The 2013 amateur draft is less than one week away, so between now and then I’m going to highlight some prospects individually rather than lump them together into larger posts.
Phil Bickford | RHP
A Southern California kid out of Oaks Christian High School, Bickford improved his stock this spring by showing livelier stuff. He’s strongly committed to Cal State Fullerton.
Bickford’s calling card is his premium fastball. He uses a clean and quick arm action to generate 90-94 mph fastballs from his 6-foot-4 and 185 lb. frame. The pitch runs in on right-handed batters and has touched 96 mph on occasion this spring. His delivery and size suggest he could flirt with the upper-90s as he matures. Bickford lacks a defined breaking ball even though he throws both a slider and curveball. They’re both very rough and fringy pitches at best, so that is a huge concern. He’s a one-pitch guy. Bickford draws rave reviews for his makeup and work ethic. There are plenty more videos on YouTube.
Baseball America and Keith Law (subs. req’d) ranked Bickford as the 20th and 55th best prospect in the draft in their latest rankings, respectively. For what it’s worth, Law says Bickford is part of the crop of prep pitchers the Yankees have had their eye on in recent weeks in his latest mock draft. The Bombers have three first round picks (26th, 32nd, 33rd) and are in a position to gamble on risky arms, but Bickford’s lack of a second pitch really scares me. He could come out of college as a top ten pick in a few years, but dropping seven figures and first rounder on a kid with no breaking ball is a big roll of the dice. The Yankees have had some success teaching curveballs over the years, but they definitely can’t teach this kind of hard, riding fastball.