2014 MLB Draft Profile: Brett Graves, RHP, Missouri

Ryan Dunsmore

He's been drafted by Jeff Luhnow before and has seen dramatic improvements in his peripheral stats. There's good stuff and room for improvement.

Summary

Baseball is filled with connections. Manager A worked with player Z while at minor league organization T.  Player X and player Y were at major league club S together. Front Office member C and manager A were together at R.

Well, Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow was the Scouting Director for the St. Louis Cardinals three years ago when Brett Graves was drafted out of high school by....

St. Louis.

You know, Astros' Amateur Scouting Director Mike Elias was a scout with the Cardinals back then. Hmmm

It's been said that his size is what knocked his draft stock down to the point of being drafted in the 26th round. But, the 6'1" 173 pounder struggled with control in the early years which was a significant concern.

He has done nothing but answer questions all year as his peripherals have improved dramatically to a 1.74 BB/9 and a 6.19 K/9. Considering that he only had 32 strikeouts in 71 innings in 2013, that's a large improvement.

His velocity stays pretty consistent in the 91-93 range but can touch as high as 97 MPH. The breaking ball has some strange inconsistencies. He claims to use just one breaking ball, but it has a range of 77-86 MPH with 11/5 break. At times it looks like a curve and others it has sharper break and slider type action. That has resulted in reviews saying things like "his breaking ball will blend at times."  He needs to tighten it up and gain consistency. He also throws a cutter and a change up.

There is some work to do with his mechanics, but that isn't to say they're bad. He could benefit from an improved stride length and momentum coming out of the leg lift. His arm action is pretty clean and avoids some critical arm positions.  He does have some recoil in the deceleration phase but you can see his arm dramatically decelerate, so he does have some good foundational strength to work with.

Floor

Given his poor track record with strikeouts, I can hang late inning reliever floor on him. It's a middle reliever.

Ceiling

More consistent velocity and a consistent breaking ball, preferably to the curve end of the spectrum, combined with his affinity for heavy 4-seam fastball usage would do wonders his strikeout rate. He uses his fastballs (both 2 and 4-seam) 60-70% of the time, and combined with a curve in the same tunnel of a high 4-seam could so some damage.

That could give him the upside of a mid-rotation starter or a set-up man.

Projected Draft Round

Comp. Round to second round. I doubt he goes late first or lasts to 3rd round despite peripherals dropping late in the season.

Will he sign?

It's likely that he will. There is still some rawness to him and could continue to see improvements across the board, but the likelihood of improving is better in the minors.

Bibliography

Baseball America

"I want to call it a curveball and he wants to throw it a slider. We can stay in the middle and call it a power slurve. It is an 11-5 hard breaking ball," Hobbs said. "This sounds crazy but sometimes he works anywhere from 77-86 with it. When he is throwing it really hard, he has thrown it up to 85-86 this season. It is shorter in those situations, so scouts are seeing slider. It is the same pitch he is just throwing it harder."

A mid-80s changeup is his third offering, and Graves has integrated a high-80s cutter into his repertoire against lefthanded hitters that he uses fewer than five times a game, according to Hobbs.

Minor League Ball

Not imposing but features fastball that can touch 94 MPH; Slider shows flashes above average but needs to work on changeup; Rated 6th best prosepct in NECBL by BA; Previously drafted by hometown Cardinals in 26th round.

Frankie Pilliere

Brett Graves is the type of pitcher you get use to seeing in the Cape Cod League. He’s going to be a traditional, draft-eligible junior in 2014, and he has a very solid track record pitching at Missouri. The NECBL just typically does not get access to that type of pitcher. But, Newport got Graves in 2013, helping to form what was an astoundingly talented pitching staff. Following a spring in which he compiled a 3.80 ERA over 71 innings of work in the Missouri rotation, Graves blossomed in Newport, posting a minscule 1.00 ERA over 35 2/3 innings pitched, allowing just 20 hits in that span. Many coaches around the league dubbed him the most consistent starting pitcher of the summer. Graves brings more to the table than just consistency, however, boasting a 91-94 mph fastball that reaches 95 mph routinely. He also shows a feel for a sharp, 81-84 mph slider, but he needs to get more consistent with his command of it. The same can be said for his 84-87 mph changeup. Graves will also mix in a knuckle curveball and cut his fastball at times. Those secondaries, particularly his curveball and changeup, flash above average movement, and if he can command them more consistently, he has a deep, full fledged starter’s arsenal. The 6-foot-1 righthander also came up big in some significant moments for the Gulls this summer, showing a true calmness on the mound when the moment got bigger. He could very easily position himself in the top three round conversation come June.

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