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North Carolina features strong prep arms

5/11/2012

Charlotte-area Providence (N.C.) High School righty Ty Buttrey was garnering heavy attention early in the year when he hit 96 mph with a knockout curveball and a parade of crosscheckers attending his starts. Buttrey ranks 34th on Keith Law's recent top 100 but it wouldn't surprise me if he snuck into the first round once you combine what I saw out of Buttrey with what he showed in earlier outings.

Buttrey stands a long, projectable 6-foot-5, 205 pounds with a quick delivery -- quick in its tempo and also in frequency as Buttrey is known for finishing complete games in well under two hours. His arm action and delivery are clean while his size and high three-quarter arm angle helps him get downward plane on his pitches.

I saw Buttrey work 89-92 hitting 93 mph whereas early in the year he was 92-94 hitting 96 regularly. There isn't a clear explanation for this drop-off, which doesn't mean it isn't coming back and many scouts assume it will. Buttrey showed an inconsistent 75-78 mph 12-to-6 downer curveball with above-average potential that many scouts said will flash plus with better feel in other outings. His most dependable secondary pitch was an 81-84 mph changeup that Buttrey pulls the string on with late dive and good deception. He wasn't throwing this pitch much early in the year, but it was consistently above-average for me and there's a chance it will be plus as well.

Buttrey's command wavered some when I saw him but he just lost his mechanics temporarily, flying open for an inning or two, regaining his touch later. It's worth noting Buttrey is a year older than many seniors as a 19-year-old that will be draft eligible as a sophomore if he makes it to campus at Arkansas. As a big, physical right hander with some polish and a non-zero chance for three plus pitches, Buttrey is an attractive upside play (Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers was at this start) that could sneak in the first round but some scouts will have trouble arguing for an older guy whose velocity has been down recently.


Bloodlines and Projection In Prep Star

The other first round prep prospect in North Carolina is Charlotte-area Northwest Cabarrus (N.C.) High School shortstop Corey Seager (brother of Mariner third baseman Kyle). Corey is bigger than his brother already at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds and will only get bigger with his highly projectable frame.

Seager is one of those players that scouts complain they need multiple games to get a good feel for -- he already carries himself like a pro and it's often hard to discern tools from these types in a short look. I didn't have that problem as Seager hit two homeruns to the opposite gap and pulled a double to right in his first three at-bats along with multiple defensive chances.

Seager's size combined with his longer actions mean he'll have to move to third base as a pro but his quick hands and plus arm will allow him to be at least above-average defensively at third. I didn't get a good run time, but he looks like a solid-average runner that should lose some speed as he fills out.

At the plate, Seager actually barred out (locked) his lead arm on the first homer he hit and also did it pregame in the cage. It didn't affect his bat path much and the pitcher wasn't throwing hard enough to make Seager pay, but his hands get very deep and the bat has a long way to travel. Seager has the bat speed to do this and will have to adjust some at the professional level.

All this said, Seager's second homer was a near perfect swing and he has a long track record of hitting, so I'm not too concerned he's going to hit. His raw power is about average now and the real allure of Seager is, with all the projection on his frame, you can project his power to be plus.

Seager has a strong commitment to South Carolina but, as most players, should be signable if he goes in the first round which he should (Keith Law has him 21st on the top 100). Scouts love bloodlines and projection and Seager has it in spades along with above-average potential on offense and defense.