SYRACUSE — The East Coast Professional Showcase has seen plenty of pitchers over the years who were not high picks (or went undrafted) out of high school, but went significantly higher out of college and then reached the big leagues.
Guys like Justin Verlander, David Price, Paul Maholm, Alex White, Mike Minor, Adam Warren and Eric Surkamp all fit this description.
Righthander Andy Ravel from Wilson High in West Lawn, Pa., doesn’t have the strength yet to grind through a professional season—though a lot can change between now and draft day. Right now, Ravel has a thin build at 6-foot-1 and 165 pounds and he throws his fastball in the 85-87 mph range.
Growing up in Pennsylvania, Ravel is a Phillies fan, so he said it was exciting for him to put on their uniform, as they’re the team sponsoring the Northeast players this year.
“You’re always watching the games with your dad or brother and your family and you’re like, ‘I really wish I could put on that jersey and play one day.’ And now I have that opportunity,” Ravel said. “It’s not the Phillies Phillies, but it’s a step toward the Phillies and it feels pretty exciting.”
Even without present strength and fastball velocity, the Kent State recruit does a lot of things that scouts like to see. He showed good athleticism and a loose, repeatable delivery. Ravel only threw one inning on Aug. 2, but threw a lot of strikes and showed feel for four pitches—his fastball, a 73-74 mph curveball, a 78-79 mph slider and a 78 mph changeup.
“I took command of my fastball, showed that early and matched them up with it,” Ravel said. “I’m not a hard thrower, but I’ll get it up there to where, if I throw my offspeed, my fastball will look harder than it is. So I started guys off with a fastball and just went from there.”
Ravel said he throws both a two-seam and four-seam fastball and is working to add another pitch to his repertoire.
“I’ve been working on a cutter, to give me something to keep hitters off balance,” Ravel said. “That’s the main key for a pitcher—keeping hitters off balance. That’s what I’m working on right now. I just got my two-seam under control where I can throw that for a strike. I have four or five pitches now, which I feel is pretty good to keep hitters off balance.”
Speaking of keeping hitters off balance, Ravel likes to work at breakneck speed on the mound.
“I get my own little rhythm out there,” Ravel said. “I don’t like when batters call timeout and all that stuff. I like to get the ball and go. That also keeps my infielders and outfielders in the game too. I’m also an infielder, so I know what it’s like to sit back there where a pitcher will step off and shake and do all that stuff.”
Ravel even struck a batter out by dropping a curveball in for a called strike three as the batter was still getting ready.
“He was still digging in, but he didn’t have his hand up and the umpire gave me the go sign,” Ravel said. “And when I see the go sign, I go.”