2010 MLB Draft: Top 10 Pitching Prospects

While there is no pitcher with the status and promise of a Stephen Strasburg (or Mike Leake for that matter), there are a few top pitching prospects who could get to the majors, a few rather quickly.

This list is not who has the best curveball or will be drafted highest.

This is about who I believe will have the biggest major league impact.

Some of my draft beliefs you have recently read about in a prior slide show, but here is a recap:

1) All things equal, I would rather stay away from a high school pitcher.

2) College arms who are from major BASEBALL conferences usually are the safest bet.

3) I would always rather go with a guy with good command of his pitches, but throws only in the high 80s to low 90s. The guy with mid-to-high 90s stuff, but has no idea where the pitch is going or what to do on the mound, usually is a wasted pick.

That is why a few guys looked at to be taken very high in this draft are not on the list. They may throw hard and have “great upside,” but they are really not good pitchers.

That includes guys like Chris Sale and Stetson Allie.

That being said, there are a few top high school arms on this list, and right handed high school arms appear to be the deepest part of the 2010 draft.

And when I put down a comparison, it does not mean that the draftee will have that type of career. But means that the pitcher reminds me of that current or former major leaguer or might have the same type stuff.

#10 – Alex Wimmers RHP Ohio State

A very polished college pitcher who has command of several pitches, including what could be the best curveball in the draft.

He also had a pretty good change up entering his 2010 season, but it is now a much better pitch with good downward action (see grip in photo).

He is similar to Greg Maddux in that he can command both sides of the plate with a 90 MPH fastball, good control and solid movement. Only flaw in a smooth delivery is that he sometimes opens his front shoulder up too early.

Projection is a mid-rotation starter, but easily could become better if he gets quality coaching in the minors.

#9 – Asher Wojciechowski RHP, The Citadel

A very big, powerful right handed horse, standing 6’4″ and is a good 235 lbs.

He is a power pitcher, through and through. Hard fastball with some sink sitting in low 90s, and was steady at 93-94 late in the Citadel’s season.

Nothing in his arsenal is off speed, as he has a power curve/slider but no working change up.

Some people still believe he can be a major league starting pitcher, but I disagree. He is a perfect example of a top college starter who will be a major league relief pitcher.

I like his confidence. For example, he called his college coach last Saturday night demanding the ball for the conference championship game the next day. He was working on three days rest after throwing 117 pitches in the opening game on Wednesday.

Think Joba Chamberlain in regards to size, demeanor and stuff. But his overall stuff and command is not as good as Joba’s.

What I do not like is his arm action. In the photo above, Wojciechowski’s elbow is too high up before his release, and his upper body is too far forward.

That signals eventual shoulder surgery, which can be delayed if he is converted to relief.

#8 – Matt Harvey RHP University of North Carolina

Another college starting pitcher who projects to be a professional relief pitcher.

This is due to his pitch repertoire which includes a four-seamer thrown at 94 (which has reached 98), a two-seamer and hard slider.

No soft stuff here. Harvey has a smooth delivery and no real issues.

Coming from the baseball factory of North Carolina, Harvey reminds me of another former Tar Heel, Daniel Bard.

Bard is a set up man for Jonathan Papebon and looks to be the closer when Papelbon becomes too expensive for the Red Sox.

That is the same role and program I envision for Harvey.

#7 – Peter Tago – RHP Dana Hills (CA) High School

Many are scared of Tago due to some off field matters which has caused him to remove himself from his UCLA commitment.

But Tago wants to turn pro and will sign quickly.

He also wants the ball often. I love that.

He has a very smooth delivery with good, safe arm action which could limit any injuries.

Late in his senior season, Tago impressed by throwing 95 MPH in the first and last innings of work. He seems to get better as the game moved along.

He has a power fastball from a low slot delivery, generating significant movement.

Tago can be a top of the rotation starting pitcher, and he reminds me of Ramon Martinez, Pedro’s older brother.

#6 – Karsten Whitson RHP Chipley (FL) High School

Nice, big frame with a mid-90s fastball, great slider and very good change up.

Whitson is the most polished high school pitcher in the draft, but a knock is that he has not faced good competition in high school.

Throws strikes with good movement, and with his arsenal, he could be the first high school 2010 pick to make the majors.

Think Zack Greinke with a possible bigger body down the road.

#5 – Brandon Workman RHP University of Texas

One of the more polished pitchers in the 2010 draft, Workman was a high draft pick in high school, but declined the Philadelphia Phillies money and opted for college.

Good move.

Depending on the selecting team, Workman could be one of the first draftees to be in a major league rotation.

Good fastball and great curve, which can be thrown for strikes, plus an improving change up. He has been the horse of a really good Texas program for the last two seasons.

