Kyle Muller of Dallas Jesuit High School has been named the Gatorade National High School Player of the Year. He received the trophy this morning from Texas Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels.
One of the best things to see in baseball is a kid from your home town succeed in the MLB. Kids who went to the same schools, was a fan of the same teams, and experienced the same things you did growing up adds a personal feel to the guys you watch make millions of dollars playing the game you love. Cameron Rupp, a catcher on the Philadelphia Phillies, and I played at the same high-school for a year before he graduated and went on to bigger things; watching him take his first swings in the MLB was a surreal experience and it does make you feel proud that someone you know made it. Kyle Muller is one of those home town kids in Dallas and he has earned the title of Gatorade National Player of the Year for 2016.
Kyle Muller is graduating from Jesuit Prep School in Dallas, Texas this season and will be entering the draft here in a few days. Kyle has an interesting profile, as a 6'6" 240 pound 18 year old who is an excellent high-school pitcher and hitter. As a left handed pitcher, Muller logged 164.2 innings where he struck out 266 and maintained a 1.02 ERA. As a right handed hitter, Kyle slugged out 15 home runs, 8 doubles, and 5 triples in 139 at-bats to go along with an 18/23 K/BB ratio. Kyle played CF when he wasn't pitching and actually did not look out of place there as he is fairly athletic and speedy for a 6'6" behemoth. There is no doubt Kyle Muller deserves to be awarded for his play in high-school, but his draft profile is a bit more difficult to nail. He is expected to go into the draft as a LHP, so let's start there and look at where this local grad could end up in the 2016 draft.
Kyle Muller - Left Handed Pitcher
The more likely outcome, Kyle Muller has the profile to be one of the top prep-school pitchers in the 2016 amateur draft. Muller has a tall body and uses his height and wing span in his delivery that really makes it hard for hitters to pick up the ball out of the hand. Muller's mechanics are fairly raw and he doesn't get his hips/legs involved much in his delivery, which could mean that he could add some velocity to his fastball as he progresses through the minors and his delivery changes. Muller's velocity does seem to come easy though as his delivery is low effort. He shows no signs of scary motion mechanics that lead to arm injury problems, such as the inverted W, and his well-developed body and athleticism seem to suggest that he has a better chance than most to stay healthy.
As it is now, Muller sits right around 91 MPH with excellent feel for the zone and the ability to command it at a much higher level than most raw high-school pitchers. The fastball overpowered even the best hitters at this level and as he progresses through the minors it should continue to be a plus offering due to his command and feel for the pitch. If he is able to add on some velocity without sacrificing command, it could be one of the better offerings in the minor leagues. Muller also is praised for having a pretty developed 12-6 curveball which he throws fairly often to keep hitters off balance. The curve has standard movement and can get loopy, but he locates it well and due where the ball comes out of his hand it is sometimes hard to pick up out of the hand. Muller's true problem is the complete lack of a change of pace pitch. This lack of a changeup is a big question on his future profile as a starting MLB pitcher as without one, he will likely be relegated to the bullpen. A good changeup is hard for a lot of pitcher to develop due to it being a "feel pitch" and some teams might be hesitant to draft a pitcher who has shown no aptitude for one at this point.
Kyle is most likely going to go in the first few rounds of the draft, but due to his commitment to the University of Texas if he's not guaranteed a high enough bonus, he might just walk away and go to college. Muller has been placed on draft boards as low as the third round and as high as 24th at MLB.com. As Muller is a high ceiling pitchers with a moderately high risk that his future is in the bullpen I would guess that he will be taken in the supplemental part of the first round if there are no signability issues. There is a good chance that a team in the early to middle first round decides the upside is worth the risk as Keith Law has suggested in his latest mock drafts. If he does make it to the supplemental rounds the Rangers, who love them some risky first round picks, should be interested in considering the pick.
To add onto this, a scout we spoke with said that Muller is probably going to go in the first round as a LHP, but that his team was too concerned about the lack of secondaries to draft him that high. Also stated that Muller would probably need to develop a slider to succeed.
Kyle Muller - OF/1B
The second player we will be looking at is Kyle Muller, a 6'6" center fielder from Jesuit Prep in Dallas, TX. Muller is not going to be playing CF much in professional leagues even if he decides he wants to hit instead of pitch. His athletic profile and big arm make him a good fit for right field. It helps that Muller is fast for his body, running a 6.88 60-yard dash his senior year and he should have the range to stick in the OF. It is going to be a shame if he is drafted as a pitcher because Muller has a very pretty swing for a high-schooler. Kyle has a small leg kick with a moderate coil of the hips and he lacks any bat wrap or excess movement in the hands or arms. He unloads with good bat speed and keeps the weight on the back foot generating power while controlling his head through the swing. His swing does appear to lack separation and you would like to see the hands stay back a bit longer while his hips start their rotation, but all in all his swing is very advanced. As a bonus, Kyle also has an advanced approach for his age, sporting a 13.9% BB rate. Here is a great video from The Prospect Pipeline demonstrating his swing in slow motion:
As a position player, it wouldn't surprise me to see Muller taken as early as the supplemental round in the 1st round. Teams will want him to go as a pitcher due to his big arm, but the Rangers last two top 10 prospects have shown that sometimes it can be worth it to take a chance on a kid if he wants to hit and shows the ability. Muller's situation is actually fairly similar to Joey Gallo's was. Gallo was considered to be one of the top pitching arms in the draft, but also showed massive raw power in high school and wanted to hit home runs as a professional hitter. His stock dropped, but the Rangers gave him a shot to hit with their supplemental pick in the 2012 draft and it turned out to be a very good decision. Muller doesn't have the raw power Gallo had, but he flashes above average raw and his hit tool grades well too.
Most likely though, Muller goes as a LHP in the early rounds and never looks back. Regardless of what happens, Muller was one of the best high-school players in 2016 both as a pitcher and as a hitter and that is something to be applauded. This local kid could go a long way and no matter where he ends up, his home area will be watching and celebrating with him every time he succeeds and mourns with him through the hardships. And one day you may meet a kid watching Kyle Muller pitch on the big screen and you will hear him say, "I had the opportunity to play with that guy in high-school".