Last year was an exceptional one for the state of Oklahoma. Its high school baseball programs gave Major League Baseball not one, but two potential star pitchers. And another three prep arms are loaded with potential. I personally cannot remember the last time I was this excited about the future of a state-specific draft class. It’s even more impressive coming from a state like Oklahoma that is not a baseball hotbed like Texas, Florida or California. The last top-flight prep arm to come out of an Oklahoma high school was Miami’s Chad James, a 2009 draftee.
Perhaps you’ve heard of Bundy, the best prep prospect to come out of the high school ranks since… forever? The teenager has carved his way through the low-A lineups. He’s given up just two hits and two walks in 20.0 innings of work. That is not a typo. Bundy finally gave up a run (although unearned) in his sixth start of the year. He’s whiffed 33 batters and is also getting a healthy number of ground-ball outs. Bundy could probably jump to double-A at this point and hold his own, although it’s hard to get a true read on his current skill level because he’s only pitching 3.0 or 4.0 innings at a time. As long as he stays healthy Bundy looks like a surefire of a No.1 starter – a comment I normally never make about a prep pitcher with six pro starts. You typically see top flight prep prospects reach the Majors in three to four seasons; Bundy could reach the Majors within one to two years.
Standing 6’4” and 225 lbs at the age of 19, Bradley is already a beast on the mound and should provide plenty of innings at the big league level. His fastball can hit the upper 90s and sits in the 91-95 mph range. He also has a curveball that shows plus potential and is working on developing his changeup. Bradley was off to a killer start to the season prior to Tuesday night when he allowed five runs (three earned) on four hits and two walks in 4.0 innings of work. It was only the second time he’s allowed more than two hits in a game and the first time he’s given up more than two runs. The biggest separators between Bundy and Bradley are the command and control. Bradley has issued 21 free passes (compared to just 13 hits) in 35.0 total innings. If he can sharpen those skills as he moves up the chain the right-hander could develop into a No. 1 or 2 starter at the big league level.
Although he’s not in the same class as Bundy or Bradley, Fulmer is a solid pitching prospect and has the potential to develop into a solid starter at the big league level. He currently throws in the low-90s and can touch the mid-90s. His repertoire also features a promising slider and developing changeup. Fulmer, 19, has been pitching well in low-A ball with 20 hits and six walks allowed in 22.2 innings of work. He’s whiffed 20 batters. The young pitcher has been operating up in the strike zone a lot so far, which has resulted in high fly-ball rates. The Mets organization signed a lot of intriguing prospects during the 2011 draft and Fulmer is definitely someone to watch closely.
Houser, 19, is another Oklahoma prep product with an impressive pitcher’s frame. Unlike the pitchers above he actually pitched quite a bit after signing his first pro contract in 2011. He made 12 appearances (11 starts) with decent results, including 44 strikeouts in 48.0 innings of work. Houser has yet to pitch this season and has been working out in extended spring training. He could be assigned to the short-season New York Penn League in June – or perhaps he’ll be challenged with an assignment to low-A ball. His repertoire includes a low-to-mid-90s fastball as well as a developing curveball and changeup; Houser currently projects to have the ceiling of a No. 3 starter.
Like Houser, Hope is currently in extented spring training but he made seven appearances (six starts) after signing in 2011. He allowed 27 hits and seven walks in 27.1 innings of work. Hope struck out 31 batters and produced an average ground-ball rate. Given an above-slot deal to sign, Hope has a lot of potential with slightly-above-average fastball velocity and a potentially-plus curveball. The development of his changeup will help dictate if he’s a future reliever or a starter with mid-rotation potential. He has a good pitcher’s frame but there is some concern with his delivery, which Miami may try and iron out. He was a teammate of Bradley’s at Broken Arrow high school.