Right-handed pitchers simply don’t go first overall. It isn’t a rule by any means, it just doesn’t happen with any sort of regularity. Thus, when we looked at Today’s Knuckleball’s Almost Mock Draft back in mid-May, and high school right-hander Riley Pint was in serious talks about being the first overall pick, it spoke volumes of the talent most felt he possessed.
Almost Mock Draft: No. 5 — Milwaukee Brewers | Actual MLB Draft No. 4 — Colorado Rockies
The Colorado Rockies have one of the more exciting offenses in baseball, but that is no surprise, as they often do. Nolan Arenado is arguably the best offensive player in the National League and David Dahl is doing things no rookie ever has. Throw in the veterans Carlos Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon, and the suddenly-potent DJ LeMahieu, and the Rockies are a tough lineup to get through.
What they need — and have seemingly always needed — is pitching. Jon Gray shows signs of being an ace, and there is a lot of promise in Jeff Hoffman and Kyle Freeland on the pipeline, but pitching, as always, is as thin in the Rockies organization as the air in the city in which they play.
The Rockies, in turn, invested their fourth overall pick in Pint, the 18-year-old righty out of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Kansas. Pint came armed with an advanced fastball; it has been clocked at hitting 102, with rumors that it was hitting 100 as early as his junior year of high school. Pint was seen as the pitching prospect that may have the best overall arsenal entering the draft, with three pitches which MLB Pipeline graded out as 60 or higher, including that patented 70-grade fastball. Not even the nationally-heralded Jason Groome could claim that.
The issue with Riley was command and mechanics. Having been a two-sport superstar until his senior year — he played hoops as well — Riley wasn’t playing year-round baseball like some of his other cohorts. His mechanics are not as refined as some other top draft picks, but the foundation is there. He also didn’t have to rely very much on secondary offerings — a 12-6 curveball, a slurvy slider, and a high-80s changeup — when he consistently blew 99 mile-per-hour heat past his teenage opponents.
All of that added together has made for an interesting, and inconsistent, debut for Pint.
He didn’t waste anytime beginning his professional career. Pint signed on June 15 — a mere six days after he was drafted — for $4.8 million, saving the Rockies almost $500,000 off the estimated pick value. On June 16 he was assigned to the Grand Junction Rockies in the Pioneer League, and on July 1, he made his professional debut.
Pint allowed a leadoff single to his very first batter, but was untouchable after that. He hurled two innings, landing 14 of his 23 pitches for strikes, striking out consecutive batters in an up-and-down second inning. He was hitting 96 on his fastball, and seemed like he was very much in control. Since then, Riley has been up-and-down himself.
For more on what Pint has to offer, head on over to Today’s Knuckleball for my full feature by clicking on the link below: