By Contributing Writer: Chuck Boemmel Jr.
The MLB Draft will begin on June 12th. While not as sexy and popular as the NFL Draft, it does still draw interest from the fans. Selections made during the draft will impact the Major League clubs, just not as immediately as the drafts do in some of the other sports.
Photo: Baby Birdland
Mock drafts, albeit not as prevalent as in the NFL, have occurred and there are three players most commonly projected to be selected by the Baltimore Orioles: RHP Griffin Canning (UCLA), RHP Tanner Houck (Missouri) and SS Logan Warmoth (UNC). Mentioned to a lesser degree are 3B Jake Burger (Missouri State) and LHP D.L. Hall (Houston County HS, GA).
Canning, a 6’ 2” 180 lb. junior, is listed at #23 on the Baseball America Top 500 Draft list and at #17 on MLB Network’s Top 100. He was previously drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 38th round of the 2014 draft but chose to honor his commitment to UCLA.
Canning last pitched on June 2nd in the Bruins’ opening game, a 3-2 loss to Texas, of the Regionals of the College World Series (UCLA was eliminated from the regionals on June 3rd in a 13 inning 3-2 loss to San Diego State). Against the Longhorns he faced 30 batters in 7.2 innings and surrendered three runs (two earned) on six hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Canning was the losing pitcher in that contest.
Canning finished the 2017 season with a 2.34 ERA in 17 games (119.0 innings pitched) with 140 strikeouts, 32 walks and one hit batter; his record was 7-4 and he held opponents to a .213 batting average. He also fielded his position well: .967 fielding percentage in 30 chances with one error. That error occurred in the regional game against Texas; his regular season fielding was perfect. He did throw 3 complete game shutouts this season as well.
The career numbers for Canning are: 47 appearances, 43 starts, 292 innings pitched, 2.99 ERA, 19-13 record, 301 strikeouts, 59 walks, 11 hit batters and a .234 batting average against.
Canning is one of the 25 semi-finalists for the Golden Spikes Award in 2017, an award that goes to the Nation’s top amateur player, by USA Baseball.
Canning projects as a mid-rotation starter. Despite some criticisms of his size, he has a high pitcher’s IQ and shows the ability to outwit hitters. His scouting numbers (based on the 20-80 scale) are: fastball 55, slider 50, curveball 50, change-up 60, control 55, and overall 55. His fastball usually stands in the 92-93 mph range and has topped out at 95 mph. It is expected that his velocity may increase a bit. Canning contrasts that with a 84-86 mph change up, 84-87 mph slider and a 77-80 mph curveball. Depending on the scout asked, the slider or the changeup is his best pitch. His mechanics are sound and repeatable and he has shown the ability to get hitters to expand the strike zone with his four-pitch arsenal.
The first round of the 2017 Draft is where Canning’s name should be called. Keep in mind that the Orioles selected 27 pitchers with their 41 picks in 2016 and don’t be surprised if you hear them select Griffin Canning.