Amateur Draft Preview: Dillon Howard Searcy High (AR)

Summary

As we've already discussed so many times leading up to the draft, there are so many pitchers worthy of an early first round pick.  Dillon Howard is the perfect example of a pitcher who would possibly be a top ten pick in normal years, but this year could fall into the second half of the first or even into the supplemental round.  Howard is from Searcy, AR which is about hour north of Little Rock and it's where I spent my four years of college and I never once took the time to go see him pitch.  That's party because I didn't start doing any type research into this year's draft until I moved to Nashville last year. 

Howard may not be quite as projectable as the high school pitchers we are accustomed to because he already fairly thick at slightly over 200 pounds on his 6'3 frame.  He'll still put on some more weight but he isn't as projectable as our Jordan Lyles, Tanner Bushue, and Michael Foltynewicz.  But, he may not need much more weight on his body to be the type of pitcher he projects to be.

His stuff starts with his already above average-plus fastball that sits 90-94 but can crank it up to legitimate mid-90's and will do so more frequently as he adds the little weight he can.  It's not a straight fastball either as it has good sink and run to make it a true swing-and-miss offering.  As for his secondary offerings, that's when scouts start to disagree on Howard.  His throws a curveball that has good depth but it's a little slurvy at this point and he struggles to throw it consistently for strikes.  He has a good feel for his changeup, but as with any high schooler, it can be inconsistent.

Being that he already does have good weight on his frame and has clean classic mechanics, he's not a high injury risk.  He's athletic and his easy mechanics allow for him to be consistent in his delivery and surprisingly good control for his stuff (besides the curve). 

Ceiling

With a lack of any familiarity with a fourth pitch, his ceiling is a little up in the air.  It's not hard to project ace type upside with a hard fastball with good movement that goes along with a curve that if tightened up can be an above average pitch.  Those two pitches, if become strikeout pitches, along with an average changeup makes a mid to frontline starter.  The question is whether he'll have a feel for a splitter, cutter, slider, anything at the next level to make him a true front-line guy.  So, we're probably seeing a #2 type upside with potential to be an ace.

Floor

His floor is probably something along the lines of middle reliever or set-up guy primarily because of his strong fastball.  If he's never able to tighten up his curve and has to rely on that and a changeup as a show me pitch to keep hitters honest, he won't last in the rotation.  It's possible that he could be a Bud Norris type guy where people consistently question his third offering and whether or not he's more valuable in the late innings or in the rotation.

Will the Astros pick him? If so, where?

It's a little doubtable at this point as he is projected so far back into the late half of the first round to supplemental, because of who else is available, I doubt he gets picked in the first round by Bobby Heck.  Reports are that Houson loves several of the pitchers who are going to be available still that it's hard to see it.  But, if his commitment to University of Arkansas scares enough teams off, he could sneak into the late part of the supplemental round to early second.  With the amount of supp. picks this year, I don't think we'll see him last until the second.

Where is he projected to go right now?

Keith Law has him at No. 25 to the Padres

Deep Leagues has him at No. 30 to the Twins

Jonothan Mayo has him at No. 22 to the Cardinals

Perfect Game doesn't have him in the first round

Baseball America has him at NO. 29 to the Giants

John Sickels has him at No. 28 to the Braves

Bibliography (Scouting Reports and Video)

Below the jump...

MLB.com

The Arkansas product has a fastball that will be plus, touching 95 mph at times. It's not straight, either, with both sink and run to it. His hard curve, 78-80 mph, is a little slurvy now and is fringy average, but it's got some depth to it and will be more than fine. He's even got a good feel for a changeup, an offspeed pitch that should be a Major League average pitch as well.

John Sickels says:

Certain first round pick in most drafts, but might go a bit lower this year given the depth in power arms. 92-94 MPH fastball, good slider and an excellent changeup, smooth delivery when it is going well but there are reports of some mechanical inconsistency.

Keith Law says:

He sits in the 90-94 range but will show you a 95 or a 96, with the definite physical potential to sit in the mid-90s when he fills out. He can get caught between a slider and curveball but has the wrist action to spin a good curveball given more consistent release. Howard has a clean, classic delivery, with a very high leg kick, a moderate stride, and good shoulder tilt, with a repeatable arm action that has him turning his pitching hand over early. He's largely projection and arm strength, but his delivery is clean, repeatable and very promising

Sorry, no video that I could find.

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