Miami/Florida Underclassmen Pitchers

Kiley shares some follow reports on the slew of notable underclassmen arms from Miami vs. Florida.

The Florida-Miami series had more than it's share of talent. I put up a number of videos, with scouting reports following those videos. Here's a list of who I've written up so far: Saturday UM-UF Notes, Florida RHP Karsten Whitson, Florida RHP Ryan Harris, Miami LHP Andrew Suarez & Miami LHP Bryan Radziewski.

It already looks like the Gators are taking some of the advice I give below, as the four-game tournament weekend in Gainesville has the Gators starting Shore and Puk in the first and last games.

Florida sophomore RHP Eric Hanhold relieved freshman righty Brett Morales on the first two Saturdays of the season, but I think Hanhold will step into the rotation soon, for reasons I note in Morales' section below. Hanhold has good size but the length to his arm action will affect his command and consistency at times. The starter traits are here with a clean delivery and three average or better pitches. Over two appearances Saturday and Sunday, Hanhold worked 88-92 and hit 93 mph with a mid-80's slider and changeup both showing solid-average potential. The 6'5/195 righty projects as a back-end starter and is already on a Cape Cod League roster for this summer; I'd put him in the 3rd-5th round as a solid follow.

Florida freshman LHP/1B A.J. Puk was the most pleasant surprise on the mound of this weekend. I knew he was a high profile guy as a two-way prep talent in Iowa and wasn't going to be an easy sign, but part of the reason he didn't get the bonus he was asking for was his velocity dipped into the high-80's last spring. I heard rumors he was throwing harder this spring and those were correct, as the 6'7/230 lefty worked 93-94 mph in a quick Sunday appearance. He also threw a couple above average 84-86 hard sliders with downer curveball shape that may be plus down the road. If you click on his name, you can see the video I posted from Scout Day of him taking BP. Puk's size will create some contact issues at the plate, but he has plus lefty raw power and is an easy top 3 round follow for the 2016 draft. He has more potential on the mound right now and has a real chance to go in the first round.

Florida freshman RHP Logan Shore has some buzz late last spring as a command righty that was 87-89 mph over the summer but had gotten in the 90's once the snow had cleared in Minnesota. Like Puk, Shore's bonus price tag wasn't met and the Gators once again went outside of the state to recruit and found a gem. I can see why MLB clubs were a little wary of committing big money to Shore as his arm action is a little long and he isn't very projectable at 6'1/210. That said, Shore still has a chance to project as a starter in pro ball, especially if he can lock down a rotation spot as a freshman, to get deep into meaningful games against advanced hitters early in his career. Shore sat 90-93 for multiple innings in relief on Sunday with above average life, backing his heater up with two solid average off-speed pitches at 78-80 mph: a curveball and changeup. He's yet another solid 2016 draft follow that I'll put a 3rd-4th round grade on.

Florida freshman RHP Brett Morales started Saturday and I have a lot of history with him (click on his name for previous content) as a high school senior from my hometown Tampa area. He tailed off last year before the draft as his curveball and command deserted him, but he regularly hit 93 or 94 mph and showed and a lot of confidence in his above average changeup. That's still mostly the case now, as he only threw a couple curveballs in the game; they were both at least average and I've seen an above average one multiple times from him, but you can tell he doesn't trust the pitch yet.

The biggest difference for Morales was velocity; he was sitting 89-92 mph last year and worked 87-90 mph on Saturday. His margin for error with command was low due to a below average fastball and no reliable third pitch. Morales is maxed-out physically at 6'0/205 and has some effort to his delivery. I was talking to some scouts about him at the game and we agreed his career could still go in a lot of directions. I'll toss a 4th-6th round follow for the 2016 draft on him, but this could still range anywhere from 1st round to senior sign or Juco transfer due to the deep Florida staff.

