Monday, May 30, 2011

OTF MLB Draft Peek: Joe Ross, RHP, and Josh Osich, LHP

We're winding down toward the MLB Rule 4 Draft, and as expected, Mock Drafts continue to pop up. Let's take a look at two draft prospects who are being rumored to go to the 29th slot in the 2011 Draft.

Joe Ross, RHP, Bishop O'Dowd HS

John Sickels in his latest mock draft has Ross going to the Giants slot. Ross is the younger brother of former top A's prospect and pitcher Tyson Ross, and much like his older brother, the younger Ross has an enticing arm and physical build for a pitcher.

At six-foot, two-inches and 190 pounds, Ross isn't as big as his older brother (who's six-foot, five-inches and 215 pounds), but he has a lot more room for growth and is a lot earlier in his development. Tyson didn't get drafted until after his collegiate tenure at Cal-Berkley. As for Joe, he is expected to go anywhere from the late first to supplemental round as a graduating high school senior. So, while Tyson was a little bit more developed as a pitcher when he was drafted in 2008, Joe may have more upside and ceiling than his older brother.

The one thing they do share in common is that they both have live arms and good stuff. Joe, according to MLB Draft Guide, throws his fastball in the 91-94 MPH range, and he has a "slider with plus potential." Ross does have a changeup, but according to reports, it is still a work in progress.

Mechanically, Ross throws from a three-quarter arm slot and his long limbs and athletic build adds to the deception of his delivery. Furthermore, according to MLB Draft Guide, he has showed good control in high school and is consistent with his delivery, a nice sign that he may be able to make the transition to professional quickly if he signs out of high school.

Currently, Ross is committed to go to UCLA, and head coach John Savage raves about Ross' potential. Savage said this about the Bay-Area pitcher:

”Joe is the best right-handed pitching prospect in California. He has a very athletic delivery and a fastball that explodes at the plate. We look forward to watching Joe compete for a weekend job right away at UCLA. His potential as a pitcher is unlimited.”

Of course, you never know about a coach's praise. He is a recruit of Savage, and I'm sure he wants him to sign, so the praise is probably to be expected. Nonetheless, Ross has all the tools to be a good Major League pitcher, and it's obvious that barring injury, he can develop when he breaks into the minor leagues. Of course, considering his age and where he is at in his development, Ross is going to need some time to develop, as is usually the case with pitchers drafted out of high school.

In terms of where he is now, Ross isn't exactly impressive in comparison to other pitching prospects out of high school currently eligible for this year's draft. MLB Draft Insider graded his fastball a 45, his breaking stuff and changeup a 40, and his control and command a 40. However, while it currently isn't impressive, they are positive that he can grow and develop, as his fastball potential is a 55, his breaking stuff a 50 and his control/command a 55. MLB Draft Insider was especially optimistic about his mechanics, as that seems to be the strongest part of his game, as they rated his mechanics currently a 50 with 60 potential.

Ross is a good story because he's a Bay Area kid and a familiar name amongst Bay Area baseball circles. Furthermore, if the Giants draft him, they must really like him, because they don't have to go far to scout him (Bishop O'Dowd is in located in Oakland). With a baseball family pedigree, a live arm, and a need to upgrade the pitching depth in the minors, the Giants would seem to be a prime fit for Ross.

Josh Osich, LHP, Oregon State

Baseball America has Osich going to the Giants in their latest mock draft, and he is a live-armed lefty out of Oregon State who comes with some red flags. Last year, he was shut down for the year in 2010 due to Tommy John surgery. However, Osich this year has come back with a fury, with his most notable performance being a no-hitter against UCLA on May 1st.

The big story of his no-hitter was that it came in a duel against UCLA ace Trevor Bauer. For those who don't know, Bauer is one of the top pitchers in the country, and is projected to go in the Top-15 of this year's draft.

Despite the injury concerns, Osich has the size and stuff to become a legitimate Major League pitcher. At six-foot, three-inches and 225 pounds, Osich is a hoss with an intimidating presence on the mound. According to MLB Draft Guide, he throws a mid-90's fastball with an above average changeup. He is also starting to throw his breaking ball again, which he waned off of to protect himself after Tommy John surgery.

John Klima of Baseball Beginnings was very positive about him in his scouting report, and felt that despite his injuries, he was still a player that would fly off the boards, especially after all the buzz generated from his no-hitter against the Bruins, a pretty quality baseball program. Here is what Klima said in his scouting report:

"I first saw him in Palm Springs in 2009 he threw 97. In this look he sat 92-93 with a bump to 94. The velocity isn’t what it used to be, but it will be enough. He’s throwing from a mid 3/4 slot and sometimes drags his arm, which isn’t my favorite for any pitcher, but teams will look past that to get the left-handed power while they can get it. He’s still downhill enough to make it work, especially in this look, where his fastball was getting late cut into right-handed hitters. His second weapon for right-handers is a 80-82 change, both straight and with occasional sink, and he had good feel on this. There’s not a lot left to dream on here with this boy. He’s close to physical maturity and he won’t throw any harder, so you can expect him to be fast tracked."

In comparison to Ross and other high school pitchers in this draft, Osich doesn't have that much of a ceiling. That is clear in his scouting reports according to MLB Draft Insider, as he only has a 50 potential in terms of his changeup and control/command, and a 55 potential in terms of mechanics and delivery and breaking stuff. The highest rated aspect of his game may be his fastball though, as MLB Draft Insider rated his fastball a 65. This is entirely possible, as he is coming off Tommy John, and before, reports had him clocked in the 97 MPH range.

Osich looks to be a polished left-hander with back of the rotation potential, but perhaps could find some solidity in the bullpen down the road. If the Giants want a guy that can advance through the system quickly, Osich may be their guy, as he has a lot less room to develop in comparison to Ross. I'm not thrilled about the injury history or his mechanics, but history has showed that pitchers have rebounded nicely after Tommy John, and the Giants pitching staff in the minors has done well in terms of working with pitchers with mechanics issues (Zack Wheeler being the biggest example).

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