- Full name Jack Rafe Flaherty
- Born 10/15/1995 in Burbank, CA
- Profile Ht.: 6'4" / Wt.: 225 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Harvard-Westlake
- Debut 09/01/2017
Drafted in the 1st round (34th overall) by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2014 (signed for $2,000,000).
View Draft ReportLast summer, scouts regarded Flaherty as a better prospect at third base thanks to his gap-to-gap stroke and quality infield actions. But he struck out 12 in his 2014 season debut on the mound and quickly convinced scouts that he is a potential late first-round talent as a pitcher. Flaherty's 6-foot-3, 217-pound frame offers current strength as well as projection, and his arm action is clean and fast, so he figures to add velocity as he matures. He already sits at 88-92 mph and touches 93, and his command and control are advanced for his age. Flaherty has good feel for four pitches, led by a changeup that projects as plus to plus-plus. His 77-80 mph slider can be a swing-and-miss pitch, and he can use his curveball as a get-me-over pitch or occasionally as a chase pitch, because it does have some tightness. Scouts believe the slider has plus potential, giving him a chance for three above-average or better offerings.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Flaherty was the definition of a projectable high school righthander when the Cardinals drafted him 34th overall in 2014. He possessed an alluring frame, polish and a feel for four pitches, but his velocity was yet to come. The velocity finally arrived in 2017 He filled out and began sitting 93-94 mph and touching 96 after previously working 90-92. The result was he missed more bats than ever, soared through the upper minors and made his big league debut on Sept. 1., joining former Harvard-Westlake High teammates Lucas Giolito and Max Fried as big leaguers. Flaherty is extremely aggressive with his heavy fastball and uses it liberally. His pinpoint command and ability to add and subtract from it, combined with his velocity increase, make it a true plus pitch. His 83-86 mph slider leapt forward as well to become his primary secondary as an above-average pitch that generates swings and misses, and he has a 77-80 mph curveball to give batters a different look as well. Flaherty was projected to develop a plus changeup, but it is still an inconsistent pitch at 86-89 mph. A rotation spot will be Flaherty's for the taking in 2018. As long as he maintains his velocity increase and fine-tunes his secondaries, he should settle into the middle of the rotation.
As a sophomore at Harvard-Westlake High, Flaherty was a teammate with two first-round pitchers, Lucas Giolito (now White Sox) and Max Fried (Padres). No wonder he played third base. The Cardinals wooed the 34th overall pick in 2014 with a $2 million bonus, convinced his future was on the mound. He showed a polish beyond his age and a feel for four pitches, any or all of which could, given some nurturing, be above-average. Although he has the look of a pitcher with more velocity to reveal, Flaherty operates at 90-92 mph with his fastball and has yet to fulfill projections. He's persistent with throwing strikes. Flaherty mixes the fastball with a solid changeup that was projected to be a plus-plus pitch for him but hasn't reached that point yet. He also has a rolling curve and a slider that get muddled. With agility and reliable mechanics, he's getting good gas mileage in third gear and could reach the upper levels on reliability alone, but if he can find fourth and redline to fifth he'll move swifter. A return to high Class A Palm Beach is possible, at least to start the season, and if Flaherty's velocity continues to creep up so will he, with a chance be a front-line starter.
Flaherty was a sophomore third baseman at Harvard-Westlake High when teammates Max Fried (Padres) and Lucas Giolito (Nationals) were 2012 first-round picks. He added pitching duties the next spring to help replace them, and though he was committed to North Carolina to play third and pitch, the Cardinals loved him on the mound. He joined Fried and Giolito in becoming a first-round pick and signed for $2 million in 2014. Flaherty is more polish than stuff and has excellent pitchability. He pounds all areas of the strike zone with a 90-92 mph fastball and projects to have above-average command, with advanced present control. He has shown the ability to manipulate the movement on his fastball as well, cutting it or giving it run or sink, and he maintained his velocity better as the year progressed. Flaherty's best secondary pitch, a changeup, earned some future double-plus grades when he was an amateur, though it was more above-average in his first full pro season in 2015. He'll have to tighten his slurvy breaking ball, but he throws it for strikes. If Flaherty's velocity improves, he has a chance to be a front-line starter. If not, he still has the pitch mix and command to pitch in the middle of a rotation. He'll move up to high Class A Palm Beach for 2016.
