It has been a while since we profiled a high school player, let alone a prep pitcher. However, Alex Scherff warrants that attention. At 6’4” and 205 pounds, Scherff is what they call, “a big boy” and he fits the mold of a Texas prep flamethrower. Inherent in all of this is a understanding that we’re talking about a lot of risk to take in the first round.
Over the past two years, Scherff transformed himself by losing almost 40 pounds. In doing so, he went from an 86-88 mph fastball to a mid-90’s heater. That experience, both the improved performance and the willingness to change, has endeared him to some scouts.
Selecting a prep arm is very risky since there’s usually a lot of mileage on said arm, relatively speaking. That is true of Scherff, who’s been pitching forever and a day. So if the Cubs select him at the back of the first round, the club takes on every pitch he’s ever thrown. Then again, they also take on every pitch he’s going to throw, too.
Scouts loved him in 2016 with his newly sculpted frame, particularly the way his excellent conditioning enabled him to maintain velocity. His changeup is a plus offering, but his curveball needs a lot of help. In the old days, we would have referred to his curve as “fresh meat.” That can be refined, though, so it’s not a big issue for now
With two plus pitches in tow, one of which can top out at 97, Scherff is likely a late first round/early second round pick. He shouldn’t be around at the end of the second with all of his talent.
This week’s profile
6’4” and 205 lbs
Committed to Texas A&M
Big Frame, lost 40 pounds in 2016
Velocity in the mid-90’s
Areas of Concern
Moved around a lot in high school
What Others Say
MLB Pipeline ranks Scherff at #41 in their top 50 draft prospects. They said of his arsenal:
His fastball jumped from the high 80s during the summer of 2015 to a consistent 93-95 mph with a peak of 97 a year later. He attributes the increase in velocity to better conditioning, as his heater took off once he dropped 40 pounds.
Scherff has one of the best changeups in the high school ranks, throwing it with deceptive arm speed and fade and earning plus grades from some evaluators. His three-quarters breaking ball is slurvy and lacks consistency, but he has flashed at least a solid slider at times. The Texas A&M recruit doesn’t have the most fluid delivery, which sometimes affects his control and leads to some debate over whether he’ll be a starter or reliever at the big league level.
The Cubs have never drafted a prep arm in the first round in the Theo Epstein era and I do not see that changing. If he slides down to round two, though, they could easily take him there.
Our next draft-related post will be a ranking of the profiles we’ve performed to this point.