Meet the perfectly imperfect draft prospect.
College World Series-Check
Cape Cod Championship-Check
Cape Cod Co-MVP-Check
USA Collegiate Team-Check
Four Pitch Mix-Check
Good Strikeout rate-Check
Good college competition-Check
No major red flags in the delivery-Check
Ideal pitcher's frame-uhhhhh maybe not.
Walker Buehler checks a lot of boxes. A fastball that shows good life down in the zone and ranges from 90-96. He throws both a curve and slider and they both have shown potential of being above-average major league pitches. He also throws a changeup that is less consistent than the breaking balls, but also flashes above-average potential. Thats four pitches that can be at least average at the major league level. Paired with good pitchability that allows of him to change speeds effectively, the ceiling is quite high.
The biggest questions with him are that he's a 6'1" pitcher that might weigh 170 pounds. He doesn't look like a workhorse. But, the history books aren't void of pitchers with his frame. A good delivery and good training can keep you healthy. He comes from a program that has stood out in recent years of keeping pitcher's healthy due to using modern advancements in training at Vanderbilt.
Mechanically, he doesn't do anything that makes you cringe. Good arm slot. Good abduction and external rotation. Good deceleration of the glove side. Good forward rotation that allows for the release point to shorten the distance to the plate and provide a good deceleration path. He shows good pronation at release and through deceleration. He does get a lot of horizontal abduction early in the delivery which can add stress to the shoulder though.
I don't see ace upside. I see a guy who could potentially be a number two guy starter at the major league level due to a deep repertoire of pitches that can be slightly above average.
He doesn't come across as a guy you pull to the pen and see if his velocity plays up. With his pitches, I think the more likely floor is a number five/swing man.
Projected Draft Round
He's a sure fire first rounder. It's a matter of when in the first round. He was looking like he would be higher in the draft before the season but with elbow soreness early in the season that slowed his start has him a bit lower. I think top 15 is easy. Top 5-10 seems like the most appropriate and personally a steal in my opinion.
Will he sign?
He has a CWS ring. What else is there to achieve? He'll sign.
Buehler has a deep repertoire featuring four potential solid-or-better big league pitches and the ability to throw all of them for strikes. His best offering is his 90-96 mph fastball, and while he sometimes gets caught in between his curveball and slider, both can be weapons. His changeup similarly varies from inconsistent to effective.