BLUF: Some of the best raw stuff and bloodlines in the draft, but pro role is in question.
The Player: Lance McCullers, Jr. (RHP, Jesuit HS) – Has dominated this spring, having not allowed an earned run as of mid-April. Long-time showcase circuit star that has faced plenty of top-notch competition. Father, Lance, pitched in the big leagues for seven years. Committed to the University of Florida
Basis of Report: Industry Contacts
Body (6-2, 195): Not overly physical. Has some natural strength. Average shoulder width with some strength/physical projection. Good athlete. Moves well and shows solid coordination for his age. Good bloodlines from his father and should settle in with similar physical stature.
Delivery/Mechanics: Simple lower half with consistent movements and good balance. Struggles with consistency in upper half; shows shoulder turn at times, while staying in line to the plate at others. Arm slot varies regularly. Excellent arm action with plus-plus arm speed. Drop and drive guy that pushes hard down the plane of the mound. Has effort in his delivery and has an inconsistent finish as a result. Looks down at the top of his delivery, losing his target. Would be helped by picking up his target sooner.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 98, Low – 92, Average – 94-96, Grade – 70/70
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 97, Low 92, Average 93-95, Grade – 60/70
Fastball (FB) Movement: Has natural life in the zone and can be difficult to square. Shows some arm-side run when his arm slot is lower, but also loses plane during these pitches. Overall average movement now with potential for plus movement if he can learn to impart movement when and where he wants to. Grade – 50/60
Overall Fastball: Easy projection for a plus-plus FB down the line. Pure velocity is hard to argue with and he has a slight chance to have an elite FB at his peak. Needs to maintain angle to the plate by keeping elevated arm slot. FB gives him a chance to be a big leaguer. Grade – 60/70
Curveball (CB): Occasional sharp CB with hard 12-6 break that can buckle knees and miss bats. Doesn’t throw regularly and lacks consistency as a result. Variation in arm angle impacts ability to spin quality CB. Will just spin up there at times without much movement/action. May be scrapped as a pro. Grade – 30/50
Slider (SL): Averages 84-86 mph. Really sharp two-plane break when it’s on. Throws very hard with plus-plus tight spin. Filthy, darting break that misses bats with ease. Potential well-above-average SL with devastating potential. Grade – 50/70
Change-up (CH): Willing to throw but lacks consistency. Has some feel for it and will flash an average CH at times. Good arm-side movement at its best. Will tip with a slower arm at times but typically has good arm speed and some deception. Some potential for third average pitch with more innings. Grade – 30/40
Control: Effort in delivery gives control problems. Struggles to throw any strikes at times. Can completely lose the zone when he overthrows and stops being a true pitcher. Has enough athleticism to improve mechanical consistency and repeat arm slot, likely leading to average control. Grade – 30/50
Command: Struggle to see even average command. Cannot locate any of his pitches, even when he dials his FB back. May develop below-average command as he matures. That could be enough if raw stuff is maintained long term. Grade – 20/40
Summation: Good bloodlines and good feel for the game for his age. Understands nuances of pitching but still shows as more of a thrower than a pitcher. Has depth of arsenal to be tried as a starter. May excel and move quickly as a reliever with two dominating power pitches. Needs improved control and needs to work on smaller parts of game (fielding, setting up hitters, etc.) to round out abilities. Mid-rotation potential with more control than command, or closer potential if moved to relief.
Relative Risk: High. Big time arm and plenty of raw stuff are negatively balanced by lack of control and questions about control.
Draft Projection: Easy first round pick on pure stuff, but may fall to back half of round because of questions about role in pro ball. A team that believes in his future as a starter could pull the trigger in the top 15 picks.