With their second round pick, 47th overall, the Angels selected RHP Griffin Canning, a junior out of UCLA. Canning was originally attracting scouts’ attention when he was pitching in southern Orange County (Rancho Santa Margarita), and in the 2014 MLB Draft, he was chosen by the Colorado Rockies in the 38th round.
He ended up going to college, though, and it was there (UCLA) that he dramatically improved his draft stock. An ok freshman year gave way to a good sophomore year and then a breakout junior season, that had the scouts knocking all over again. He was originally expected to go somewhere in the teens, but it was a recent MRI and the ensuing results therein that scared teams away and made him drop into round two.
Although he’s not a dominating hulk on the mound, Canning has no shortage of velocity, featuring a 90-95 MPH fastball generated with a quick arm and plenty of athleticism. Some scouts believe his fastball may increase another tick or two, and even if it doesn’t it already plays up due to the contrast with his secondary pitches.
He has a full arsenal with a curve, slider, and change-up at his disposal. Which pitch is best depends on the source: some say the curve is the best of the group, while other observers prefer the change-up. All agree that his arsenal is well-rounded and he mixes his pitches very well. His strikeout rate has increased this year, always a good sign, and he hasn’t had any trouble staying healthy. UCLA is one of the premier college baseball programs of course and Canning has the makeup and mound presence you would expect from their Friday starter.
While Canning throws strikes, his command within the strike zone isn’t always perfect and he doesn’t have the blistering fastball to get away with large numbers of location mistakes at the highest levels. He should breeze through A-ball but may need to make some adjustments in the high minors. His delivery isn’t 100% textbook, though he’s been more consistent repeating it this year compared to 2016.
With first round pick Jordon Adell being the high-ceiling, athletic youngster, and Canning being the more dependable and bankable (but still iffy due to medical stuff) college arm, I am really digging the Halos’ picks so far in the 2017 draft. Billy Eppler and crew are doing some strong drafting right now, and it feels good to watch them work.