High School Top 100 Scouting Reports: Lefthanders

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This year's lefthanded high school class doesn't come close to matching last year's dynamic duo of Tyler Matzek and Matt Purke, but there are still several interesting arms and teams are always looking for lefthanded pitching. Here are scouting reports for the high school righthanders that made it onto Baseball America's Top 100 list. . .

Kevin Ziomek, lhp, Amherst (Mass.) Regional HS 27
Born: March 21, 1992. B-T: R-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 180. Commitment: Vanderbilt

Ziomek first started getting buzz with his showing at the Area Code Games, but really heated up after his performance at the World Wood Bat tournament in Jupiter, Fla. last October. Ziomek sat 90-91 mph with his fastball in Jupiter and even touched 93. He threw a sharp slider that he could locate for strikes, a 78 mph changeup and a loopy curveball that was more of of a show pitch to give hitters a different look.

Ziomek has an athletic frame with projection remaining, but his delivery has a little bit of funk to it. He hooks the ball behind his back leg before reaching his release point, but he's a smart, coachable player. Ziomek could be a tough sign away from his Vanderbilt commitment.

Jesse Biddle, lhp, Germantown Friends School, Philadelphia 31
Born: Oct. 22, 1991. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 225. Commitment: Oregon

Biddle has an ideal pitcher's frame—6-foot-4 and 225 pounds. His fastball presently sits in the 88-91 mph range, although considering his size and that he's from the Northeast, it wouldn't be surprising to see those numbers bumped up over the next few years.

Biddle gets good downhill plane on his fastball and also throws a slower curveball in the 66-68 mph range and a 77 mph changeup with some deception.

Biddle works quickly and repeats his delivery well for a player his size.

Jordan Shipers, lhp, South Harrison HS, Bethany, Mo. 41
Born: June 27, 1991. B-T: R-L. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 170. Commitment: Missouri State

Shipers was the player that got the most buzz at the World Wood Bat tournament in Jupiter. With no baseball team at his high school, he had flown under the radar a bit, but everyone knew his name after his performance down there when he struck out 13 batters over five no-hit innings.

Shipers has a small, 5-foot-11, 170-pound frame, but his stuff is legit. His fastball sits in the 90-93 mph range and he mixes in an above-average slider, a spike curveball and a changeup that scouts said acted like a splitter because of its late, tumbling action.

With no high school team, Shipers is pitching this spring with Perfect Game's spring team in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Robbie Ray, lhp, Brentwood (Tenn.) HS 47
Born: Oct. 1, 1991. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 170. Commitment: Arkansas

This summer, Ray was one of a handful of lefthanders to stand out on the showcase circuit. But the fall and spring months haven't been as kind. Academic problems forced Ray and Vanderbilt to part ways and his stuff has taken a step backward, as well.

Ray was 89-91 mph with his fastball this summer. He also throws a 77-78 mph slider and a 77-79 mph changeup.

"So far this year, he's been a little bit up and down and the effort level is something you question," a National League area scout said. "I saw his first start of the year and early on he was up to 92 and by the end of the outing he was working at 84-85."

Ray is now committed to Arkansas.

Griffin Murphy, lhp, East Valley HS, Redlands, Calif. 61
Born: Jan. 16, 1991. B-T: R-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 195. Commitment: San Diego

Murphy, whose strong, mature frame resembles that of Joe Saunders, delivers a fastball which ranges from 89-92 mph as well as a sweeping 75 mph curveball. Like a yo-yo master, Murphy can "do tricks" with his fastball: run it in, run it away, sink it, turn it over.

The young lefty's curve needs a bit of refining. His bender displays excellent sweep and two-plane movement, but it too often winds up at a hitter's waist, a no-no against advanced hitters. Sharp, savvy and a good learner, Murphy should have no problem improving his curve by spinning it down in the strike zone more often, thereby adding depth.

Unlike the horror show exhibited by most high school pitchers, Murphy's mechanics are relatively solid. He loads up well on his back hip and does a fine job of accelerating his arm at his release point. On the negative side, Murphy may benefit from slowing his motion down a shade to let everything catch up. Also, for a youngster with such strong thighs he may benefit from more leg drive in his delivery finish.

