BLUF: Mid-rotation starter with two projected plus pitches and potential to go mid-first round.
The Player: Michael Wacha (RHP, Texas A&M) – 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA in six starts this spring. He has allowed 26 hits in 40 innings with eight walks and 47 strikeouts. Completed his sophomore season (2011) with a 9-4 record in 19 starts. Again allowed less than a hit per inning and struck out nearly a batter per inning over 129 2/3 innings. He earned All-American honors following his 2011 season. As a freshman Wacha posted yet another sub-3.00 ERA with a 2.90 mark in 105 2/3 innings. He allowed 86 hits and 22 walks while striking out 97 batters, earning Freshman All-American honors.
Basis of Report: Industry Contacts
Body (6-6, 215): Tall with very long legs and long arms. Added thickness and strength in legs over the last year. Still very thin in the upper torso and arms. Solid athlete that moves well and has good balance.
Delivery/Mechanics: Lots of arms and legs throughout delivery, adds some deception. Arm works very well. Consistent release point despite long levers, indicating good coordination. Shortens his landing foot at times, jerking him to a stop and forcing him to miss up. When he extends he works down the mound with good angle to the plate. Good follow through with extension and a slight fall away from center at the finish.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 94, Low – 89, Average – 90-92, Grade – 50/60
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 93, Low 89, Average 90-92, Grade – 50/60
Fastball (FB) Movement: Excellent angle to the plate. Flashes occasional sink that can induce weak contact. Also shows occasional boring action with four-seamer, particularly when up in the zone. Ball appears to jump at hitters because of his length and extended release point. Grade – 40/50
Overall Fastball: Legitimate above-average velocity. Believe professional instruction can coax consistent plus velocity out of him. Good extension and angle make his FB tough to barrel. Sum of the parts make it a potential plus pitch. Grade – 50/60
Slider (SL): Lacks consistent breaking ball. Occasional short, sharp slider with largely horizontal movement; similar to a cutter. Lacks feel for locating the pitch or showing consistent ability to spin the ball. Occasional flashes make you believe its in there, but he doesn’t trust it. Needs to just let it fly and snap it off. Grade – 30/40
Change-up (CH): Excellent arm action and speed. Good deception throughout delivery. Looks just like the FB. Lacks movement but plus-plus differential in speed and sets it up well. Works low and can move to both sides of the plate. Grade – 50/60
Control: Controls long levers well and has consistent release point. Consistent strike thrower. Solid athlete with repeatable delivery and projection for plus control. Grade – 50/60
Command: Shows intermittent average command, particularly when trying to work up and down the ladder. Doesn’t always locate to the edges of the strike zone and needs to develop willingness to come inside with confidence. Strike-throwing ability, delivery and athleticism lend to command projection with additional work and instruction. Grade – 30/50
Summation: Potential for two plus pitches (FB and CH) with command of both. Relies too heavily on FB at times, at least in part because he lacks trust in the SL (or any breaking ball). Development of SL to even a “show-me” pitch would add another element to his game and allow him to become more refined in his pitch sequencing ability to work through a lineup. Works hard during his starts, doesn’t get rattled and shows little emotion on the mound. With two plus pitches and command, chance to be a solid number three starter. With an added SL that can be relied upon regularly, slim potential to be a low-end number two starter.
Relative Risk: Moderate. Two-pitch college pitcher that will be expected to move quickly. Still requires refinement with breaking ball and command, both of which could slow him and also limit his ceiling if they don’t develop.
Draft Projection: Mid- to late-first round pick, possibly slightly higher with a strong finish this spring and to a team that believes they can coax more of his long, lean body.