A right-hander going first overall? Unheard of, right? How about one without any college experience and is a prep school star? Unthinkable. Riley Pint is sure doing his best to make people think otherwise.
Can he surpass high school lefty phenomenon Jason Groome as the top high school prospect in 2016?
Pint stands around 6-foot-5 and was listed at 195 last season. MLB Pipeline has him listed as 210 this season, which would mean he has added some weight to his slender, projectable frame. How has he used that weight? He added some heat to an already enticing fastball.
Riley has a fastball that sits consistently in the mid to upper-90s. He has hit 99 quite a few times and several prospect experts have reported that he has hit 102 in a summer showcase (although no video footage can be found of this). He has a big curve, reportedly of the 12-6 variety, which can be used as a “slurve” sitting in the low-80s. He has a changeup that hits as high as 88 miles per hour, but when you throw as hard as Pint, that’s a double-digit drop in velocity.
The issues Pint had in the past have improved this season, and those largely revolved around command and mechanics. Pint ditched basketball heading into his senior season, and that focus has led to improvements in his mechanics, and thus control and command, but he still has work to do.
When you are 18 years old and unleash 99 mile per hour heat on teenagers, you can get by without throwing many other secondary pitches. Thus, in the past, his offspeed and secondary pitches were often hit or miss. When they were on, they were nasty, but when they were off, they were all over the place.
There isn’t much to his bottom half. He does repeat his landing, aiming his foot at the plate over and over again, but he throws hard with a lot of effort coming from his upper body and arm. Some will wave the proverbial red flag and tell you that Pint is an injury waiting to happen from that alone.
When it comes to prospects with a lot of heat, the conversation always arises of pitcher versus thrower. Pint seemed to be a thrower, and when an thrower overthrows, wildness ensues. You can see that his pitches would land outside both sides of the plate, both up and down as well. If you pay close attention, you can see that he lacked consistency in a release point.
Fast forward to this season. Perfect Game was on hand for Pint’s first game of the season and it was a different story. Pint hit a grand slam in the top of the first and came out firing well-located 99 mile per hour heat in the bottom half of the inning. His curve, though seldom used, was effective and plus-material, and they raved about the change, not so much the speed but the movement.
It’s pretty simple when it comes to Pint. He has secondary pitches, but they need work. He has improved mechanics, but his arm slot and lower torso could use some fine tuning. Could he actually add velocity to his fastball should he learn to use his whole body? That’s a scary thought to opposing hitters if he can get that heat to dip and dink around the zone.
He has an electric arm and great athleticism, and seems highly coachable with the vast improvements he has made entering the draft. But Pint is a project. He comes with risk, albeit minimal, but he could just as easily throw his arm out as become the next Dwight Gooden or Nolan Ryan.
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