2004 MLB Draft Preview: RHP, Jay Rainville

There are pitchers galore available in this year's MLB Amateur Draft as a pitching thirsty league looks to reload on some fresh young arms for their ever important future. Who might some of these arms be that should go in the first round of the 2004 draft? Let's take a look at one of these young guns, High School pitcher, Jay Rainville. <b>(Free Preview of Premium Content)</b>

Vital Statistics:
Name: Jay Rainville
DOB: October 16, 1985
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 230
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Place of Residence: Warwick, Rhode Island
High School: Bishop Hendricken High School

Jay Rainville is highly touted, entering this 2004 MLB Amateur Draft, as not only one of the top high school prospects in the nation but also one of the best overall draft prospects this year. He, along with some others, have tended to be overlooked due to the presence of several college pitchers that seem to draw more attention and notoriety from scouts even though high schoolers like Rainville may possess better talent. Scouts have been dazzled by this Rhode Island native's rare power arm to go along with his superb mound presence, deep repertoire and good control and expect him to be a future dominant type starter at the professional level. Despite the fact that he has already signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Tennessee for the 2005 season, there is no reason to believe that Rainville wouldn't jump at the chance to get drafted and sign with a Major League team.

It has been an absolute joy ride for Jay Rainville thus far and throughout his high school career. In his junior campaign, Rainville averaged nearly 17 strikeouts per game for Bishop Hendricken High School as he completely overpowered any and all of his opposition. "Jay was fantastic again," Hendricken coach Ed Holloway said of one of his ace's outings in an interview with the Providence Journal. "He has just dominated all year long." He opened the eyes of scouts and coaches throughout the northeastern United States as a junior but it was the summer of that 2003 season that sent him over the top from high school pitcher to future star.

Like many amateur prospects around the country, Rainville attended a national showcase. This one was the annual 2003 East Coast National Showcase in Wilmington, North Carolina. Rainville would be up against some of the top up and coming talent in the land but did not miss a beat as far as pitching dominance is concerned. The first thing that scouts noticed was that in the face of one of the best hitter at the showcase, Mike Taylor, Rainville showed no fear and that he was more than up to the task. This is what Taylor had to say in in an interview with Baseball America about his encounter with the hard throwing right hander. "Rainville was throwing consistently 93-95, topped out around 97. "(Rainville) threw the 99 mile an hour one right under my chin. That was a new experience for me. He threw about two 95 miles per hour, painting the outside corner so I started to look out that way, thinking 'fastball-react' and I'm kind of diving out over the plate a little bit and the next thing I know I'm lying on my back. I guess that's what good pitchers do, so I have respect for it. I was just praying it didn't hit me in the face." Rainville not only survived his battle with perhaps the best hitter at the showcase but overpowered him and was even able to install fear in him. Commenting on his performance while speaking with the Providence Journal, the young right hander had to say this. "I did really well down there," Rainville said. "That kind of put me on the map for colleges and the scouts. "This is something that is obviously very rare for a pitcher of this level and it will set him apart from most other pitchers of his age. Rainville would carry this over into his senior year, 2004, at Bishop Hendricken High School as he would dominate and continue to elevate his draft stock.

This season, Rainville has scouts traveling from miles around to attend his small high school games in Warwick, Rhode Island and has shown even more improvement from his prior season. "There were a lot of scouts there," said Rainville in an interview with the Providence Journal. "That's when I started getting noticed and the letters started coming." Even though he showed a mass of talent in his junior year, scouts did look for him to make some improvements and he passed the scouts test with flying colors. Here is what Rainville had to say about the adjustments he made. "They liked the way I adjusted my curveball. I started off throwing it 69-70 when I was warming up in the bullpen, which is a little slow. But when I got out in the game, it was 74-75. They were impressed on how quickly I could adjust after working with a pro scout in the bullpen," he said. With the adjustments he has made, the Bishop Hendricken ace has only gotten better and has widened his scope on either an excellent college opportunity of the pros.

