College : : Story
Monday, March 05, 2018

Power arms continue in Houston

Brian Sakowski        
Photo: Vanderbilt Athletics

Weekend PreviewPerfect Game College Player Database

During the season Perfect Game scouts will be traveling to some of the top series to watch the very best players in college baseball. Those observations, captured with both written notes and video, will be shared in the College Player Database as linked above, notes that can also be accessed on the players' individual PG profile pages. Throughout the season select reports will be shared in feature format to promote the players, the teams and college baseball as a whole.

Reid Schaller, rhp, Vanderbilt

The ever-elusive draft-eligible redshirt freshman, Vanderbilt's Reid Schaller missed the 2017 season recovering from Tommy John, so it may end up that he only pitches one season for the Commodores. He pitched the 8th inning of Vanderbilt's Shriners College Classic victory over Houston (very) late on Sunday night, and was extremely loud in doing so. 

He's built well, strong and sturdy throughout, and looks like what he is: a power-armed righthanded reliever. Despite that profile, there really isn't much effort or poor mechanics here, as Schaller's delivery and arm action are both quite simple. He works from the stretch, takes a small/quick leg lift to load into his back hip, drives downhill and does a good job rotating his hips and getting online. The arm action is compact through the back and pretty clean, hiding the ball exceptionally well from the hitter and releasing from a high three-quarters slot, seemingly releasing the ball from behind his head. 

The fastball was explosive, reaching 97 mph before settling in at 93-96 mph, and Schaller didn't need anything else on this night. He was consistently in command of the fastball, putting it on both sides of the plate down in the zone, creating good angle to the plate, and while the pitch was mostly on the straighter side, he did show the ability to run it arm side at times. Quite frankly, while plus already given the velocity, is closer to plus-plus in terms of effectiveness because of how well he hides it as well as the command he has of the pitch. 

He's draft-eligible this year, as stated above, and while there are concerns in terms of draft stock, namely the injury history, that's still explosive enough to get plenty of looks, potentially as early as mid-Day 2. 

Justin Lewis, rhp, Kentucky

Draft-eligible last year as a redshirt sophomore, Justin Lewis was taken in the 11th round by the Rays--a round where the player selected signs the vast majority of the time--but spurned the advances of professional baseball to return to Kentucky and pitch in the rotation of a College World Series-caliber ballclub. He pitches on Sundays for Nick Mingione and co., and is the elder statesmen of a rotation that includes Sean Hjelle (true junior) and Zack Thompson (true sophomore). Lewis picked up the win on Sunday over Louisiana-Lafayette to move to 3-0 on the season, going 6.1 innings and allowing four runs (two earned) on seven hits and one walk to go along with seven punchouts. 

Lewis is long and lean, potentially even more so than noted beanpole teammate Hjelle, but is a highly athletic and still-projectable 6-foot-7, 205 pounds, though his is a narrower frame. Again like Hjelle, Lewis' pure length makes it innately more difficult to control and repeat his delivery, but his athleticism stands out in that he does repeat quite well and his control is very good as a result. The delivery itself is pretty simple, with some drop-and-drive tendencies, getting online to the plate with good lower half drive and rotation. Though there is that element of drop-and-drive, Lewis does a good job still creating plane to the plate, in part to his height and overall length. The arm action is very clean, with an easy medium-length takeback without any hook or wrap, accelerating into the circle effortlessly and reaching a high three quarters slot. His athleticism is especially on display as he varies the look and pace of his delivery while still retaining command. 

His fastball started out in the 88-91 mph range, and as the game went on he kept gaining steam and reached 94 mph, holding 90-92 mph into his final inning, with average life to the arm side. He's good at keeping the pitch down in the zone, and while he gave up his fair share of hits in this one, a good deal of them were on the ground. His breaking ball, like his fastball, got firmer as the game wore on, starting off in the upper-70's and ending up reaching 82-83 mph with good sharpness and tilt, an average pitch right now that may project a bit better. His changeup, which he went to frequently early on, is quite soft with a lot of velocity differential from his fastball, thrown in the mid-70's with big time fading action and tons of deception; though that type of velo separation can be dangerous at the next level as the hitters get better and better. 

Overall from a draft perspective, Lewis is currently ranked No. 182 on the most recent iteration of the Perfect Game Top Draft Prospects List, and while he'll likely slide upwards a bit, that slots him right around the 7th round range. He fits into the 4-7 round range for me right now, so he'll see his ranking rise a bit, but a safe early-mid Day 2 selection is what it looks like for Lewis right now. 

Chris Machamer, rhp, Kentucky

A sophomore-eligible righthanded reliever, Chris Machamer closed out Kentucky's Sunday victory over Louisiana-Lafayette by working a perfect 9th inning, striking out the side. 

He's a solidly-built righthander with a medium-large frame, and while he's approaching physical maturity in terms of his body, there may be a bit of projection remaining through his torso. He has a solid, repeatable, compact delivery that gets him online to the plate and over his front side, though with some effort through release. He's a reliever, so the effort, while not even being bad, won't really inhibit him. The arm action has a bit of a wrap to it but the acceleration is clean and the ball comes out of his hand just fine from a high three quarters slot. 

He worked 92-94 mph to close out the game, creating some angle to the plate and filling up the strike zone with that fastball and attacking hitters from the get go with it. He worked in a pair of offspeed pitches, a short cut-slider type pitch in the 84-85 mph range that had some subtle horizontal slice to it, and a more traditional curveball in the 78-80 mph range with 11/5 shape and some depth. Neither offspeed pitch was more than fringe-average, though they were thrown for strikes or down out of the zone, so neither got him hurt and both served as quality offerings off of his fastball. 

There's draft upside here as a strike-throwing reliever with a good fastball, and we look forward to getting more looks at him this season to really nail down his profile. 

Copyright 1994-2018 by Perfect Game. All rights reserved. No portion of this information may be reprinted or reproduced without the written consent of Perfect Game.