Name: Kodi Medeiros
Born: May 25, 1996 (18), Hilo, Hawaii
Height/Weight: 6'1"/190 lbs
School: Waiakea High School (Hawaii)
Kodi Medeiros is among the top high-school left-handed pitchers in the 2014 draft class. Medeiros began playing baseball at age 10, moving on from judo, a sport in which he won a silver medal in a national competition. His father credits the Japanese martial art with instilling in his son poise and self-confidence on the mound, and modesty in the face of being one of the top choices for the 2014 MLB Draft.
Medeiros came into prominence in 2012 when he and the Waiakea Warriors won their first state championship, beating the reigning champions in the process. The sophomore pitched against Pearl City, the 2011 champions, shutting them out in a complete game three-hitter, striking out eight in the process; his brother, Korin, had the game-winning walk-off RBI. The very next day, Medeiros came in to record the final three outs in the championship game.
Though his junior year was much anticipated, it was a big let down, as a muscle strain in his elbow limited the time he spent on the mound and left him at less than 100% when he was. "That really made me work hard to just be able to get back on the mound and throw like how I did during my sophomore year", Kodi said. "It just made me realize that after going through therapy, that I had to do all these exercises to keep my arm in shape." Medeiros was fully healthy when he attended the Perfect Game National Showcase, Perfect Game All-American Classic, the Area Code Games, and the All-American Game later that summer. With professional scouts in attendance, against the best high-school hitters from across the country, he dazzled and impressed with his fastball and slider.
Medeiros's fastball sits in the low 90s, topping out at around 95 MPH. Because of the angle he throws it from, it has heavy movement to it, running in on lefties and fading away from righties. His go-to off-speed pitch is his slider, a pitch that is considered among the best breaking balls thrown by a high-school pitcher in this draft. It clocks in at about 80 MPH with sweeping, frisbee-like movement and is already considered a plus pitch. In numerous state and national showcases, multiple high-school hitters have attested that his slider was the toughest pitch to face. He mixes in a low-80s changeup that, while nothing particularly special, has the potential become an above-average pitch with continued refinement because of the fade and movement he gets on it due to his arm slot. He has already improved upon it since showcases in 2013, so it may well turn out that the pitch become a legitimate third plus offering.
The Hawaiian southpaw has long arms, which he uses in a very slingy delivery. He normally throws from an odd three-quarters arm slot, but has shown an advanced understanding of pitching at times, purposely—as opposed to accidentally because of a failure to repeat his motion and release point—dropping down even lower at times to add extra deception and movement to his off-speed pitches. In so doing, he can make his slider more slurvy or more cutter-like depending on where his arm is and where he releases the ball. In addition, he is unafraid to pitch in on hitters and own the inside part of the plate. Though he has decent control, when his mechanics get out of sync or his slider has too much movement on it, Medeiros is prone to walking hitters.
The southpaw is committed to Pepperdine University, and is unsure whether he wants to sign professionally or continue his education. If he does elect to attend college, it is unlikely that he does so as a means to improve his standing in the draft. While it is, in theory, possible for him to clean up some of his mechanics, or showcase better control, Medeiros is already considered a first-round selection. Unless he wants to be the number one pick, it doesn't get much better than being considered a legitimate first-round talent.
What The Scouts Think
There is a lot of potential in Medeiros, but there is also a lot of risk, one of the reasons he might be the most polarizing player in the 2014 draft. Many scouts believe that his unique arm slot will open him up to mechanical inconsistencies, injury risks, and extreme platoon splits against more advanced hitters. As such, some see him ultimately profiling better as a reliever, as opposed to a starter. His slight frame doesn't help quell injury concerns, as even if he put on a some additional muscle mass it would probably mean little, since so much of the velocity and movement of his pitches come from his arm and not his body. Added strength would possibly improve his durability and in-game stamina, as his fastball does lose a few MPH in later innings, but probably isn't going to help the perception that he is undersized or an injury risk.
What Alex Nelson Thinks
A pitcher with some late helium, Medeiros has been seen throwing in the mid-90s recently, just as a lot of pitchers' arms are starting to get tired. That's one part of the Medeiros equation. The second part is his slider. It is unfair to ask a lefty to hit that pitch. And while I wouldn't go quite that far with regard to right-handed hitters, it has enough late break that most will merely pound it into the ground. It's a plus pitch. And the fastball is lively enough that the velocity he has plays up.
Unfortunately, it's difficult to get a handle on just how to project Medeiros's obvious talent. He throws from such an extremely low arm angle—I think it's even lower than Aaron Nola's—that it's virtually impossible to imagine him starting. I cannot think of a single left-handed, full-season minor league starter who throws from that low of an angle, let alone a major leaguer. I think he could be a closer. Or a setup guy. But the sidearm delivery, as well as the short stature, makes it difficult to project Medeiros as a starting pitcher when you cannot find a professional comp for him. It's not that it can't happen, it's that it is literally hard to imagine despite a clean, repeatable delivery. With the tenth pick in the draft, I don't know if I want to take the chance on a guy whose ceiling might be that of a closer.
"He could get out big leaguers right now and I'm not exaggerating."
—Matt Garrioch, minorleagueball.com