Pitching is always at a premium and the demand for the left-handed variety never seems to be met.Every Draft provides another opportunity for organizations to load up on young pitching talent that they can develop from within, and there are a number of southpaws who have the chance to get
Pitching is always at a premium and the demand for the left-handed variety never seems to be met.
Every Draft provides another opportunity for organizations to load up on young pitching talent that they can develop from within, and there are a number of southpaws who have the chance to get taken early on in the Draft. Matthew Liberatore, a high schooler from Arizona, leads the pack and seems to be the lone lefty who could land in the top 10 of the first round.
:: 2018 Draft coverage ::
The 2018 Draft will take place on June 4-6, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com at 6 p.m. ET on Monday, June 4. MLB Network will broadcast the first 43 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while MLB.com will stream all 78 picks on Day 1. MLB.com will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, with a preview show beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on MLB.com on Day 3, beginning at noon ET.
Go to MLB.com/draft to see the Top 200 Prospects list, mock drafts, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft on Twitter to see what Draft hopefuls, clubs and experts are saying.
Liberatore isn't the only left-hander likely to go in the first round. Fellow prepster Ryan Weathers (son of former big leaguer David) and a pair of college arms, South Florida's Shane McClanahan and Mississippi's Ryan Rolison, should also come off the board in the top 35 picks. Here are the top 10 lefties in the class, listed by ranking in MLB Pipeline Draft Top 200:
4. Matthew Liberatore, Mountain Ridge HS (Ariz.)
- Ryan Weathers, Loretto HS (Tenn.)
- Shane McClanahan, South Florida
- Ryan Rolison, Mississippi
- Kris Bubic, Stanford
- Konnor Pilkington, Mississippi State
- Tim Cate, Connecticut
- Steven Gingery, Texas Tech
- Daniel Lynch, Virginia
- Brandon Williamson, North Iowa Area CC
Top tools (Grade on 20-to-80 scouting scale in parentheses)
Fastball: McClanahan (70)
A 26th-round pick in 2015 out of high school, McClanahan chose South Florida over the Mets. Three years later he has as much arm strength anyone in the class. He's consistently clocked in the 97-100 mph range, and he can maintain that velocity deep into his outings.
Curveball: Cate (65)
Cate's Draft stock has become a bit clouded because of forearm tightness that kept him off the mound for several starts, though he did return late in the spring. When healthy, he arguably has the best curveball in the class, a true 12-to-6 hammer he can throw for a strike at any point in the count.
Slider: Liberatore (55)
The scary thing is that Liberatore just added his slider this season. It's given him an effective fourth weapon and some scouts think it eventually will become a plus pitch as he continues to throw it more frequently.
Changeup: McClanahan (60)
McClanahan's offspeed pitch is so effective because he sells it so well with the exact same arm speed as he throws his upper-90s fastball. It has a ton of late drop to it and serves as an out pitch for him.
Control: Liberatore (55)
Last summer, Liberatore was a command specialist. This spring, he lost feel a little as his velocity spiked, but he settled back in at the end of his year. He repeats his delivery so well and has such a good feel for pitching, that seeing him have consistently plus command when all is said and done doesn't sound unreasonable.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.