In the later stages of the draft, by which I mean anything after round 10, almost any player you draft will either have only one or two things going for him or he’ll have something huge hanging over his head, typically signability concerns or a very lengthy injury history. You aren’t getting good prospects anymore unless you’re willing to pay.
Dallas Baptist University’s Joe Shaw, the Mets’ 12th-round pick, is one of those prospects in the first category. He has one thing that makes him appealing and is otherwise deeply flawed as a baseball player. That said, I think he’s a good gamble and could at some point make a team’s big league bullpen. It’s still an uphill battle, but he has a better chance than many.
The reason he has a better chance than many is his fastball: in short stints, Shaw has been clocked as high as 97. It’s easy to imagine a 6-foot-5, 220-pound pitcher throwing 97, but you’d also picture a pitcher like that being able to maintain that velocity. Unfortunately he can’t. After moving into Dallas Baptist’s starting rotation in 2015, Shaw’s velocity sank like a stone, falling to the 88-90 range and brushing 94 early on. While it’s possible that he’s hurt, it’s also possible he just doesn’t have the stamina to extend that velocity deep into starts, which will almost certainly confine him to a bullpen role.
Of course, fastball velocity and arm strength are not the only things that define a starting pitcher, and plenty of guys stick around throwing 88-92. Those guys usually have top-flight breaking stuff or a tremendous ability to change speeds or exquisite command. Shaw doesn’t have any of those things. His curve is mediocre, coming in around 75 miles-per-hour with wobbly break, and he’ll also throw a telegraphed changeup that’s just too soft. And while he throws strikes, his command is fringe-average.
Mechanically, he’s a mess, and the Mets won’t have to look hard for things to fix. He’s too drop-and-drive in his delivery, so beginning his momentum before separation. He doesn’t stride far enough and lands stiffly and abruptly on his landing leg. His arm action is too long, his forearm tenses too soon, and he pronates too late, putting stress on his shoulder and elbow. He doesn’t really know what to do with his glove side. He’s a big guy and doesn’t appear to be the most athletic of pitchers, so I do wonder how much of an ordeal t will be to clean up those mechanics.
Although they have very, very different frames, Shaw reminds me quite a bit of Ty Bashlor, the Mets’ 11th-rounder in 2013. Bashlor was short, but could throw 97 in short bursts, had poor mechanics, and mediocre offspeed stuff, although Bashlor’s breaking ball showed a little more promise than Shaw’s. Like Bashlor, and despite his size advantage, I just cannot envision Shaw anywhere but a bullpen.