2012 MLB Draft Profile: Lance McCullers Jr., Tampa Bay, FL

Summary

Lance McCullers Jr. has dominated his competition this spring and put up incredible numbers for his high school. McCullers has one of the better fastballs in the draft, which sits in the 94-96 range and has been clocked higher than that. His next best weapon (perhaps his best weapon) is a sharp two-plane break slider that could be a plus-plus pitch. He also features a curveball and a changeup, but is much more inconsistent with those pitches.

One of the concerns with Lance is that at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds there is not as much room for projection within his frame, and that leads to injury and durability concerns. Another concern with McCullers is that there is some effort to his delivery, and he has trouble throwing from the same arm slot consistently. This leads to command and control issues, and there are times when he completely loses the strike zone. He possesses enough athleticism that it is possible for him to improve his mechanics and also find a repeatable arm slot which may improve his control over time. He is definitely a high ceiling very low floor type of pitcher, but most scouts have his future pegged as a reliever.

Floor

As mentioned above injury concerns are high with McCullers due in large part to his high effort delivery and not so projectable frame. There is a chance that he is the type of arm that flames out long before the majors. Given the fact that he has two plus pitches right now his floor could be that of a late inning reliever if he is able to make it to the majors.

Ceiling

Though he is an extremely high risk pick, the reward may be worth it if he is able to stick as a starter. His fastball-slider combination can be deadly, and if he can become more consistent with his curveball and changeup then he has the potential to be very tough to beat. He would also have to improve his mechanics consistency and also find a repeatable arm slot. According to Keith Law McCullers has been moving up draft boards all spring and has more scouts believing that he will be able to stick as a starter.

Projected Draft Round

Lance McCullers is projected to be drafted in the first round. Both Keith Law and Baseball America had McCullers going eleventh overall.

Will he sign

McCullers has a committment to the University of Florida. The question here probably lies with where he is drafted. If he is picked where he is projected then he would probably sign, but if he slides a little then he may choose to play college ball and build up his stock.

Bibliography after the jump

Video

The son of former MLB pitcher Lance McCullers Sr., McCullers has potential as a power bat, but his fastball has sniffed triple digits and he's flashed an above-average breaking ball. Scouts are split on his future as the spring nears, but he's a surefire first-round arm, and could break into the top 10, for clubs that view him as a long-term starter. The Florida commit struck out 79 in 52 innings last year while hitting .422 with seven homers and 24 RBIs. --Jason A. Churchill
Delivery/Mechanics: Simple lower half with consistent movements and good balance. Struggles with consistency in upper half; shows shoulder turn at times, while staying in line to the plate at others. Arm slot varies regularly. Excellent arm action with plus-plus arm speed. Drop and drive guy that pushes hard down the plane of the mound. Has effort in his delivery and has an inconsistent finish as a result. Looks down at the top of his delivery, losing his target. Would be helped by picking up his target sooner. - Baseball Prospect Nation
McCullers' arm action has some length thanks to a huge degree of scapular loading present in the pick-up phase of his delivery. It is a little atypical, think Daniel Hudson except from a 3/4 arm angle, but not necessarily a bad thing. He appears to have pretty good timing, strong hip rotation, and keeps his front side closed pretty well. He throws with some effort, which again isn't always a bad thing. There will be some who want to knock McCullers' mechanics but, unless we see something different in the future, we won't be among them. - Project Prospect
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