Marshall due to reading something like this in the papers

  • Rose

    Daryl Norris, RHP, Fairhope HS (Alabama)

    Norris never went to high school. He once killed a polar bear with his eye black. He came up through the system as a ninja and really didn’t commit to pitching full-time until late in his prep career when he threw a baseball into Ted Danson’s hair and turned it grey. Norris has demonstrated the ability to spin the ball on his finger like a Globetrotter. He calls this his “Meadowlark Lemon” pitch…named after his favorite retired Globetrotter.

    One of the best quarterbacks in Alabama throughout his high school career, his chest hair stands at about 5 inches. Norris is an outstanding athlete and one of the top two-way recruits in the country.

    When asked about when Norris thinks he’ll be drafted, he roundhouse kicked the reporter in the jugular and stole an 8 year olds beef jerky.

    • Thomas

      You wrote “One of the best quarterbacks in Alabama throughout his high school career,” but also wrote “Norris never went to high school.”

      http://tinyurl.com/2exfbf7 (safe)

      • Rose

        Thomas,

        Glad you were able to find your magnifying glass

        Sincerely,
        Rose

      • W.W.J.M.D.

        Does any Chuck Norris joke really make sense?

  • W.W.J.M.D.

    The draft will be shown on MLB Network, right?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      The first round, I believe. That’s what was broadcast last year.

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        The RABbis should go this year and cover it live via chat. You all can bring TSJC (Supafan), too. He will cheer loudly when the Yankees take their pick.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          I tried to go last year, but they said there was literally no room. The studio wasn’t big enough for any press beyond MLB Network’s people.

          • Andy in Sunny Daytona

            The MLB has no idea how to run a proper draft.

        • Jose

          I’ll be there chanting HARP-ER, HARP-ER.

          • Andy in Sunny Daytona

            Harper should demand $50 million. And say he won’t sign for a penny less, and any team that picks him and doesn’t sign him, will never get his permission to draft him again. He has all the leverage.

        • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          Dude they should let TSJC be the one fan in the studio, with two jerseys on (one NYY away and one NYY home jersey) a la his Jets garb, and just let him go nuts in the background in reaction to each pick. Would be hilarious.

        • W.W.J.M.D.

          Is TSJC to busy with the blog? I never see him on here anymore.

  • Torrid

    Mike, can you please sharpen up your editing? I’ll overlook an occasional error or two, but anything more than that begins to get really distracting. Thanks.

    • W.W.J.M.D.

      I think this is the sort of thing they would perfer you email them about or maybe leave it as a Submit A Tip. There isn’t a need to do this publicly when those options are available.

  • Mister Delaware

    Morton looks like a great pick, but I’d rather see us take him in the 9th round!