Continuing to fill an organization need, the Oakland A's selected three more right-handed starting pitchers with their third-, fourth- and fifth-round picks in the 2014 draft. Brett Graves (third round) joins A's second-round pick Daniel Gossett as a polished college starter who could move fairly quickly through the A's system. Jordan Schwartz (fourth round) and Heath Fillmyer (fifth round) are more raw than Graves, but both bring a lot of arm strength to the A's system.
Graves was a solid prospect out of high school and was selected in the 26th round in 2011 by the St. Louis Cardinals. The Missouri native stayed close to home and pitched collegiately for Missou. He was the Tigers' Friday night starter this season and was tested heavily in the baseball powerhouse SEC. In 14 starts, he posted a 3.87 ERA and a 64:18 K:BB in 93 innings.
Graves stands only 6'1'' and he weighs just 175, but he has a power arm. His fastball sits in the low-90s and can touch 96. He also has a solid slider and a developing change-up. Graves was a groundball pitcher for Missouri this year. Scout.com's National Baseball Analyst Kiley McDaniel scouted Graves this season and had this to say about him:
"I saw him at UF a few weeks back and he was 90-95, hitting 96 mph with occasional life, though he's thrown a little harder than that at times this spring. Graves has an above-average slider at 80-84 mph but it's inconsistent and often closer to average while his changeup flashes average to slightly above at 81-83 MPH but he doesn't use it much. Graves is mostly developed physically and his command is alright, but he has an ugly finish to his delivery that needs to be cleaned up to reach his upside of a 3/4 starter.
Below is video from that outing versus Florida.
While Graves spent his collegiate days pitching in the high-profile SEC, Schwartz plied his trade in the MAAC with Niagara University. A two-way player for Niagara, Schwartz hit .258 in 38 games as an outfielder, but the A's like him as a pitcher. The Hornell, New York, native had a 3.12 ERA and a 109:35 K:BB in 95.1 innings this season. He allowed just two homeruns.
Schwartz is still considered fairly raw, although he improved considerably in 2014. He is a good athlete who should continue to improve as a pitcher now that he will focus solely on pitching. His fastball has been clocked in the mid-90s and he has a change-up and a slider that are both in the developing stage.
Fillmyer is another excellent athlete who spent a lot of his collegiate career as a position player. A shortstop his freshman year at Mercer Junior College in New Jersey, Fillmyer threw just seven innings in 2013 but was still drafted as a pitcher in the 28th round of last year's draft by the Colorado Rockies. This season, he went 9-0 with a 0.68 ERA in 66 innings for Mercer. He struck-out 94. Long-time A's scout Chris Pittaro lives near where Fillmyer went to high school and junior college.
Despite being new to pitching, Fillmyer already has three pitches – a fastball that can touch 96, a sharp-breaking curveball and a change-up. Although he has a smaller frame (6'1'', 180), he held his velocity well and could still grow (he just turned 20 on May 16).
"[Fillmyer is an] athletic guy still a little new to pitching. He's 91-94, touching 96 with curveball that's 55 at times and enough changeup and command to project as starter, but still pretty raw," McDaniel said.