I/O: BaseballHQ has four elite SP's that they think look like "annual Cy Young contenders" -- Dylan Bundy, Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer and Taijuan Walker.
CRUNCH - Nice to see Cole step back into dominance last year. There are other young SP's who look like impact pitchers very soon - Tyler Skaggs, Jose Fernandez, the M's two starters, and a couple of others.
But the takeaway here is that HQ expects Taijuan to arrive in the second half of this year, or in April 2014 at the latest. He's on their 2013 roto watch list, meaning that their clients should be banking him for 2013 production.
They've got him as the #6 prospect in baseball -- Jackson Profar SS, Wil Myers OF, and Oscar Taveras OF along with Bundy and Cole. Then Taijuan.
I/O: Deloney and Gordon give the tools assessment on Taijuan.
CRUNCH: These two guys are Dr. D's go-to source for tools reports that can be relied on. For Taijuan, they've got:
- FB: 91-98, 5 stars
- CB: 80-82, 3 stars
- CH: 84-87, 2 stars
That's the only 5-star rating I specifically ever recall seeing in their book. Am sure there have been a few others.
Athletic, electric SP who bypassed High A. Few can match athleticism and upside ...
... with potential for three above avg offerings.
Exceptional fastball may be best in minors with explosive velocity and life.
Can dominate with hard curve, but needs to find consistency.
Has clean delivery and should post very high K rates.
On the videos we have seen, Walker does seem to have the Brandon Morrow type of fastball that can be used as a "challenge" pitch, one that can miss out-and-over and still draw a swinging strike.
The development of the offspeed stuff isn't as critical for a guy like Walker. Felix never emphasized that, throwing the ball by people; he was more of a command guy from the start, so his excellent offspeed stuff was integral to his game.
Michael Pineda threw this type of hard, and people oversold the importance of his offspeed game just like they will Taijuan's. When the batter has to pull the trigger during the windup, there's a lot of margin for error built in.
But wow. It ain't like Walker is having trouble with those offspeed pitches, either. He's growing physically and growing in terms of the control of his own game. He's liable wake up one day pretty soon and find out he's Felix Hernandez.
Let's hope the M's wake up as soon as he does...