The 2012 amateur draft is exactly two weeks away, so between now and then I’m going to highlight some prospects individually rather than lump them together into larger posts.
Duane Underwood | RHP
Hailing from Marietta, Georgia and Pope High School, Underwood is committed to the University of Georgia and would get a chance to contribute both as a pitcher and position player for the Bulldogs. He’s been dogged by inconsistency this spring, putting his draft stock in a state of flux.
Standing 6-foot-3 and 210 lbs., Underwood has shown first round potential with a big fastball that has touched 97-98 but usually sits 92-94. His mid-70s curveball is a work in progress but he’s shown a feel for making the ball spin, so it’s just a matter of refinement. A fading low-80s changeup is his best secondary offering and is quite advanced for a high school arm. Underwood’s command can come and go because he throws across his body a bit and tends to rush his delivery, but the athleticism is there for him for repeat his motion. He’s drawn praise for his competitiveness and baseball aptitude as well, which is always a plus. It’s worth noting that Underwood will graduate at 17 and is young for his draft class.
As expected with the inconsistent spring, the consensus is very split on Underwood. MLB.com ranks him as the 34th best prospect in the draft, Keith Law ranks him 52nd, and Baseball America ranks him 104th. Depending on when you see him, you could see a first round arm for a third or fourth round type. Talent is talent though, and Underwood clearly has plenty of it. I like him best for either of New York’s two second rounders (#89 and #94 overall) but he might not last that long. The Yankees have drafted just two high school pitchers in the first (not sandwich) round in the last 20 years — Phil Hughes and Gerrit Cole — and they were instances of players who were expected to go top 15 but fell into their laps. Not guys who were inconsistent and fringe first rounders. Underwood does offer the size, power stuff, and makeup the Yankees like though, so they could buck the trend.