Draft Prospect Watch: Dakota Chalmers is a Pitcher on the Move

Today we take a look at a high school pitcher that has really jumped up the draft charts since the preseason rankings. There is also a game recap at the bottom after the videos. The draft begins on June 8th and the Pittsburgh Pirates have the 19th and 32nd overall picks. The Pirates will have the 11th highest draft bonus pool.

When I did the prep pitcher draft preview back in February,  I used four different trusted sources and included any prep pitcher that was rated in at least one top 50 list. None of those lists included Dakota Chalmers, but that will change when new mock drafts start coming out. The 6’3″ right-hander out of Georgia is showing improved velocity this year, which is a continuation of what he showed last summer.

Perfect Game has a page for Chalmers, which can be seen here. On it you will notice that he has been heavily scouted over the years and he keeps getting better, so when people said that he was hitting mid-90’s in early March, he started to gain more attention. At the end of 2013, his fastball was in the 86-89 MPH range. Last summer, he picked it up a couple MPH and showed a four-pitch arsenal. A couple months later, Perfect Game had him hitting 92, but he wasn’t done. They got 93 MPH in September and finally, 94 MPH in October, when he again showed the makings of four solid pitches.

The first report on him this year was this tweet from Kiley McDaniel, in which he compliments his change-up. That is significant because last year’s report says it was a pitch he used the least and was the weakest of his four offerings. Chalmers finished the game McDaniel saw with ten strikeouts over 6.2 innings and allowed just four hits.

Chalmers pitched on Friday this week, got the win and struck out ten batters in six innings. This was actually the first I heard of him and then saw Jim Callis wrote on Thursday that he had moved into the top tier of pitchers in this class. I’ve included two videos below with the caveat that both are from action last year, so he has improved since then. The first is courtesy of Fangraphs and it features a handful of breaking balls with good movement. Both videos are less than a minute and give you two different types of looks at Chalmers.

The second video is from Jheremy Brown and focuses in on his delivery, which looks like it has some effort to it.

One game recap of note. I was able to catch the Tennessee/Vanderbilt tilt on Saturday. It was a game that featured three possible first round picks. Vandy’s Walker Buehler(drafted in 2012 by Pirates) and shortstop Dansby Swanson will both be drafted in the first round, while Tennessee left fielder Christin Stewart is a possible late first round pick.

Buehler looked amazing at the start, then ran into a lot of trouble. He was hitting mid-90’s consistently and filling the strike zone, as he set down the first eight batters he faced in about 20 pitches. With two outs in the third, he then gave up five runs on six straight hits and only a real nice play at second base kept it from even more damage. Buehler then settled down and worked into the sixth without allowing another run. He has a great fastball and a ton of movement on his breaking pitches, but he had some control issues, missing badly on his curves and leaving his fastball up. Buehler has a small frame, though he still maintained his velocity late.

Swanson will be a top ten pick because he has proven that he can handle shortstop and his bat is legit. This is the second time I’ve seen him play and he has made some above average plays look easy and the arm is good enough for the position. He is a patient hitter and makes solid contact.

This is also the second time I’ve seen Stewart and while there are things to like about him, he isn’t on the same level as Swanson. Stewart seems to have a lot of trouble with breaking pitches and looked bad a few times, both in this game and last time I saw him. There was a split with him early on and I’m assuming he looks better sometimes than others because he has hit six homers this year and a 1.043 OPS. He is 1-for-4 in stolen base attempts and the couple times he ran down the line, his speed looked average at best.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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Scott Kingery showed off some power last night, crushing a ball over the scoreboard in left field at Hi Corbett. I’ve never seen a ball hit that far at that field. Unfortunately, he didn’t look great otherwise.

In a couple years, Elijah Skipps might be a player to keep an eye on, too. He’s a big, strong kid (freshman this year) who can really run. I haven’t seen much from him yet, but he got his first start last night, and it looked like he had a good eye, not afraid of two-strike counts if the pitcher throws some good strikes early. He was DHing, though, so I don’t know how the defense will be.


Living just a couple miles from the field, getting discounted tickets, and loving baseball, I can’t not update on what the Wildcats are doing.

Oregon’s Friday starter looked pretty good, too, by the way, whoever he is. Got a lot of strikeouts against a team which doesn’t strike out much, Oregon’s defense was awful all weekend, though.

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