Reports were all over the board with him. He was ranked as the #89 player by Real Baseball Intelligence, and The Sporting News considered him a fringe first-rounder, but Baseball America didn't rank him among their top 200. Go figure.
Some think the Pirates made a slight leap to grab him in the second round because of signability concerns; others say he ideally fits the profile of a guy with exceptional fastball command and a viable change-up, two key building blocks of the Pittsburgh pitching philosophy.
Pounders wasn't coy about signing, even though he had a free ride to Southern Cal. He joined the organization in mid-June, signing at slot for $670K.
He was shipped off to Bradenton, where he worked 23-2/3 frames and had a 2-2 slate with a 3.04 ERA. Opponents hit .218 off him, and he K'd 20 and walked 11. His showing was good enough for Baseball America to select him as the #15 Gulf Coast prospect.
The righty was 9-2 with a 1.96 ERA and four complete games in his senior year in high school. As an added bonus, Pounders can also bring the lumber, with 17 home runs over his past two scholastic seasons, playing first when he wasn't on the hill. He was named All-State, MVP of the Southwestern League, and the North County Times' All-Valley Player of the Year.
Here's what MLB.com scouts think of him:
Fastball: Pounders threw his fastball in the 88-90 mph range. It has average life, but his command allowed him to keep the ball down at all times.Real Baseball Intelligence was quite high on Pounders:
Curve: It's a decent offering, aroumd 75 mph, that stays around the strike zone and has a solid rotation.
Slider: He threw it around 80 mph. It was tight with late bite.
Changeup: A plus pitch now, will be a solid out pitch.
Control: Throws strikes, has above-average fastball command. Will be a plus command guy in the future.
Poise: Good poise, works quickly, and has a no-nonsense attitude on the mound.
Physical Description: Big-body guy; doesn't look it, but actually is fairly athletic when it comes to repeating his delivery. Kind of a Jonathan Broxton type.
Strengths: Four at least average pitches from a high schooler. Works fast and throws strikes, the type who can throw a two-hour game.
Weaknesses: Will have to maintain his body. To get into the upper echelon, some would like to see an increase in velocity.
Summary: Pounders might be more substance than style. He doesn't seem to have the best body in the world, but he's more athletic in his delivery than you'd think. He won't light up a radar gun, but he does have four pitches he can throw for strikes. That kind of pitchability doesn't grow on trees, especially from the prep ranks.
Strengths:Pounders fits the Pirate mold of selecting tall trees for the mound, although he projects more as a finesse guy than flamethrower. If he can keep away from the Hi-Hos, his command and four-pitch toolkit give him a pretty high upside.
Brooks Pounders has excellent size and is a good athlete despite his girth. As his name suggests, he pounds the zone with three solid pitches: a plus changeup and an average slider and fastball. His command is excellent.
Pounders' fastball isn't as impressive as the other elite prep pitchers in this class. It's only 89 mph and it is fairly straight. Although he's tall, Pounders isn't long and lean like a lot of other high school pitchers.
Pitchers with average fastballs and excellent command tend to be underrated. Pounders may not be a first round pick, but in five years, he'll be one of the best high school pitchers to come out of this draft class.
We expect him to start the year at State College, though he has a chance, given his strong showing in the GCL, to land at West Virginia.
(Next: Brock Holt)