Grayson Saunier performed well on the showcase circuit last summer and had high expectations for himself this spring. But his senior season didn’t start as he envisioned. The Collierville (Tenn.) High school right-handed pitcher missed about two months this spring due to a lat strain.
The delayed start to the season was difficult for Saunier, who is one of the top prep pitchers in the 2022 class. He returned to game action in April. Now as his season winds down, Saunier is healthy, pitching well, and displaying his exciting skillset for professional scouts.
Scouts are intrigued by Saunier’s ability and projectability. They rank Saunier as a potential early-round pick in July’s MLB draft. Despite the attention, Saunier is focused on leading his high school team to a state title.
“It has been difficult to balance everything,” Saunier said. “But I have tried to keep a level head and focus on the present and not look far into the future. I have enjoyed the moment and my senior year.”
Saunier is a 6-foot-4, 190-pound right-handed pitcher that throws a four-seam fastball, circle changeup, curveball, and slider from a three-quarters arm slot and loose and repeatable delivery.
All four of his pitches are quality offerings. He leans on his fastball, which features arm-side run. His fastball velocity has trended upwards over the last year, currently sitting 91-93 mph. Scouts believe the pitch’s speed will increase as he matures physically due to his size and clean mechanics.
He mixes in all of his secondary pitches well. His slider is his put-away pitch. It is a hard slider, with some talent evaluators calling it a cutter, and features late-breaking action.
Saunier’s spike curveball and changeup also feature potential. He has confidence in his changeup, and it has notable fading action, making it difficult for hitters to square up.
Saunier isn’t the hardest throwing pitcher, but he has success mixing in his secondary pitches and throwing strikes at a high percentage. His pitchability is one of his biggest strengths.
“A lot of guys throw hard but don’t really know how to pitch,” Saunier said. “But I know how to pitch. I’m good at figuring out hitters. My ability to command four pitches is a strength of mine.”
Saunier has the size, mechanics, and pitches to thrive as a starting pitcher in pro ball. He is a polished pitcher for his age and has the solid foundation scouts seek when scouting prospects and projecting their futures.
But it isn’t a guarantee Saunier will jump straight into the pro ranks out of high school. Besides his status as a draft prospect, he also is a University of Mississippi commit.
In recent years, Ole Miss has developed a plethora of players for the pro ranks. Last year, right-hander Gunnar Hoglund and lefty Doug Nikhazy went in the first and second round, respectively.
“Ole Miss has a really good track record of producing pitchers for the draft,” Saunier said. “At the end of the day, my dream is to play professional baseball. I wanted to pick a school that would give me a really good chance, if not the best chance, to get drafted after college. Ole Miss was the place.”
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Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for seven years. He has interviewed 356 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.