By Jared Lankes
The Pirates selected high school pitcher Shane Baz with the 12th pick in the MLB draft recently, and he has already agreed to a deal with the Pirates after he was reportedly going to be a hard guy to sign, maybe even the toughest sign of the draft, because of his strong commitment to one of the nation’s best baseball schools in Texas Christian University (TCU). Now that he is going to be a member of the Pirates organization and was a top pick, we are going to hear about him for years to come. So, I think it is a good idea that we all get to know this young right-hander.
Shane Baz is a 6″3′, 190 lbs RHP out of Concordia Lutheran HS (same school Ke’Bryan Hayes went to) and is from Cypress, Texas.
He’s characterized as an athletic guy with a live arm that has his fastball topping out anywhere from 93-98 mph (regularly at about 94-96 mph) with somewhat of an inconsistent delivery, which is a problem that plagues a majority of guys his age. His fastball is rated as a plus pitch for him, but he owns at least two offspeed pitches that are also rated very highly, possibly three, even though he has five pitches in his arsenal at the moment. His cutter has developed nicely and is seen as almost as good as his fastball grade-wise, he also mixes in a slider that could become as good as his cutter as well, his changeup could end up being a big pitch for him if it develops, and his curveball is a pitch he likes to use but it’s far less developed than his others. His changeup and curveball are the furthest behind development-wise but both could still be average. The possibility also exists that one of the two may be eventually abandoned so he can focus on a four-pitch mix and mastering them. He is seen as having great “stuff” and is potentially overdeveloped for his age, which could lead to a quicker development for him than many that turn pro at his age, as he already has three pitches that are considered plus offerings.
Baz already having a great feel for three pitches in his arsenal at his age is something you don’t see much. This highly-developed aspect to him is a major bonus to have, especially if he dreams of getting to the majors as quick as possible, and I’m sure he and the Pirates would like that very much.
Like many pitchers his age, maintaining a consistent delivery and showing consistent control and command of his pitches is kind of troublesome, but as I said, not many pitchers his age has mastered that yet. His control and command is seen as below average right now but not to the point where it is seen as any sort of issue given his age and his “stuff”. He will have plenty of time to develop control and command of all his great pitches.
The main problem most people had with Baz was his commitment to TCU, not what he showed on the field. Now that he has seemingly committed himself to the Pirates, work can begin on this super-talented righty that certainly has potential to be a top-end rotation starter in the MLB in a few years if he doesn’t hit too many snags along the road.