This week’s installment of Draft Tracker focuses on a quartet of pitchers that were viewed as projectable during the summer showcase season and have begun to make good on that projection with strong showings this spring.
Brady Aiken, lhp, Cathedral Catholic, San Diego
Aiken entered the spring ranked as the top prep lefthander in the class and the second prep pitcher, behind righthander Tyler Kolek. With arguably the best command in the prep ranks, two offspeed pitches that showed at least above-average potential and a clean, easy delivery, Aiken offered everything desirable except for above-average velocity. The Team USA star was mostly 88-91 on the showcase circuit, touching 93 at the Perfect Game All-American Classic. But Aiken has come out strong this spring, running his fastball up to 94-97 mph in a scrimmage and sitting 91-94, touching 95 in his second start.
“I think this is what we were all kind of waiting for,” an American League area scout said. “We always knew he could pitch, but he’s just come out with that velocity, sitting in that 92-93 range and has been up to 97. He looks physically stronger. He showed you all three pitches. He also broke out that changeup. He was pitching in and out, down at the knees—it was everything you wanted to see. You just walked away going, ‘geez.’ I would say he’s definitely in the mix for the top five picks.”
Although his breaking ball showed plus potential with great shape last summer, his increased hand speed has added power to the offering, which has flashed at least plus potential. Aiken has added strength to his large, angular 6-foot-3 frame. The UCLA commit has struck out 20 of the 31 hitters (65 percent) he has faced in 8 2/3 innings against 2 walks. He ranked No. 8 on BA’s overall Top 30 draft prospects list in our Early Draft Preview in February, and he has managed to improve his already robust stock.
Spencer Adams, rhp, White County HS, Cleveland, Ga.
One of the most athletic pitchers in the country, Adams is making the jump evaluators expected and more growth is expected the farther away he gets from basketball season. A standout four-year letterman as a basketball player who is capable of throwing down dunks, Adams is a long, loose and lean athlete at 6-foot-3, 171 pounds with a high, trim waist and long limbs. He turned in his best outing of the season on Tuesday when he struck out 14. His fastball, which was 89-92 and touched 93 at its best on the showcase circuit, was 90-95 on Tuesday. Adams has a loose, quick and compact arm action from a three-quarters arm slot and the ball jumps out of his hand. He produces plus fastball life with downhill plane and heavy sink when on top of the ball.
Last summer, he showed a mid-80s slider with average potential that he would sometimes get on the side of, causing it to flatten. But the offering has taken a significant step forward this spring, showing at least above-average potential.
“He was up to 95 on Tuesday and his fastball life was at least a 60,” an NL scout said. “He has jumped up there pretty nicely. The slider was a 55 to 60. I saw a slurvy slider over the summer but last night he had the slider going most of the time. It was just unhittable. When he uses the changeup it is really good. He is at least a No. 3 starter. It wouldn’t surprise me if he became a No. 2. He hasn’t been out of basketball that long. As the weather continues to warm up so will he.”
Adams has shown strong feel for his changeup, which is also at least an above-average offering, flashing higher. He showed a 76-78 mph curveball that was his fourth offering toward the end of the summer, but he has not thrown the offering in game action this spring.
The Georgia commit’s athleticism makes him a strike-thrower with the potential for at least above-average command. Adams is in the mix to go in the top two rounds and could continue to vault higher with more development. Scouts can dream big on Adams because of his athleticism, upside and strike-throwing ability.
Foster Griffin, lhp, The First Academy, Orlando
Griffin has gotten much stronger, seen his velocity tick up and his curveball sharpen. The 6-foot-3 lefty has a tall, lean and athletic build with long extremities and began the showcase circuit at 185 pounds. Griffin has added significant strength throughout the summer and offseason and reportedly weighs 210 pounds this spring. This additional strength has caused his velocity to increase. Griffin was mostly 88-91 and touched 92 on the showcase circuit but has been 89-93 this spring, touching 94 from a high three-quarters slot that creates arm-side run and sink.
In the early stages of the summer, Griffin’s glove extension went toward the first-base dugout and did not allow him to direct all of his momentum toward the plate, causing him to be too closed out front. Although Griffin has a loose, easy arm action, it showed length in the back and caused him to struggle to get on top of his breaking ball. These factors made his curveball an inconsistent and mostly below-average offering with soft tilt. But his delivery has been more streamlined and the curveball has sharpened to an average potential offering.
“You always liked the body and the arm,” a National League scout said. “But he has gotten stronger and the velocity has come with it. With his long arm swing I wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to throw an average curveball. It was below-average last summer but it has shown the ability to be at least an average pitch this spring. And he has always had a good changeup.”
The velocity of his curveball has increased by a few ticks up to 75-76 mph. His changeup has at least slightly above-average potential, flashing plus. Griffin’s more consistent arm action has improved his strike-throwing ability, giving him the potential for at least average command. The Ole Miss commit will travel to Cary, N.C., next week for the National High School Invitational and could factor into the top two rounds of the draft.
Keith Weisenberg, rhp, Osceola High, Seminole, Fla.
One of the most projectable arms in the class, Weisenberg, has made developmental strides with his offspeed stuff this spring and has gotten stronger since the showcase circuit.
The long-limbed 6-foot-4, 190-pound Weisenberg exemplifies projectable with an extra-large frame, lanky build and sloped shoulders atop a high, trim waist. An above-average athlete, Weisenberg throws as easily as nearly any high school pitcher from his full arm circle and high three-quarters slot. He looks like he is playing catch and the ball jumps out of his hand. Weisenberg was mostly 89-92 mph and touched 93 on the showcase circuit before making a velocity jump last fall, throwing 91-94 mph at the Florida Diamond Club. His velocity throughout this spring is comparable to what it was on the showcase circuit and evaluators expect it to increase leading up to the draft.
The 18-year-old Weisenberg pitches off his fastball, which has plus life with downhill plane and arm-side run. His breaking ball has steadily improved since the start of the showcase circuit. It was a fringy offering early in the summer and showed average potential at East Coast Pro. The pitch has touched the mid-80s this spring and shows the makings of an above-average to plus offering with improved late tilt.
Weisenberg’s low-80s changeup shows average potential, though he tends to slow on the offering.
The ease of Weisenberg’s delivery could enable at least above-average control, as he fills up the zone with fastballs to both sides of the plate. Weisenberg has some elements of his delivery that could be refined. He can land on a stiff front leg, not get over his front side and spin to the first base side.
Weisenberg is committed to Stanford.
“He is a big kid with a loose, easy arm and there is a lot to like,” a National League scout said. “He hasn’t really made the velocity jump but he didn’t make a jump last year until the fall. He could come on strong toward the end. But the offspeed stuff has really improved.”