At six-foot-six and just 175 pounds, 18-year-old Trey Ball from New Castle High School in Indiana has an extremely projectable frame, one that experts agree will fill out nicely as he matures. Opinion, however, appears split between where he should play: pitcher or outfielder.
Who Could He Be?
The majors have few left-handed power arms whose fastballs average in the mid-90's. Tampaís David Price, Texasí Derek Holland and Los Angelesí Clayton Kershaw are members of a rare breed who can dial up that kind of velocity from the port-side. Because of that, Ballís immediate future may be as a pitcher. In 2012, during the Area Code games, Ball was averaging 92 with his fastball but peppered in a slow curve at 74. This year, at times, he was reaching upwards of 96. If he is able to maintain the arm speed and release spot with both pitches, the discrepancy could be downright criminal. Kershaw has struck out 67 batters in 64 innings this year thanks to the same variation between his fastball and huge hook. Landing a Kershaw-like arm would be a phenomenal get for the Twins.
On the other hand, if things should go awry with his pitching development, Ballís positional skills are highly thought of as well. Because of his big arm, his future in the field would most likely be as a right fielder. At the plate, Ballís abilities and style have reminded MiLB.comís Jonathan Mayo of Shawn Green. Green displayed 30+ home run power at the peak of his career, something that Ball may be capable of once he adds some muscle. It should be noted that Ball has been playing his senior year using a wood bat instead of a metal bat with which he could put up ridiculous video game-type numbers. His decision to challenge himself speaks well for his overall makeup.
How Soon Could He Be Playing In Target Field?
Itís never easy with pitchers. The Twins have had several of their high profile selections (Kyle Gibson, Alex Wimmers, etc.) require major surgery which sidetracked their path to the majors. The adage ďthereís no such thing as a pitching prospectĒ applies. Still, Ballís mechanics are relatively clean, his arm action is good and -- judging from the available game footage of him online -- his delivery looks fairly repeatable for a tall, lanky pitcher. One area that may take some polishing is his breaking ball. To avoid any injury to his arm in his formative years, Ballís father would not allow him to throw a curve, rather focusing on a changeup Ė which is a plus pitch for him and one of the more difficult pitches to develop later on (just ask Vance Worley). This edict meant Ball only last year began throwing curves and reports are that while the movement is good, the consistency is not quite there.
If The Twins Draft This Guy, They Messed Up BecauseÖ
On the whole, drafting hard-throwing high school southpaws has not been a great return-on-investment for major league clubs. Back in 2007, the Hardball Times published a study that showed as a group, high school power-armed lefties had an extremely poor track record of making it past Double-A within six years of the draft. Between 1996 and 2000, just 25% of those drafted made it past Double-A. The theory is that talent evaluators focus too much on the hard-throwing arm and overlook some of the other faults of the player. Could selecting Ball result in the same disappointment as with a large percentage of high school lefties before him?
If The Twins Draft This Guy, They Nailed It BecauseÖ
OK, so hard-throwing high school lefties are a big risk. So what? They are also a big reward if you hit on one. Mid-90's chucking lefties are hard to come by. Ballís skill set, too, presents a unique, built-in safety net in the event that he does flame out as a pitcher.
Previous Twins Daily Draft Profiles:
Monday, May 20 - Sean Manaea, SP
Tuesday, May 21 - Austin Meadows, OF