School: Shepherd HS (TX)
Height/Weight: 6‘5”, 245
College Commitment: Texas Christian University
Tyler Kolek is the definition of a power pitcher and Baseball America say Kolek’s consistent high-end velocity is “unprecedented in the draft era for a high school pitcher” as he regularly sits in the high 90’s, touching triple digits and topping out at 102. His fastball has more than just extreme velocity though as it also features heavy sink to make it a true plus-plus pitch. He mixes it up with a hard slider that shows plus potential or more. Both his curve and change are a work in progress, but could end up average or better. Command also needs work.
“Kolek has pushed his fastball to 100 mph and above several times this spring, even out of the stretch. He throws both a 12-to-6 curveball and a sharp slider, and though the slider is newer to him, it has more upside. He rarely uses a changeup, but it has the potential to become an average offering. The only real knock on Kolek is that his control and command have yet to catch up to his premium stuff”. –MLB.com
“Huge arm that routinely can hit triple digits. Good breaking ball to go with it. Has shown a change. Raw. Needs refinement but will be in 1-1 conversation. Could be an ace. I don’t love the delivery but can’t question the potential. Can hit 102 and still has upside”. –MinorLeagueBall
“Kolek’s breaking ball was very good, flashing above average at times and having plus potential, but still needs some work. Kolek’s 79-81 mph slider and 75-77 mph curveball blended together at times. Kolek threw a changeup in warmups that looked like it could be a useable, average pitch” -Kiley McDaniel, Scout.com
“(When I saw him in April) Kolek didn’t hit triple digits, but he still worked with plus velocity. Kolek was 93-97, mostly sitting 95-96, showing good two-seam life on some of the pitches, with others straightening out because he overthrew them. He throws a hard, slurvy slider that is average to above-average when he’s pitching to a right-handed batter, 79-83 with sharp break and good tilt”. -Keith Law, ESPN
Note: these grades are my summations based on all readily available scouting information from sources such as Baseball America, MLB.com and ESPN (Present/Future, 20-80 scale):
Prospect Overview and Future Outlook:
Kolek is the last of the “Big 3” to be previewed here at FutureSox and general fan consensus is that he currently ranks behind (perhaps significantly so) both Carlos Rodon and Brady Aiken. Personally I think his ceiling is higher than Aiken’s due to Kolek having greater swing and miss potential in his arsenal, but he has a much smaller chance to reach his absolute upside and also possesses a much lower floor than Aiken. He Currently sits #3 on my board, but if both Rodon and Aiken are gone by #3, I would be very happy for the Sox to select Kolek as opposed to going with a safer, cheaper pick such as an Aaron Nola (who will be previewed in the coming days). In his most recent mock draft, ESPN’s Keith Law had Tyler Kolek going to the Sox at #3, stating that the Sox have been “locked in on Kolek for over a month,” and he says that the Sox would take Kolek over both Rodon and Aiken if they are available.
While having the elite velocity that Kolek possesses is a blessing, I do have some concerns that he could be susceptible to injuries as a result. His delivery does draw some concerns as it looks a bit max effort and may put a lot of strain on his arm down the line and he also doesn’t repeat his delivery that well at present. Of course trying to project pitcher health is a fool’s game, but there are at least some concerns when it comes to Kolek and his delivery.
At the moment Kolek is mainly fastball/slider and he doesn’t throw his change much in games. His upside is that of an ace power pitcher but he will need to make significant improvements with both his command and secondary pitches in order to realize this potential. If he cannot manage this then he should at least have a future in the bullpen, though his big frame, velocity and probable ground-ball tendencies should give him a great chance to start even if the change and command are below average. There have been some comparisons made to both Stephen Strasburg and Jonathan Gray, both of whom were drafted out of college and as a result were much more polished with both their command and secondary poitches than Kolek currently is, but it gives a point of reference for the type of upside that Kolek has.