Draft : : Top Prospects
Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Draft Focus: Hunter Virant

David Rawnsley        
Photo: Perfect Game
Every weekday leading up to the 2012 MLB Draft, Perfect Game will be providing a scouting profile on a notable draft-eligible prospect.  Stay tuned to Perfect Game and be sure to visit the Draft Page for all of the latest info and reports pertaining to the draft.

Hunter Virant Perfect Game profile

Position: LHP
Height: 6-3
Weight: 175
Bats/Throws: R/L
Birthdate: January 22, 1994
High School: Camarillo
City, State: Camarillo, Calif.
Travel Team: So Cal Cardinals
Commitment: UCLA
Projected Draft Round: 1S, 2

Left handed pitcher Hunter Virant is best understood as an athlete. He didn’t even start pitching until after his sophomore year in high school as he played strictly centerfield before then. Noted Los Angeles Times high school writer Eric Sondheimer called Virant one of the best athletes he’s seen in any sport in the Los Angeles area and wondered why he wasn’t the starting quarterback on the Camarillo High School football team and the starting point guard on the basketball team.

At Perfect Game, we only know the 6-foot-3, 175-pound Virant as a left handed pitcher, but know him well enough to have him ranked No. 22 in the country in the most recent class of 2012 rankings. He was 2011 Perfect Game All-American and threw an inning in the All-American Classic in San Diego August 14, 2011.

That’s a pretty impressive timeline, going from taking up pitching to throwing in high school baseball’s premier game in approximately one years time.

Virant is a three-pitch southpaw who is very projectable due to his athleticism and his inexperience on the mound. His narrow frame probably won’t fill out too much more as he matures and he may be the type that never weighs much more than about 185 pounds. He throws from a high leg raise delivery with a full loose arm circle in back and a high three-quarters release point. Virant stays above the ball well and creates downhill angle to his pitches.

At his best, Virant pitches in the 90-93 mph range with his fastball with good hard sinking and running life down in the strike zone. We’ve read reports that he’s touched 95-96 mph in the past but we haven’t seen it. Virant’s velocity has reportedly been down a bit early in the spring, pitching more in the upper-80s and touching 91 mph, but it’s still very early.

Both of Virant’s offspeed pitches have a chance to be plus Major League offerings. He throws his breaking ball between 74 and 78 mph and has the ability to change the shape and velocity of the pitch with intent, with the lower velocity curveballs being bigger and deeper and the higher velocity pitch being more of a flatter slurve. It’s easy to see a professional team breaking Virant’s present breaking ball into two parts, leaving him with the bigger curveball and adding a true slider in the 83-85 mph range.

Virant’s changeup is usually 80-81 mph and he does a very good job of maintaining his arm speed and generating life on the pitch, especially for a relatively inexperienced pitcher. He will drop his arm slot a bit occasionally on the pitch but that is correctable.

Much of the talk on Virant centers around his commitment to UCLA and how a future Bruin pitching staff that includes Harvard Westlake High School top pitching prospects Lucas Giolito and Max Fried, along with Virant, would be among the most celebrated staffs ever, on par with Michigan’s “Fab Five” in basketball. Anything can happen in the next four months leading up to the post-draft signing deadline, as demonstrated by Giolito’s recent elbow sprain, and don’t thick that UCLA head coach John Savage isn’t thinking about that rotation occasionally.

Perfect Game events attended:

    2011 National Showcase
    2011 Perfect Game All-American Classic Presented by Rawlings

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