Jack Flaherty has a record of 23-0 over the last two seasons for Harvard-Westlake High and has a scholarship to play college baseball for North Carolina. But he recognizes something that could change his baseball future is entirely out of his control.
Major League Baseball’s amateur draft begins Thursday, and Flaherty will be watching with interest.
“I’m going to sit back and relax and let everything unfold,” the 6-foot-3 right-hander said. “There’s nothing left for me to do. It’s all out of my hands.”
Flaherty, the Gatorade state high school player of the year, could become the third Harvard-Westlake pitcher to be drafted in the first round. In 2012, Max Fried and Lucas Giolito were first-round picks.
Only the first round of picks will take place Thursday, which will be televised on the MLB Network starting at 4 p.m. PDT. There are 34 first-round picks and seven supplemental first-round picks. Additional rounds of selections will be made Friday and Saturday.
Candidates for the No. 1 pick include left-handed pitcher Brady Aiken, a UCLA signee from San Diego Cathedral Catholic High; right-hander Tyler Kolek from Shepherd (Texas) High, whose fastball has routinely exceeded 100 mph; and left-hander Carlos Rodon from North Carolina State.
Flaherty is expected to be selected near the end of the first round. One national cross-checker said last month after attending a playoff game in which Flaherty threw a no-hitter and retired 21 consecutive batters, “There's no doubt he's as good a high school pitcher as you can find.”
Flaherty is not left-handed, like Fried was, and he doesn’t throw 100 mph, as Giolito did, but his 92-mph fastball and ability to throw strikes with his curveball, changeup and slider makes him an intriguing prospect.
“Jack is willing to make the big pitch at the big time,” Harvard-Westlake Coach Matt LaCour said. “That’s a special quality when you have the stuff he has to go along with his competitiveness.”
Among Southern California high school players, outfielder Marcus Wilson of Gardena Serra, shortstop Josh Morgan of Orange Lutheran and La Verne Damien pitcher Grant Hockin are candidates to be selected in the top 50 picks. Wilson has signed with Arizona State, Morgan and Hockin with UCLA.
The top pro prospects from local colleges are both third basemen, Taylor Sparks of UC Irvine and Matt Chapman of Cal State Fullerton.