The MLB Draft is coming up next week on Monday, June 3. Click here for my preview, exploring trends in past A’s drafts. Here is a profile of a player type the A’s have pursued but haven’t acquired recently.
Blake Walston, LHP | New Hanover HS (NC)
Size: 6’4” 175
Stats: 11-0 / 0.23 ERA / 61.2 IP / 17 BB / 120 K
Fangraphs Scouting Grades: (Future Value = 45)
Fastball: 45/55 | Curveball: 55/65 | Change-up: 40/50 | Command: 40/50
Walston is all about projection. Scouts think he can add 30-40 pounds of muscle, which would add to his existing stuff. His fastball sits 88-92 with a max of 93, and he shows very good feel for spinning his curveball. A two-sport athlete, the high school QB didn’t have much time for the summer circuit. He’s one of the biggest pop up arms in the Draft class, and he’s also one of the younger players available. He has a full ride to North Carolina State and scouts think if he goes to school he’ll go 1.1 in the 2022 Draft. He has plus athleticism, a clean delivery and he throws strikes.
Sometimes projects don’t work out. Kyle Twomey (2012) is an example from Oakland’s recent history where he didn’t develop as expected. There is always risk when you take a prep arm, and a minimum of three years to build up their workload. Walston is going to be a tough sign, with most projections seeing him as a late-1st/Supplemental Round pick. It will take the full slot bonus to sign Walston.
I started these profiles with a discussion on past trends. And really, HS southpaws are not a category of player the A’s have acquired since 2012. But the interest has been there. The A’s drafted but failed to sign Twomey in 2012. They were very interested in MacKenzie Gore in 2017 but San Diego got there first. Likely looked at Matthew Liberatore a good deal before gambling on Kyler Murray. Blake Walston is someone you must dream on and those that believe see a future #1/#2 SP.
Do the A’s share that dream? I don’t know. But if college trained options like Greg Jones and Michael Busch are off the board I’d like to see the team maximize the possible ceiling they can acquire. I’d want them to take Blake Walston.