To lure Flaherty away from North Carolina, the Cardinals signed him to the largest bonus ($2 million) of any of their 2014 draft picks and the team's fifth-largest in the past 16 years. Like most of baseball, the Cardinals first scouted Flaherty as a third baseman--one with gap power, good feel at the plate and a power arm from the corner. It became clear during his junior year, one evaluator said, that pitching was his future. He struck out 12 in his first prep start of 2014 and went to complete a 23-0, 0.63 stretch in his final two seasons in high school. Before growing into his frame and adding the strength that scouts believe will add velocity, Flaherty already has a feel for four pitches. He works from 90-92 mph with his fastball, and he has a changeup that will be a swing-and-miss pitch. His slider and curveball are clearly different from each other, not some uncommitted blend. And both pitches offer promise--with the slider being the better bet. Flaherty's fastball command is beyond his age. He has that high-angle delivery with swift arm speed that the Cardinals have sought in other tall, young righthanded pitchers. Eased into the pros in 2014, Flaherty will likely open 2015 in extended spring training with the possibility of seeing time at low Class A Peoria by summer's end.
Last summer, scouts regarded Flaherty as a better prospect at third base thanks to his gap-to-gap stroke and quality infield actions. But he struck out 12 in his 2014 season debut on the mound and quickly convinced scouts that he is a potential late first-round talent as a pitcher. Flaherty's 6-foot-3, 217-pound frame offers current strength as well as projection, and his arm action is clean and fast, so he figures to add velocity as he matures. He already sits at 88-92 mph and touches 93, and his command and control are advanced for his age. Flaherty has good feel for four pitches, led by a changeup that projects as plus to plus-plus. His 77-80 mph slider can be a swing-and-miss pitch, and he can use his curveball as a get-me-over pitch or occasionally as a chase pitch, because it does have some tightness. Scouts believe the slider has plus potential, giving him a chance for three above-average or better offerings.
Minor League Top Prospects
Flaherty blitzed through Double-A this year, allowing just 10 runs and just 11 walks in 10 starts with Springfield. He pitched effectively at Memphis, recording a 2.18 ERA between the two stops, before the Cardinals called him up on Sept. 1. Flaherty still gets most of his work done with his fastball. He can hit 96 mph, but more importantly, he can locate the pitch and keep it down. "He's just aggressive," Memphis manager Stubby Clapp said. "He's got a heavy fastball, and he's aggressive with it. There's no fear on the mound." Flaherty could still use a deeper repertoire, however. He used a changeup in high school but has relied more on a slider and a curveball as a pro. None is a plus pitch at this point, hence his reliance on the fastball.
Flaherty cruised through the TL on his way to Triple-A Memphis in early June and the big leagues on Sept. 1. In his 10 starts for Springfield, he recorded a 1.42 ERA and .205 opponent average in 63.1 innings. Typically reliant on his 92-94 mph fastball that can reach up to 96 with plus control, Flaherty's secondary stuff took a step forward this season. He works ahead in the count and walked just 1.6 per nine innings in the TL. Flaherty mixes in an effective, potentially plus slider in the mid-80s, as well as an above-average curveball and an improving feel for a fourth-pitch changeup. Given his progression this season, Flaherty has a chance to join the Cardinals' big league rotation at some point in 2018, less than four years removed from being the 34th overall pick in 2014.
Scouts had their eyes on Flaherty last summer as a third-base prospect, but a strong senior season on the mound helped solidify his status as one of the top prep pitchers in the 2014 draft, where he went 34th overall. After signing for $2 million, Flaherty breezed through the GCL because he's a polished pitcher for his age with a chance for three average to plus pitches. He has a loose, quick arm and has a chance to add velocity to his average fastball, which he can run up to 93 mph. He's a good athlete who repeats his delivery with excellent control for his age, working down in the zone to generate plenty of grounders. Flaherty's changeup is advanced for a teenager, already flashing plus with a chance to be a future 70 offering on the 20-80 scale. He throws two breaking balls, showing swing-and-miss ability with a slider some project to above-average, along with a curveball he uses early in counts.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Control in the St. Louis Cardinals in 2018