School: Harvard-Westlake School, North Hollywood, California
Selected 2014 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Message board community (6): With Jack Flaherty, the community was all about upside and comparing him to his draft partner, Luke Weaver. Flaherty entered the pre-vote discussion as early as #2, with support from MagnoliaCardFan. MagnoliaCardFan believes that Flaherty had cleaner stats than Weaver and has more upside. Freshjmm also likes Flaherty's upside, and agrees that Flaherty will be a better pitcher than Weaver in the long run. CardsInChitown echoed freshjmm's sentiment on Flaherty’s comparative upside.
Like a lot of us, TSimmons says he doesn't yet have any insight on Flaherty at all. LouisEu can't understand why Weaver would be ranked below Flaherty after only a few innings pitching at Class A-Advanced Palm Beach. Scadder21 thinks that Flaherty has a much longer way to go than Weaver, but still likes the former more as a prospect. - Jeremy Byrd
Derek Shore: Flaherty received the largest bonus of any Cardinals selection in this past June’s amateur draft. The pick was compensation for the loss of free agent Carlos Beltran the winter before. The Cardinals are once again rolling the dice on a high-upside prep pitcher, who debuts on The Cardinal Nation’s prospect rankings at number six.
Dominating in the Gulf Coast League, Flaherty was at first eased into action and impressed. He struck out 28 batters to four walks, and opponents only hit .209/.269/.314 against him in his 22-inning professional debut.
About Flaherty, TCN’s Gulf Coast League Cardinals local reporter Paul Ivice wrote, “The 18-year-old right-hander has a strong, athletic body on a 6-foot-4 frame with an 89-92 mph fastball, a slider, curveball and changeup. Flaherty was an impressive two-way player as a pitcher and a fast, strong-hitting infielder at the Perfect Game USA showcase, but says he likes the control of a game he gets as a starting pitcher.”
Ivice interviewed Cardinals minor league pitching coordinator Tim Leveque, who had this to say about Flaherty.
“He was a polished high school pitcher, composed and mature for his age,” said Leveque, who like Flaherty also grew up in California’s San Fernando Valley. “He’s even-keeled and in control, confident.” Leveque said. Flaherty’s slider is his best secondary pitch, ahead of his curve or change, but at this point in his career he will be allowed to develop both breaking pitches, Leveque told Ivice.
It is hard to say what the Cardinals have with Flaherty until he faces more appropriate levels of competition and logs some more innings under his belt, but here is hope. After Rob Kaminsky’s jump to the Midwest League in his second pro season, there is certainly a pathway for Flaherty to do the same thing - depending on how much of an impression he leaves in the spring.
Brian Walton (7): There is no doubt at this early stage of his career that Flaherty’s placement in this top 40 is potential-based. It is true, however, that the tall right-hander did nothing in his debut but increase anticipation for what could be his first full season ahead in 2015.
Taken 34th overall in the draft, Flaherty had already committed to the University of North Carolina. Though he was set to go there, talking with the Cardinals helped change his mind.
“Once I got picked, we kind of figured things out really quickly,” Flaherty told me this fall. “There wasn’t a lot of debate or negotiations to go on. It was a pretty smooth process. I was thankful that it was pretty smooth.”
It appears that 100 innings in total was the amount the Cardinals had settled on for Flaherty’s workload in his age 18 season.
“I threw about 78 (innings) or so during my high school season,” Flaherty recalled. “In the GCL, they kind of limited my innings early on, built me up a little bit and extended out a little bit at the end.”
Though he started out with one or two-inning stints, by his last three starts, he threw four, four and five innings, respectively. It was important to see the right-hander perform a second time through lineups.
As one would expect, Flaherty was more focused on learning than racking up numbers in Florida.
“Stats are going to be stats - it is all based on results,” he said. “When I went out there, I felt good. My stuff felt good. It was just about developing my pitches, reading hitters more and being able to learn the game and tendencies of hitters and being able to understand what was going on and what they were trying to do. I thought I went out there and did well.”
Flaherty told me that in the fall instructional league, his priorities were to further develop his slider and changeup. In terms of fastball velocity, the right-hander thinks there is improvement ahead as well.
“It has been anywhere from 88 to 92,” he confirmed. “In the GCL, that is right where it was. I feel like there is more velo definitely to come. I’ve just got to be able to keep working on my command, keeping in the zone and attacking hitters.”
Some players set very specific goals for the upcoming season. Others, like Flaherty, let the chips fall where they may.
“I am just going to go out and do what I do,” he said. “Just have fun and enjoy the year wherever they put me. If I get moved up, I get moved up. If I get moved down, I get moved down. It is just about going out and not really expecting too much, not putting too much pressure on myself, enjoying myself like I always have.”
Pretty much summarizing the feelings of everyone who has heard about him, Flaherty concluded our discussion by saying, “I just want to go out there and play the game.”
We all want to see him in action in 2015. The open question is whether it will be Peoria in April or if the organization will move more slowly with him. Flaherty’s performance on the back fields of Jupiter in March may hold the key.
Our 2015 top 40 series continues: To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 40 countdown and nine in-depth, follow-up articles. Most of the latter are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation.
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