SOUTH FLORENCE, S.C.—With North Carolina the heart of the scouting community last week and weekend, many high-level evaluators traveled on Monday to South Carolina for a showing of Conway (S.C.) High righthander Grant Holmes, one of the top high school arms.
Holmes, who had not pitched in 10 days, substantiated the early-spring reports that his secondary stuff had improved since the showcase circuit, with several scouting directors in attendance. The righthander struck out 16 of the 25 hitters he faced (64 percent) against two walks (eight percent) in a complete game versus South Florence (S.C.) High. Holmes garnered more than 20 swings and misses on his 99 pitches.
After running his fastball up to 97 in recent starts, Holmes touched 94 mph and 95 mph in the first inning, sitting 90-92 over extended innings, touching 93. Holmes pitched off his fastball, as 76 percent of his pitches were heaters. He worked from the third-base side of the rubber and the ball jumped out of his hand.
He has a heavy fastball with arm-side run and sink when on top. Monday he showed greater ability to pitch to his glove side after pitching more to his arm side on the showcase circuit. Holmes, who turned 18 the last week in March, had an impressive second inning, when he struck out the side on 10 pitches and eight straight strikes.
His 78-81 mph power breaking ball with considerable depth and abrupt tilt was a swing-and-missing offering on the day, and he commanded the pitch. Three-quarters of his 16 breaking balls went for strikes, garnering five swings and misses.
“He has the power to his curveball and he can shape it,” a National League scout said. “When it is on, look out. He doesn't abuse or overuse, but it was on last night. It is a plus breaking ball. It is an out pitch.”
The Florida commit also showed feel for his 84-86 mph changeup that showed at least above-average potential, flashing plus. Holmes had a standout sequence and showed his feel for the offering to end the fifth inning as he faced the lefthanded-hitting leadoff hitter, who had a hard, line-drive single to left field in his first plate appearance and a hard out to left in his second.
Holmes fell behind 2-0 on low, glove-side fastballs before throwing two straight changeup strikes and a third changeup for a ball. On a full count, Holmes struck out the leadoff hitter on a hammer 80 mph curveball that left scouts laughing.
The bottom of the order was no match for Holmes, as the Nos. 5 through 9 hitters combined to go 0-for-13 with 12 strikeouts.
This dominant performance was punctuated by a home run to center field by the lefthanded-hitting Holmes.
Although he has plus fastball life when down in the zone, Holmes often pitched up in the strike zone or above it, causing his fastball to somewhat flatten. But the strong-bodied, physical 6-foot Holmes did miss low and glove side more than he had in the past. Scouts hope to see more quality strikes from him moving forward.
“The thing that I liked the most was that when he struggles he can adjust and fight back,” the scout said. “He is fun to watch and about as good as they come. If he was about 6-foot-2 or taller we would be talking about him in a much higher spot.”
Former West Florence (S.C.) High righthander Akeem Bostick, a 2013 second-round pick, attended the game after being assigned to low Class A Hickory of the Rangers organization.