5/8/2013 9:02:24 AM
Jason Hursh: Oklahoma State's staff ace took the mound opposite Trey Masek. It was my first extended look at Hursh, a good-sized, well-proportioned RHP with obvious strength but with looseness in his frame. He has a long arm action, somewhat wrapping the ball in back as part of his takeaway. He has an easy, repeatable delivery, although I think some mechanical adjustments will need to be made at the next level. He will challenge batters with his fastball, of which he has pretty good command and velocity. His breaking ball is a softer, short breaking sweeping slurvy slider that I think he will need to tighten up on the next level, unless it is sharper in other outings. He threw a ton of pitches the first 2 innings, although his defense didn't help him in those innings, before settling down and pitching more efficiently in the 3rd and 4th.
Trey Masek: The 2nd week in a row I got a look at Masek. He looked more sharp in this game, although he was allowed to throw 131 pitches in a complete game victory over Oklahoma State. The ball explodes out of his hand, with nice life on his fastball. He did a good job keeping the pitch down around the knees early while hitting both the inside and outside corners. His command wasn't as sharp in the 2nd and to open the third, but once he got a nice DP that he started and a quick flyout, he cruised from there. There's some Jeremy Hellickson qualities given his size and arm speed.
Trevor Williams: Low waisted build, but good proportions. There's some stress on his shoulder as he appears to throw somewhat across his body. There is definitely deception to his delivery, as he's not over-powering but creates excellent sinking life on his fastball. He throws strikes, which also make him hittable, but his fastball sustains low-90s with life deep into the game. His 2-seamer has so much life it almost looks like a breaking pitch, and he can elevate his fastball, with less life, to get Ks up in the zone. His slider is almost a slower version of his sinking fastball, with softer, short break. It's not a huge swing-and-miss pitch, but he commands it extremely well and he has great command of this pitch as well as his sinker, which is easier said than done, with the ability to move his ball around, hitting the corners to set up hitters. He also throws a changeup, and can throw any pitch in any count (and often does, frequently pitching backwards).
Mark Appel: I saved the best for last, but Mark Appel, as I've contended before, isn't a slam dunk as a premium draft pick. He quickly passes the eye test with a perfect, proportional athletic build and 3 very good pitches in his fastball, slider and changeup. His slider is arguably the best breaking pitch in this draft, thrown with the same arm speed and trajectory as his fastball before diving hard, down and away from RH hitters. His changeup is also thrown with the same arm speed an action before tumbling down in the zone. His slider is usually in the mid-80s and his changeup is just a tick or two below that. The oddest part about Appel is that his fastball is hittable, despite being thrown regularly in the mid-90s, and he sustains that velocity deep into ballgames, frequently staying in the 93-95 range in the 9th inning. It's hard to pinpoint why he's hittable, but his overall numbers are indicative of this, as with his stuff he could easily strike out 180 to 200+ batters per season at the college level much like former college hurlers David Price and Mark Prior did that had similar overall combos of size and stuff. He's very composed on the mound with a clean, repeatable and consistent delivery and arm action.
I know a few have compared him to Justin Verlander, who I saw a few times throw in college. The thing is Verlander has always had dominant stuff and batters never could square him up, or even make any contact. What was missing for Verlander in college was command, something that almost instantly came to him once he hit pro ball. With Appel it's not about command at all, and as I noted, I'm not sure what adjustment he makes to make his fastball less hittable, or at least more difficult to square up. The pieces are all there, and he's going to go very high in the draft even if he's not taken No. 1 overall, as any team is going to kick themselves letting him get by if he's able to make a few final key adjustments at the next level.
Austin Wilson: Similar to Appel teams are going to have a hard time letting him slide too far, as his talent is undeniable. He's a very big, imposing physical specimen, built like an NFL tight end with good speed and arm strength, giving him 5-tool potential. He did a pretty good job laying off of a steady diet of breaking balls low and away, which obviously is his weakness giving in to this pitch. He hasn't driven the ball much, but he has the bat speed and strength to do so as he continues to hone his approach. He did a nice job hitting a 2-run single in the 3rd inning, again laying off sliders to get a fastball that he hit a hard chopper up the middle. In the 7th inning he hit an opposite field double to the gap, again, not with loud contact, but he showed a nice swing going with the pitch.