Their will be no shortage of options for this 18 year old Rhode Island native as this, his 2004 high school baseball season comes to a close. He will have the option of attending college or accepting an offer from an MLB organization and going pro. "If the opportunity is there, I will go," said Rainville of his draft possibilities. "I have to have a good year here in order to get drafted," Rainville said about the current high school season. "I've got to get it done here before I can play for them (the pros)," he said before the season began. "I just have to stay grounded. You can't go our there and try to do too much. You have to stay within yourself," Rainville said, who frequently speaks with fellow Bishop Hendricken product, Rocco Baldelli about his future. Rainville grew up dreaming of Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park and understands the possibilities that lay ahead for him. "Baseball America did a mock draft last summer, and I was selected 18th by the White Sox," said Rainville. Whether it is the White Sox or any other team in baseball, Rainville will be drawing a lot of attention in this year's MLB Draft.

Repertoire. Fastball, Three-finger changeup, Curveball.

Fastball. Jay Rainville has often been described as having a true "power arm". He has a fastball that is consistently in the mid to upper 90's with an average speed of about 94 MPH. Has learned to locate his fastball very well and use it in many different ways to get a hitter out. Much like the two men he is most often compared to, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling, Rainville is not afraid at all to come inside on a hitter or for that matter, even knock a hitter down if necessary. Throws the fastball with tremendous ease and shows no sign of laboring when on the mound. Breaks bats on a regular basis with his heavy heater. Has a smooth, easy motion and the heater gets on the hitters very quickly as he comes through his windup very slowly and the baseball explodes out of his hand. Uses his size to his advantage with his fastball. With this pitch, he has great strikeout potential.

Other Pitches. Everything works off of Jay Rainville's explosive fastball but he does have two other well refined pitches to back it up. Rainville has developed a fine curveball since his junior year and impressed scouts with the fact that he was able to improve upon it. While it is not a dominating pitch, it is more than enough to help keep the hitter off balance and change his eye level which Rainville can do so well. Rainville's three finger changeup is another pitch that has basically the same purpose but can be very effective coming out of his hand. Does not give away his arm speed and utilizes the change very well. Can work the corners with both of his off speed pitches with great regularity and consistency.

Pitching. Jay Rainville is a power pitcher, no question about it and that is the style of pitching that will catapult him to the next level. He has a very professional and polished approach at each hitter that steps to the plate. He has absolutely no fear and will frequently come inside to push a hitter of the plate. In fact, he has coined his catch phrase on his high school teams as "The Art of Pitching is installing fear". He will use that at any point to gain control over the outer half of the plate and keep a hitter from diving out to reach the off speed pitches much like a Roger Clemens type would do. Has excellent control and will pain the corners, and set you up for a brush back pitch inside or a strikeout. Utilizes the curve and changeup to get the hitter way out after coming at him with the heat. Comes from a high 3/4 arm slot that becomes deceptive for a hitter and the ball seems to explode out of his hand. Deceives hitters with his smooth, slow motion. A genuine, young strikeout pitcher.

Projection. At this point, as only a high school pitcher, it is extremely difficult to predict what this young pitcher with a sky high potential future will end up as years down the road. However, from the skills that he has showcased, it is fairly safe to say that Rainville projects to be a frontline type of starter with dominating stuff. From what it looks like from the early signs that scouts have seen from him, it appears that he has potentially dominating, ace type stuff and is a pure, old-fashioned strikeout type of pitcher.

Comparison. Curt Schilling. The similarities between these two are nearly endless and scouts and coaches even are calling him the next Curt Schilling. These two are both around the same height and are built very similarly. Their windups are almost identical. Schilling and Rainville are the stereotypical strikeout, power pitchers that can strike out a hitter at any point in the ballgame if necessary. The fastballs of these two are very close in velocity and locations and are used as their primary pitch. Rainville has an approach to pitching that is also very much alike that of Schilling's and both have a good feel of how to pitch.

Draft Possibilities. The draft scenario could pan out in several different ways for this young right hander, Jay Rainville. As already mentioned, the Chicago White Sox are a possible landing point for Rainville but other teams showing interest include the New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics. But, almost any team could be in the hunt for this Rhode Island rocket.

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