A week ago at Miller Park, the home ballpark of the Milwaukee Brewers, recent Waiakea graduate Kodi Medeiros had his last official pitching workout, and it instantly became a profitable day for the 18-year-old.
The left-hander faced four batters, and recorded two strikeouts and two ground outs. One of his fastballs was clocked at 97 mph, his top velocity. That tags him as one of the hardest throwers in the Major League Baseball draft, which runs Thursday-Saturday.
Equally important was his physical. Medeiros measured in at 6 feet, 2 inches and weighed 196 pounds, debunking all the mock drafts that describe him having a “small frame.” San Francisco Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner, the comparison model for Medeiros, is 6 feet 5.
Medeiros is in New York with his parents, Robert and Kori, and brother, Korin, and will attend the draft at MLB.com’s studio in Secaucus, N.J. Medeiros is one of seven top draft prospects invited to the draft.
He met with Kansas City Royals on Monday and the Arizona Diamondbacks last Wednesday. He didn’t throw for either team. The Brewers have the 12th overall pick, the Diamondbacks the 16th, and the Royals the 17th overall of the first round.
“It was really great to see other potential draft picks at Milwaukee,” Medeiros said. “One scout said I touched 97 mph. I’m happy about that. Miller Park is a pretty cool stadium to pitch in as well. In Arizona, I met with the scouting director (Ray Montgomery), and he gave me a tour of the spring training complex for the minors and majors. It’s pretty incredible.
“I met with the Royals and it was pretty much with their scouting director (Lonnie Goldberg), several other scouts and the general manager (Dayton Moore). We talked story, and they asked how my spring went, and how the whole draft process is going. That ballpark (Kauffman Stadium) is really nice with the big crown in center field and the waterfall is really great.”
As expected, MLB teams have asked about Medeiros’ signing price. The family has stuck to a blanket statement — to wait until everything falls into place and not commit to any number. (For the first 10 rounds, there are MLB assigned draft pick values.)
MLB is giving Medeiros and his family the royal treatment. On Thursday, they’ll tour Times Square, Citi Field (home of the New York Mets) and meet Hall of Famers before the draft.
Medeiros isn’t concerned about turning into Johnny Manziel and watching his stock fall. He’s projected to go in the first round, which would make him the first from the Big Island out of high school.
To what team is anybody’s guess.
“I’m not worried,” he said. “I’ve done all I could. I’ll wait and see what happens.”
For the season, Medeiros finished with a 7-1 record and a 0.97 ERA in 43 1/3 innings. He allowed only 14 hits and 15 walks, and struck out 83, touching 96 mph a few times and consistently throwing his fastball in the neighborhood of 90 to 92 mph.
The MLB draft is a different animal than that of the NFL or NBA drafts. The latter two drafts don’t allow players to return to college, knee-capping the financial leverage of prospects.
That’s not the case with the MLB draft, where the best commodity is being a high school top prospect with a scholarship in hand. Medeiros has a full-ride to Pepperdine, a great bargaining tool.
Milwaukee’s No. 12 overall spot has a value of $2,805,700. It’s a $2 million signing bonus until the Cleveland Indians’ 21st overall selection.
“It’s not super clear where Kodi will go. But he has a great chance to go in the first round, the top 10 to 30 picks,” an MLB scout said. “It’s really hush-hush, especially with signability for everyone. Not even MLB knows where everyone is going to go. Everyone is still guessing.
“Depending on who you talk to, he’s one of the top five to 15 arms in the country. But as far as pure pitching stuff, there isn’t anybody better with pure stuff. There may be some as good or do a few things better because they’re older and in college.”
The scout said Medeiros’ 97-mph fastball at the Milwaukee workout last Thursday, and his measurements should only boost his value. He noted that organizations stopped sending scouts to Hawaii because Medeiros won’t likely last past the first round.
“A lot of media on the mainland think he’s 5-11 or 6 feet and call him a small lefty,” the scout said. “The fact is he’s still growing and measured at 6-2 and 196 pounds at Milwaukee. There’s no question he’s more valuable as a left-hander with his stuff than as a right-hander.
“With his power stuff, it’s so hard to find left-handers who can throw 95, 96, 97 mph as an 18-year-old. There are only a handful on the planet who can do that.”
Medeiros looks like a pitching clone of San Francisco’s Bumgarner from the takeaway to the same arm slot and delivery, staying on top of the ball and still driving it down. Medeiros isn’t three-quarter or side-arm. He’s something in-between, which gives his slider its sweeping movement and a grade as a plus MLB-quality pitch from scouts.
“Most of the top left-handers like Carlos Rodon (from North Carolina State) and Brady Aiken (San Diego high school) have an arm slot that’s higher and their ball is straighter,” the scout said. “Kodi is low three-quarter, but still gets on top of the ball and gets tremendous movement. He’s difficult to catch and difficult to hit.
“When you throw over the top, and your ball is straighter it’s a more enjoyable at-bat for a hitter. With Kodi, it’s never fun because you don’t know what his ball is going to do. In 43 innings, he had 15 walks. It’s not like he has command issues. When he throws from that arm angle and has that much movement and throws strikes, that all makes him more valuable.”