Florida freshman RHP Dane Dunning is a guy I have a little less history with, only seeing him just before and after his prep senior season at big showcase/tournament events. He's got projection at 6'3/190 and should keep throwing harder, but I really don't like how he throws across his body as it creates undue stress on the shoulder. Dunning checks all the boxes for a projection arm, as he should put on another 10-20 pounds, has long limbs, a loose delivery and is a good athlete with a clean arm action. He's been 88-90 mph every time I've seen him and Dunning's breaking ball is inconsistent as a 76-79 mph 3/4 slurve, but has average to above potential when he stays on top of it. I've also seen a usable changeup at 77-79 mph, so, like Shore, Dunning's success could hinge on getting regular work as a starter to work some of this out (and adding a tick or two to his fastball won't hurt). I'll put Dunning just behind Shore in the 4th-5th round area for 2016.

Florida freshman LHP Tyler Deel is another guy I've only seen briefly, like Dunning, and only a few times in bigger tournament/showcase settings. As a 6'5/190 lefty with some athleticism and low-effort delivery, we're talking about another premium projection type. His upside is limited a bit due to the wrist cock in the back of his arm action that can affect command and his lower arm slot (3/4) that limits the plane he can get from his height. That said, if Deel gets a couple ticks more velocity, those things become less important. He worked in a lefty matchup role on Saturday night, sitting 88-90 mph with a 76-78 mph slurve with 3/4 tilt that was average to above. Deel's growth may be stunted by being on a really deep staff and only being used in short stints that play up use of his curveball, rather than pitching as a starter, which will obviously be cutthroat given all the candidates mentioned just in this article. Deel was much lower profile than Morales in high school and even Dunning, but I think they're all comparable prospects at this point, so I'll peg Deel as a 4th-6th round follow.

Florida also ran out a few more notable arms, but not quite as notable from a scouting perspective: sophomore LHP Danny Young (6'2 lefty sat 87-90 mph with an average slider and a clean delivery), freshman RHP Frank Rubio (5'11 righty sat 87-89 with an average slider), sophomore RHP Jay Carmichael (skinny 6'2 righty was 88-90 mph in a very short stint but has shown promise akin to those arms mentioned above) and freshman LHP Kirby Snead (lefty has arm slot just above sidearm, worked 85-87 mph). Freshman RHP Shaun Anderson (87-90 mph hard cutter, above average slurve and average changeup in high school) pitched the previous week and could've been saved for a more permanent midweek role, while one of the freshman arms with the most buzz this fall, LHP Scott Moss (projectable 6'6 lefty was rumored to be into the mid-90's this fall after sitting 88-91 with a solid-average curve in high school) hasn't pitched yet this season, but it sounds like he's a little banged up.

The Hurricanes were using draft-eligible starters deep into all three games, but Miami leaned heavily on freshman closer RHP Bryan Garcia on Friday and Saturday. I wasn't in the building for his Friday appearance, but scouts tell me he sat 91-94 mph for two innings, while he was understandably gassed for his inning Saturday when he sat 89-91 mph. Garcia's fastball had above average cut at times, in part due to his crossfire delivery (which I've mentioned above that I don't like, especially for young arms). He's maxed-out physically and only topped out in the low 90's in high school, so this new velocity is a nice surprise for the Hurricanes, who desperately needed some depth to their bullpen and now have a new closer. I didn't see a breaking ball on the Saturday night outing, but Garcia threw a few 3/4 breaking balls in warmups that were at least average, so that's enough to project as a middle reliever in pro ball, in the 5th-6th round area for now.

Miami also used freshman RHP Cooper Hammond (submariner worked 78-80 mph), senior LHP A.J. Salcines (experienced lefty sat 86-90 mph with a solid average changeup), and sophomore LHP Thomas Woodley (6'3 lefty has very clean, athletic delivery, above average changeup and life to his fastball, but only throws 83-85 mph and may need to drop his arm slot to be a pro prospect).

Rays Digest Top Stories