Throughout this “journey” (sorry, I’ve been watching The Bachelorette lately), we’ve tried to avoid subjectiveness and Grantland Rice-esque “hero worship” — and in our opinion, we’ve accomplished that goal*. With the draft approaching (Monday, June 6th: Round 1 // June 7th & 8th: Rounds 2-50), though, we wanted a definitive, unbiased report. So we tracked down Baseball America to gather their thoughts on Tucker’s draft status. Below is an objective perspective, courtesy of Baseball America correspondent Matt Forman. Many thanks to Matt, and also Will Lingo, editor of Baseball America.
*(Wait, since we offered our opinion on our opinion, is that statement even credible? Confused? Let’s just move forward…)
By Ian Rebhan ’12 & Kyle Woody
ICSMMblog: When and how did Tucker Healy get on the Baseball America radar as a 2011 MLB Draft prospect?
Matt Forman: I don’t want to speak for everyone at Baseball America, but Tucker really emerged as a draft prospect last summer during his stint in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, when he was named the league’s top relief pitcher. Talent-wise, it was a banner year for the NECBL, and Tucker put up some impressive numbers, which caught the attention of scouts. He entered the 2011 season as a Division-III Pre-Season All-American, and that made Tucker’s name one to follow throughout the spring. He has been on my Northeast/New England radar throughout the process of talking to coaches and area scouts from the region.
ICSMMblog: As a Division III prospect, what misconceptions and/or stereotypes — if any — must Tucker overcome in the eyes of scouts?
Matt Forman: Scouts will question the quality of competition Tucker has faced at Ithaca, given that it’s at the Division-III level. But for the most part, everything will level out once Tucker gets drafted and begins playing professionally. Performance is the only thing that will lead to promotions, so Tucker, like everyone else, will have to prove himself every step of the way.
ICSMMblog: Based on your research and conversations with scouts, how does Tucker compare to other Division III prospects in the 2011 Draft? How does he compare to all draft-eligible players?
Matt Forman: I’ve only concentrated on the Northeast/New England draft-eligible prospects, so it’s difficult for me to talk about the rest of the Division-III class. But coming into the season, Tucker was considered among the top five Division-III prospects for 2011, and he’s right up there with fellow New York D-IIIer Jerry Coleman, from Clarkson. In terms of where Tucker stacks up with the rest of the state, he ranks as the No. 18 prospect in New York in the early iterations of Baseball America’s state-by-state lists.
ICSMMblog: Are there any current MLB pitchers — or recent draftees — scouts compare Tucker to?
ICSMMblog: Please describe Tucker’s skills and “upside.” Also, feel free to reveal any areas scouts think Tucker needs to work on or tweak for the next level of competition. For example, per conversations with area scouts, some evaluators believe Tucker has an “effortless arm action” with a repeatable delivery, which projects as increased velocity.
Matt Forman: Scouts say Tucker is an undersized right-handed pitcher with, as you mentioned, an easy arm action and repeatable delivery. He’s athletic, and he played two years of high school varsity basketball. His fastball mostly sits in the upper 80s to low 90s, though he has touched 94 mph in the past, which shows that there could be more velocity to come. Scouts always look for a pitcher’s ability to spin a breaking ball, which Tucker can do, and he has a developing changeup.
The biggest thing Tucker needs to do? Pitch. In three years at Ithaca, he hasn’t quite thrown 75 combined innings, and time on the mound is crucial for a pitcher’s development. He has spent most of his career in the bullpen, which has limited his innings. A team might ask him to be a starting pitcher at the lower levels of the minor leagues in order to get more innings under his belt. That would give him a chance to throw his changeup more often and build arm strength.
ICSMMblog: Outside of tangible skills, is there any talk about his composure or ability to perform well under pressure?
Matt Forman: I haven’t talked to scouts specifically about Tucker’s composure or ability to perform well under pressure, but scouts have highlighted that his makeup is one of his strengths. He’s considered a good student and a generally good person, and that only helps him.
ICSMMblog: Based on your expertise and familiarity with the 2011 Draft, what round do you think Tucker will be selected?
Matt Forman: Everything I’ve been hearing suggests that Tucker will get selected in the 25-35 rounds range as a “summer follow.” Tucker has a contract to pitch in the Cape Cod League this summer, and the team that selects him likely will let him go to Chatham and see how he performs before signing him to a professional contract. Tucker will have a chance to prove himself among the nation’s top prospects.
ICSMMblog: How does Tucker project at the next level? What is his ceiling?
Matt Forman: It’s hard to identify Tucker’s ceiling, as he hasn’t pitched an overwhelming number of innings. Because he hasn’t started, he projects as a bullpen arm at the next level. With his current repertoire, Tucker could profile as a middle reliever. If he adds a little velocity, he could pitch in the later innings.
ICSMMblog: Any other final thoughts on Tucker?
Matt Forman: Some scouts said it was difficult to see Tucker pitch this spring, as he suffered a back injury that kept him out for part of the season. Additionally, given that Tucker was pitching in a relief role — and this applies to most relief pitchers — it’s hard for scouts to spend an entire weekend series waiting to see a team’s closer.