PASADENA, Calif.— Righthander Dylan Covey of Maranatha High School in Pasadena, Calif. enjoyed a sensational start to his 2010 spring season, recording 12 of 15 outs via strikeout in a game Friday night against Newbury Park High.
Covey, an Area Code Games participant and Aflac All-American, is ranked No. 4 on Baseball America's top 100 list of high school prospects for the June 2010 draft. Covey struck out the side in the first, second, third and fifth innings. Overall, in five innings of work, Covey allowed two unearned runs, walked one, hit a batter and allowed only one base hit. He departed after the top of the fifth inning with MHS leading, 3-2. Newbury Park eventually won the game, 6-3.
Friday night’s contest was played at scenic but aged Jackie Robinson Field, nestled within Brookside Park in Pasadena, only a few hundred yards from the Rose Bowl. To state it bluntly, Robinson Field needs updating. Observed one scout, “They could use a few more bulbs in those lights."
Covey’s pre-game bullpen warm-up session was a harbinger. Under a canopy of ancient, craggy eucalyptus trees, approximately 60 scouts watched as Covey pumped pitch after pitch into his catcher’s well-worn mitt. “Atta boy, get in a rhythm,” advised Covey’s pitching coach. “Drop it right in the hole."
Covey is one of the most distinctive pitching prospects seen in Southern California in many years. His flat-billed cap is pulled well down on his forehead, and his ill-fitting, low-slung uniform pants are an odd sight in relation to his enormous boat paddle pair of feet. In build and delivery, Covey resembles a lighter, younger version of Matt Cain.
Covey’s stuff is eye catching as well, but hard to connect with. His four-seam fastball pounds the strike zone at 93-94 mph. Amongst the scouts sitting near me, I heard whispers of 96. An 81-82 slider is Covey’s best secondary offering, exhibiting sharp, late, veering movement. Covey’s 83 change and 77 curve are not as advanced as his fastball and slider, but those pitches have plus potential also.
A Marantha parent engaged me in a brief conversation during the game. “That stuff is awfully hard for high schoolers to hit,” he said. I replied, “It would be awfully tough for big leaguers to hit.”
Mechanically, Covey is fairly sound for a high schooler. Like many power pitchers, he drives off the edge of the rubber with a small forward leap, his front shoulder elevated above his back shoulder. Covey finishes extremely well, doing an excellent job of getting out over his front foot. Scouts have two technical concerns with Covey: in his delivery backstroke, his arm wraps behind his right leg, and he has a tendency to pull his front shoulder out and open when tired.
Perhaps the only negative surrounding Covey is his frame. At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, he has commendably worked hard to improve his fitness. However, Covey does not possess the tall, lanky and projectable build scouts prefer in a righthanded high school pitcher. Despite that isolated issue, Covey profiles as a solid number two or three starter with the possibility of four plus pitches.
Jimmie Sherfy, a diminutive righty who has committed to the University of Oregon, opposed Covey on the mound Friday. With his shaggy blond hair and low three quarters delivery, Sherfy resembles a shorter version of Mark Fidrych—sans any personal conversations with a baseball.
Sherfy, whose father Brad is a golf professional, is unquestionably up to par. His fastball sits in the high 80s and can touch 90. Sherfy adds an excellent 77 curve, which he uses to torture righthanded hitters when he gets ahead in the count.
No doubt Sherfy pitched well, but Friday was Covey’s night to establish himself for big league scouts.
An American League crosschecker summed up Covey’s outing succinctly: “With all those guys out there, he did exactly what he had to do. He showed his stuff, hit his spots and dominated. You can’t ask for anything else."