Murphy's talent—and the scarcity of lefthanded pitching in this year's crop—figure to make him a prized commodity in the June draft.

Justin Nicolino, lhp, University HS, Orlando 69
Born: Nov. 22, 1991. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 160. Commitment: Virginia

While Nicolino hasn't yet shown the velocity of some of the other pitchers on this list, he's not far behind and has a lot of projection remaining on his rail-thin frame. His fastball sits in the 86-89 mph range, topping out at 91. He has a good changeup, a breaking ball in the 76-77 mph range and shows good pitchability. Nicolino throws a lot of strikes and hits his spots.

"I saw him early in the year and he was 86, 87ish," an American League area scout said. "He's an intelligent kid that's going to be able to figure it out. I think as the season progresses, you're probably going to see better command out of him and possibly a velocity jump."

Evan Grills, lhp, Sinclair SS, Whitby, Ont. 75
Born: June 13, 1992. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 183. Commitment: Uncommitted

Grills is one of this year's most polished pitchers, thanks to the fact that he's been pitching against college and pro competition since he was 14 as a member of Canada's Junior National team. Grills always keeps a level head and seems to pitch better on a bigger stage.

Grills throws his fastball in the 88-91 mph range and really pounds the strike zone. He doesn't have the most impressive stuff in the class, but knows how to pitch and is a proven winner. He can locate his fastball to all four quadrants of the strike zone and mixes in his curveball and changeup well.

Deshun Dixon, lhp, Terry (Miss.) HS 79
Born: Sept. 20, 1991. B-T: R-L. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 175. Commitment: Uncommitted

Dixon is the younger brother of Athletics outfielder Rashun Dixon. He was an Under Armour All-American this summer and came into the season ranked as the No. 79 prospect on Baseball America's Top 100, but that may have been too high to begin with, and scouts haven't been impressed with either his play or his attitude, so his status as a prospect has been dropping like a rock.

Dixon has gone backwards from where he was in the summer and mostly attributed it to the mental part of his game and his makeup. He said Dixon plays as if he doesn't care and thinks everything should just be handed to him.

As an undersized player at 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, he's going to get limited chances anyway and playing without discernible passion certainly won't help his cause. On top of that, he was 84-88 mph with his fastball in a recent start and couldn't find the strike zone.

Daniel Gibson, lhp, Jesuit HS, Tampa 95
Born: Oct. 16, 1991. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 220. Commitment: Florida

Gibson has a professional frame and aggressive mechanics with good arm speed. His fastball sat in the 86-89 mph range at the East Coast Pro showcase last summer, but the pitch touches 90 and shows good life and sink. He changes speeds well and mixed in a 72-74 mph spike curveball and a 79-80 mph changeup.

Gibson, who is a part of Florida's impressive recruiting class, is comfortable throwing any pitch in any count and likes to throw back-to-back changeups, as well as starting a hitter off with an off-speed pitch. He's not afraid to pitch inside and is working on his command, polishing up his secondary offerings and his conditioning.

Evan Rutckyj, lhp, St. Joseph's HS, St. Thomas, Ont. 99
Born: Jan. 31, 1992. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 190. Commitment: Uncommitted

Rutckyj is a projectable lefthander with a great pitcher's frame. He was a competitive youth hockey player with limited baseball background, so he's understandably a bit raw on the mound but has a lot to get excited about. His fastball sits in the 90-92 mph range with good life and he also throws a slider.

Rutckyj has come a long way in a short amount of time but, because he's so new to pitching, he still has a ways to go. He has cleaned up his mechanics, but his breaking ball still needs work and he still needs to work on the finer parts of the game, like holding runners. Rutckyj is definitely a project, but there's a lot to like in a 6-foot-5 lefthander with a fresh arm.

Jordan Haseltine, lhp, Wood HS, Vacaville, Calif. 100
Born: Sept. 23, 1991. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 215. Commitment: San Francisco

Haseltine is a highly-projectable lefthander at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds. His fastball sits in the 87-89 mph range, but touches 91. He throws a curveball in the 73-77 mph range that has improved this year and he has also added a good changeup to his repertoire.

The thing Haseltine needs to work on are his mechanics. There is some tilt to his delivery and he often falls off to the third base side, which limits his ability to throw strikes.

Contributing: Dave Perkin