Radar Love

Today’s mailbag deals with hard-throwers, but first let me pass along a note about one hard-thrower that has been shut down for the season. Oklahoma ace Stephen Porlier, who missed the first four weeks of the season with shoulder inflammation, had surgery to repair a partial tear in the labrum in his right shoulder. Oklahoma’s junior righthander went 7-5, 4.18 with 99 strikeouts in 99 innings last year after transferring from Tulane. He didn’t sign after being drafted in the 21st round as an eligible sophomore by the Athletics.

"I want to commend the doctors and Stephen’s family in handling this situation in an efficient manner," Oklahoma coach Sunny Golloway said. "The surgery was successful and Stephen is expected to make a full recovery. We look forward to having him back for next season."

On to this week’s mailbag:

Aaron, I was just curious in your opinion who do you think are the prospects with the best velocity in college?

Sean H.

San Diego State sophomore righthander Stephen Strasburg has touched 101 mph this year according to some sources, though other scouts who were at the same game dispute this account. Regardless, he’s one of the nation’s premier flamethrowers, but he’s not draft-eligible. The 2008 draft crop is chock full of power arms who can light up radar guns, so let’s take a look at some of the prospects for this year’s draft who top 95 mph.

The best radar-gun readings we’ve heard from scouts this spring include Pepperdine righthander Brett Hunter, who is generally regarded as the hardest thrower in the draft (though he’s missed the last two weekends with a blister and some resulting forearm soreness). In his first start, his fastball sat in the 94-97 range, and he touched 99 this past fall. Arizona righty Ryan Perry topped out at 97-98 in the Cape and has sat in the 94-96 range as a starter this spring. Vandy righty Brett Jacobson has worked in the 93-95 range in relief. 

I’ve seen Kent State righty Chris Carpenter touch 96 this spring, and Fresno State’s Tanner Scheppers sitting in the 93-95 range; he has touched 97 in the past. Missouri righty Aaron Crow also touched 98 in a short stint last summer and has sat around 95 as a starter this spring, including in his start in San Diego, where I caught him and Scheppers. Mississippi righty Cody Satterwhite has flirted with triple digits in the past, but he’s been sitting in the 91-93 range as a starter this spring, routinely running his fastball up to 94 and touching 96 occasionally, according to Ole Miss assistant Rob Reinstetle. 

Among relievers, two of the hardest throwers include Louisiana Tech righty Luke Burnett, who worked in the 96-98 range last summer in the Cape Cod League, and Mississippi State righty Aaron Weatherford, who has been up to 97 as a closer but has been sidelined recently by shoulder soreness.

Many of those pitchers come with unanswered questions about command, durability or secondary stuff, but nonetheless it’s an intriguing group of power arms.