The 2013 amateur draft will be held from June 6-8 this year, and between now and then I’m going to highlight some prospects individually rather than lump them together into larger posts.
Aaron Blair | RHP
A Las Vegas kid, Blair wound up in West Virginia at Marshall after impressing recruits at a showcase event in Florida as a high school senior. He’s pitched to a 2.40 ERA with 52 strikeouts, 16 walks, and zero homers allowed in 48.2 innings across eight starts this spring after posting a 3.60 ERA during his first two years at school. Blair really made a name for himself in the Cape Cod League last summer, when he led the circuit with a 1.17 ERA.
Listed at a sturdy 6-foot-5 and 220 lbs., Blair is a true three-pitch pitcher who sits 90-93 with his fastball. An upper-70s curveball was his top secondary pitch coming out of high school — the Astros drafted him in the 21st round in 2010, but he obviously didn’t sign — but he picked up a low-to-mid-80s changeup in college that has since developed into a true swing-and-miss offering. Blair has the confidence to throw the pitch in any count and to both right and left-handed hitters. He throws plenty of strikes thanks to a repeatable delivery and he draws raves for his makeup and work ethic, which helped him develop that out-pitch changeup. There are plenty more videos at YouTube.
Keith Law (subs. req’d) and Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked Blair as the 39th and 46th best prospect in the draft class in their most recent rankings, respectively, which means he’s firmly in the late first round/sandwich round mix. He’s not a future ace or anything, but he’s a no-doubt starter with a frame built to soak up innings. High(-ish) probability mid-rotation workhorses are always popular targets early in the draft, especially among risk-averse teams. The Yankees have shown they value Cape Cod League success in recent years and we know they love big-bodied pitchers, so Blair seems like someone right up their alley. The latest rankings say he would be a reach with one of their three early picks (26th, 32nd, 33rd), but nothing worth getting upset over.