We started to look at potential 2015 MLB draft picks for the White Sox with Carson Fulmer, who is still the leading favorite at the No. 8 slot across many mock drafts.
Our next guest hasn't been a mock selection for the White Sox, but he's a frequent-enough honorable mention that we should still familiarize ourselves with him. If nothing else, being Fulmer's teammate provides some additional context.
Who is Walker Buehler?
Buehler pitches alongside Fulmer in the Vanderbilt rotation, and he has a little bit of a height advantage. However, he's most generously listed at 6'2" and 175 pounds, so he still has to deal with the same frame questions.
He broke out as a starter in his sophomore year, going 12-2 with a 2.64 ERA and striking out 111 over 102 innings. Like many other collegiate pitchers in this year's draft class, his performance has taken a step back (3-2, 3.18 ERA, 74 strikeouts over 74 innings). Baseball America attributed it to a hectic postseason. He helped pitch the Commodores to their first-ever NCAA title, then pitched for Team USA, then pitched in the Cape Cod League, where he was named co-MVP of the summer league's playoffs. So the start of his 2015 was delayed by elbow soreness, and his performance hasn't been as crisp.
How does he rank?
What's his game?
If he were bigger, he could be a top-pick contender, as he comes equipped with three above-average pitches -- a fastball that sits 92-95, a curve and a changeup (he also throws a slider, but different reports lump it in with his curve). He's considered athletic and aggressive, which helps him maintain his delivery and keep his walk rate below three per nine innings. The biggest question about his arsenal is his fastball, in that it has good velocity but subpar life, which means a search for the latter may subtract from the former.
What does he look like?
Why would the White Sox draft him?
He's a collegiate pitcher who could be ready in a hurry, since he already has three or four pitches he can throw with some level of confidence -- and not just the confidence he's acquired from his big-game experience. The Sox aren't scared by frames, and he doesn't have the control issues that somebody like Fulmer does. Plus, his last name is an anagram for "Buehrle."
Why would the White Sox draft somebody else?
Reading the description of his arsenal -- 92-95 fastball, two breaking balls and a changeup -- it reminds me of Erik Johnson. The Sox liked Johnson enough to take him in the second round back in 2011, and Johnson rose quickly despite the various injuries he accumulated along the way, but we've seen him struggle when he doesn't have his best velocity. If the Sox don't think Buehler can maintain his top-end fastball into games, I imagine they'd want a pitcher with a more defined calling card.