Yelm High School held its graduation ceremony Sunday at the Tacoma Dome, and now a day after receiving his high school diploma, ace pitcher Parker McFadden will turn his attention to what could be his professional baseball future.
McFadden and his mid-90s fastball, attracting 15-20 pro scouts at every one of his starts this spring, is projected to get drafted in the first five rounds of the Major League Baseball First-Year Players Draft, according to Tornados coach Brady Hoover, one American League scout and multiple mock draft websites.
The draft begins at 4 p.m. Monday with the first and second rounds, and competitive balance and compensatory picks. The third through 10th rounds are Tuesday followed by rounds 11-40 on Wednesday.
According to Baseball America, McFadden, who has signed with Washington State University, ranks No. 82 on the top 100 draft prospects, which would slot him as a third-round pick.
Whenever McFadden is taken, he’ll be Yelm’s first draft pick out of high school since Jarod Matthews in 2001 when Tampa Bay selected the pitcher in the 21st round (No. 619 overall). In 2005, Yelm graduate Jacob Butler, an outfielder, was the Toronto Blue Jays’ eighth-round selection (No. 236 overall) out of the University of Nevada.
One American League scout compared McFadden’s frame, strength and long arms to nine-year major league pitcher, Pasco native and former Seattle Mariner Jeremy Bonderman, and McFadden’s “electric” arm to current San Francisco Giants pitcher and ex-Liberty High of Issaquah star Tim Lincecum when he threw 98 mph for the Washington Huskies.
McFadden’s fastball topped out at 97 mph this spring.
“It’s something you don’t see in a high school kid,” said the scout, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “He’s one of those kids that doesn’t come around that often.
“You hardly see that in the Northwest.”
McFadden’s heat on the radar gun was the headliner all spring, but his change-up and an improving breaking ball have many teams believing McFadden has the tools to be a reliever in the pros, the scout said. When speaking of the breaking ball, the scout said while it was inconsistent at times, it was impressive on good days.
“His breaking ball has a chance to be plus at one time or better than big-league average,” the scout said.
The right-hander, the unanimous Class 4A Narrows League’s pitching MVP as a senior, threw 44 2/3 innings, allowing only 10 hits with a 0.78 ERA and 89 strikeouts, but his season was cut short just prior to Yelm’s appearance in the 4A West Central District III tournament because of a left hamstring injury in a non-baseball-related incident. It also kept McFadden from pitching against playoff-caliber lineups.
Hoover said while the 6-foot, 175 pound McFadden isn’t 100 percent yet, he’s close, and the injury didn’t affect him during recent pre-draft workouts.
“He’ll be fine,” Hoover said.
Hoover estimated between 15-20 representatives from organizations attended each of McFadden’s starts, which included three one-hitters (Gig Harbor, Timberline, Olympia) and a no-hitter (Stadium). A first-inning hit batter kept McFadden from a perfect game in the 12-0 seven-inning win over the Tigers at Heidelberg Park on April 20.
Timberline’s Matt Mercer didn’t play high school baseball his senior season, and hasn’t pitched since tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow that required Tommy John surgery in August.
If a pro team still takes a chance on Mercer, who has signed with Oregon, it’ll be in the later rounds, his father, Don Mercer said, who noted scouts kept in touch about his son.
Had Mercer stayed healthy, Matt Acker, who coached the Blazers in 2013-14, said Mercer would’ve been a projected third- to fifth-round pick, but added his senior-year progression might have increased his draft stock to a possible first-rounder. As a junior, his fastball topped out at 93 mph.
In the fall, Mercer signed with the Ducks. The program and coaching staff remained loyal after his injury. That, along with the Ducks’ sparkling facilities, have Mercer excited about heading to Eugene.
“They were one of the few teams that stuck with me through everything,” Mercer said. “It worked out for the best.”
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473