John Stilson. Barret Loux. Alex Wilson. Brooks Raley. Michael Wacha?
The Aggies under head coach Rob Childress have churned out highly drafted pitchers, almost every season, but Wacha could end up going just as high as Loux, who was tabbed No. 6 overall in 2010. It's an impressive run for Childress, who came from Nebraska (back when the Huskers were, you know, good at baseball) where he was a pitching coach.
Why is that important? Because I think Childress does good work on teaching pitching and helps them develop pitches well. He's done it with good arms and can certainly recruit high-profile guys to college. With every successful college built around pitching, there are injuries. Much like Rice, the Aggies are developing a reputation for these guys going under the knife, but I'm not sure it's exactly warranted.
So, back to Wacha. I remember talking to him two seasons ago after a start and knowing he had a shot at being a first rounder. His stuff was good, but I came away more impressed by his understanding of what he needed to do and how he did it. Very advanced feel for a freshman, and he's only gotten better since then.
I know there are some reports out there that aren't as high on him. He's easily the fourth-best college guy on the board, but he's not really on the same tier as guys like Gausman or Zimmer. I wonder, though, if he's going to be better than a Taylor Jungmann, who went early last season.
Wacha has one pitch everyone loves in his change. It's lauded in pretty much every report you see, and if you watch the video on him, you can see why. His fastball is pretty good and his breaking stuff could use some polish, but overall, he has what you want out of a first-round starting pitching prospect.
He's also got a big frame, so scouts can probably dream on him becoming an innings eater later on in his career.
I don't know. I'd like to be higher on Wacha, but I think I'd just like to see more polish from a guy going that high. Maybe that's a product of this weakened class that he's going to be a top 15 guy.
Baseball America made a comment that Wacha had a higher floor than any of the top three college pitchers. I don't buy that. I think he's got injury concerns and that his floor is as a right-handed reliever with that change being his only plus pitch.
That'll depend on the breaking pitches. If his slider and curve can work to support that great change, he'll be a top of the rotation guy. If not? I guess he could move into a bullpen, but I bet teams are going to be disappointed if he ends up as a closer.
Most have him getting drafted in the top 15, but that could rise.
Will he sign?
He's going to get drafted in the top part of the first round, so I'd say he signs. There is no way he improves his stock any more with another season at Texas A&M.
Bibliography after the jump
Michael Wacha is a guy a lot of people have a love affair with. I thought he was just OK, which didn’t win me too many fans. Doesn’t really bother me. I went with what I saw and what my experiences teach me. I never said he wouldn’t be a big leaguer, I just wasn’t ready to put staff ace on him. He’ll get his shot and we’ll see what happens. As I like to say, the kids will show us what they’re going to be and not any of us rocket scientists sitting in the stands with a radar gun and a pencil can change what he is and what he’s going to be.
What we have here is a guy with a big gangly body with limited body control. His arm works nice full circle, but he doesn’t use his lower half, throws standing up, can’t get downhill, his arm leads to everything placing too much stress on his shoulder, lacks a put-away secondary weapon and he’ll be 22 at the signing deadline.
Other than that, I love him.
Baseball Prospect Nation
Potential for two plus pitches (FB and CH) with command of both. Relies too heavily on FB at times, at least in part because he lacks trust in the SL (or any breaking ball). Development of SL to even a "show-me" pitch would add another element to his game and allow him to become more refined in his pitch sequencing ability to work through a lineup. Works hard during his starts, doesn’t get rattled and shows little emotion on the mound. With two plus pitches and command, chance to be a solid number three starter. With an added SL that can be relied upon regularly, slim potential to be a low-end number two starter.
Wacha wasn’t drafted in the 2009 draft, but went to Texas A&M and immediately made an impact, with a 2.90 ERA in 105.2 innings, along with an 8.3 K/9 and a 4.4 K/BB ratio during his freshman year. Three years later, Wacha has moved to the first round, considered by many as a top ten prospect in the 2012 draft. He wouldn’t be a flashy pick, as he doesn’t have the upside as some of the other players at the top of the draft, but he’s described as a safe pick due to his arsenal of pitches, and his good control.
Wacha’s best pitch is his plus changeup. The pitch doesn’t have a lot of movement, but is effective due to his fastball command. His fastball sits in the 92-93 MPH range, and tops out at 94. He throws it on a downhill plane, and has great command of the pitch. One downside is that Wacha doesn’t have much of a breaking pitch. He throws a curveball, and has been working on a cutter/slider combo in the last year, but neither pitch really stands out.
Wacha has everything a team looks for in a future number one. He has great size (6-6 and 200 lbs), a blazing fastball (93-97 mph), and a couple of off-speed pitches (curveball and changeup) that have great potential. He has endured some questions, especially last season, about the legitimacy and quality of his curve/changeup combo, but this season both offerings have looked dramatically improved.
Wacha's stuff was downright electric. He sat in the 92-94 range early, topping out at 95-96 in the second. He held his 90-93 velocity into the ninth, and his last pitch of the day was a 92 mph fastball. As usual, Wacha's plus-plus changeup was a major weapon against both lefthanded hitters and righties. He threw it in the 83-86 mph range, and he got a number of swing-and-misses with it thanks to its hard tumbling action. He also recorded a strikeout in the second inning with his 81-83 slider, which he mixed in a handful of times throughout the game against righties. In the middle innings, he started throwing a 75-76 curveball for strikes early in counts.