Amateur Draft Profile: Barret Loux, RHP, Texas A&M

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Summary

You may have heard me talk about Loux at times this spring. He's a 6-foot-5, 200 pound right-hander who prepped at Stratford High School in Houston. He had some shoulder trouble his senior year of high school, but got through that to pitch all three years for Texas A&M. He had some elbow trouble his sophomore year, but a minor surgery to clear up some bone chips fixed that problem.

Loux has a great fastball and works off it most of the time. His offspeed stuff isn't as developed, because his heater is so good, touching 95 and sitting around 92-93. That gives Loux a great strikeout rate all three seasons at A&M. In 2010, he's struck out 126 in 96 innings as A&M's Friday starter. The six home runs he's given up is a bit high, but that's probably due to his reliance on the fastball. Metal bats probably catch up to it better than wooden ones will.

Floor

Scouts have a clever little phrase for guys like Loux. They're said to be "helium" guys, because they're quickly rising up draft boards. It's just like that baseball phrase "steaks," slang for RBIs (RBIs, ribeyes, ribeye steaks...). This one just has a more volatile meaning for prospects. It means a guy could be becoming overhyped or overvalued. What does this have to do with his floor? If Loux is rising quickly based on his performance this spring, but that performance isn't sustainable, he's going to be a classic bust. With only one pitch, it'd be hard for Loux to make the majors, even if he has as good a control of the pitch as is reported.

Ceiling

His workload and fastball command suggest he could be a very good No. 3 starter. If his secondary pitches develop, that puts his ceiling even higher. For now, though, looking at him as a solid middle rotation starter who will be ready for the big leagues pretty fast seems about right.

Will the Astros pick him?  If so, where?

This flies in the face of the Astros draft philosophy. Bobby Heck seems to focus more on prep arms early and fill out with solid, but under-the-radar college arms later in the draft. On the flip side of that is the fact that A&M has a connection to drafting Aggie relievers the past two seasons. In 2008, they selected Kirkland Rivers late in the draft and Scott Migl in 2009. That connection may be the source of the rumors that the Astros are interested in Loux if their main guys are gone at No. 19. I still think that's high for Loux, but Houston might not have a shot at him in the supplemental round. Loux would give Houston a polished college arm who could fly through the system. I'm not sure that justifies taking him with their second first round pick, though.

Where is he projected to go right now?

Keith Law has him at No. 23 to the Marlins.

Andy Seiler has him at No. 32 to the Yankees.

Deep Leagues has him at No. 49 in the supplemental first round to the Tigers.

Jonathan Mayo has him at No. 13 to the White Sox.

Perfect Game USA does not have him in the first round.

Baseball America does not have him in the first round.

Frankie Piliere has him at No. 23 to the Marlins.

Kevin Goldstein does not have him in the first round.

John Sickels does not have him in the first round.

Bibliography (Scouting Reports and video)

Below the jump.

Video

MLB.com

My own homemade video on Loux

Keith Law's take:

Loux has been one of the top-performing pitchers in Division 1 this year despite his lack of a plus pitch, instead getting outs by changing speeds and throwing strikes.

Loux's fastball is in the low 90s, touching 94 occasionally, with some downhill plane on it. His best offspeed pitch is a hard changeup at 83-86 with late but sharp tailing action; he throws a slider and a spike curveball, neither of which is sharp, with the slider ahead of the curve at the moment. He throws strikes with the fastball and change, but can't command the curve, typical of guys who throw the spike.

His arm action is clean but there's no deception in the delivery; he takes a moderate stride that could be a little longer after he drifts through his balance point. If he junks the spike and either gets more consistency on the slider or switches to a traditionally-gripped curveball, he'd project as a mid-rotation starter, with the downside of a two-pitch reliever who'd probably sit at 94 or better.

Andy Seiler's take:

Although some would have you believe that Loux has come out of nowhere to dominate this spring, he's actually been on the radar screen for quite some time. Had it not been for shoulder problems during his senior year, he could have been a first day pick in the 2007 draft. However, he fell to the Tigers in the 24th round, and he's fallen off the radar a little following two average seasons for the Aggies, the second ending prematurely due to bone chips in his elbow. However, being healthy has been the best thing for Loux this spring, as his stuff, command, and durability has all gotten better throughout the season. He pitches off a plus 92-94 mph fastball that gets average movement, but he's really spotting it on the corners this year. He adds in a plus curveball and potential above-average changeup, making him one of the highest-ceiling college pitchers available in the entire draft class. After being held back a little early on in the season, he's also started to be let loose a little, and he's responded well, pitching deeper into games and maintaining his stuff in front of large audiences of scouts. The only drawback in Loux's game is his injury history that involves both his elbow and shoulder, and while he flashes excellent stuff, that history is going to scare off some teams that are afraid that the injuries will pop back up again on a five day rotation in the minors. However, he's an elite arm, and he'll be gone before the start of the third round if he maintains his stuff for the next six weeks. Projected Draft Range: Late 1st Round - Mid 2nd Round

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