While Texas has not produced quality pro pitching talent the last ten years, Workman could the best of the last decade. I like going with Longhorn pitchers, hoping one finally makes it—similar to Susan Lucci at the Emmy Awards.

Think Roger Clemens in body type and ability to power pitch.

#4 Deck McGuire RHP Georgia Tech

Good body at 6’6″, 225 lbs with room to grow.

Deck has had a very consistent career in one of the top baseball conferences in the country.

He has three good pitches, a fastball at 94, with good command of each pitch. The only knock is that his fastball has little movement and he sometimes does not finish his curveball.

One reason I have him this high is if Deck gets into a good professional pitching program which cleans up some of his mechanics, he could be a really good top-to-middle of the rotation starter with greater velocity.

Compares to Chris Volstad of the Florida Marlins in size and stuff.

#3 Anthony Ranaudo RHP Louisiana State University

I still believe Ranaudo will be a good major league pitcher. He has faced great competition during his three seasons at LSU, and was the winning pitcher in the 2009 College World Series.

Ranaudo has a low-to-mid-90s fastball, good curve and average change up.
With a little work, Renaudo could have three really good out pitches.

Some people are worried about an elbow issue which no one outside his immediate family (and doctor) knows anything about. It only required a little rest, but no knife.

What if he needed Tommy John surgery? He will still be an effective major league pitcher by 2013 at age 25.

Is that really all that bad?

He could then be similar to Andrew Brackman for the Yankees in the 2007 draft. If Ranaudo needed surgery, he would miss about a year, come back slowly and start to dominate again two years removed form TJS.

I am not saying he needs the surgery, but I always like to look at the worst case scenario.

Best spot for Ranaudo would be a team like the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees, who can afford to pay him what he wants and afford the time he might need.

Ranaudo’s comparison could be Justin Verlander, but only if he works hard to refine secondary pitches, and doesn’t need surgery.

Then he is Brackman reincarnated.

#2 – Jameson Taillon RHP The Woodlands (TX) High School

Even though he is a high school product, Taillon is likely the hardest thrower in the draft, hitting the gun as high as 98 MPH.

While he has pretty clean mechanics from an injury standpoint, from the video I have seen, his landing foot finds itself in different spots even during pitches to the same hitter in the same at bat.

Because of this, he often falls off to the glove side.

He has a short stride which can be lengthened to possibly gain even more consistent velocity, which could be Strasburg territory.

He has a great arm and a possible great future, and a good minor league pitching coordinator will help him get better.

The best thing which can happen to Taillon is for the team which selects him to not put him in competition right away. Send him to an Instructional League to clean up and soften his delivery.

They also need to teach him how to throw a better curve and change up.

Then keep hm in Extended Spring training next year before going to short season ball in June 2011.

With his velocity and the development of a curve ball, he could be like AJ Burnett or even Stephen Strasburg.

But he could easily be Todd Van Poppel, too.

Even though he is a high school product, Taillon is likely the hardest thrower in the draft, hitting the gun as high as 98 MPH.

While he has pretty clean mechanics from an injury standpoint, from the video I have seen, his landing foot finds itself in different spots even during pitches to the same hitter in the same at bat.

Because of this, he often falls off to the glove side.

He has a short stride which can be lengthened to possibly gain even more consistent velocity, which could be Strasburg territory.

He has a great arm and a possible great future, and a good minor league pitching coordinator will help him get better.

The best thing which can happen to Taillon is for the team which selects him to not put him in competition right away. Send him to an Instructional League to clean up and soften his delivery.

They also need to teach him how to throw a better curve and change up.

Then keep hm in Extended Spring training next year before going to short season ball in June 2011.

With his velocity and the development of a curve ball, he could be like AJ Burnett or even Stephen Strasburg.

But he could easily be Todd Van Poppel, too.

#1 Drew Pomeranz – LHP  Ole Miss

He is the best left-handed arm in the draft, and will not go past the Cleveland Indians at No. 5. He could likely be the first arm to get to the majors.

Whether he is taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates at No. 2, the Kansas City Royals at No. 4 or the Indians, Pomeranz has the stuff to enter a major league starting rotation this season.

At least a rotation spot with one of those three teams.

If I were Pomeranz’ agent, I would push for a major league contract and possible September 2010 call up.

Pomeranz has a low 90s fastball, effectively thrown to both sides of the plate. He complements that fastball with a nice breaking downward curve, which is a very good out pitch against both right handed and left handed hitters.

While his arm action in the back is a bit long and just plain weird, I would not change much about his delivery, possibly tweaking a few things to get more consistent control of his two major league ready pitches.

He compares to Joe Saunders of the Los Angeles Angels or maybe Andy Pettitte of the New York Yankees.

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