American Heritage High School in Florida has produced numerous high-end baseball prospects over the years, including current San Diego Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer. Ryan Bruno is the latest prospect from American Heritage with a legitimate chance of playing at the professional level.
Bruno is a left-handed pitcher who has an intriguing blend of size, talent and projection. His tools and high ceiling, along with the fact that he’s a lefty, make him one of the top prep players in June’s MLB draft class.
With about six months until the draft, Bruno is considered a top-three round prospect. His senior season of high school baseball this spring will be critical and potentially could give him clarity with deciding between starting a pro career or honoring his commitment to Stanford University.
“It’s pretty much the biggest spring season it can get in terms of the draft and then the decision of going through the draft or going to college,” Bruno said. “It’s definitely the biggest year for preparation for one of the two.”
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound lefty throws from a three-quarters arm slot out of a smooth delivery that features good direction to the plate. He has a three-pitch mix featuring a fastball, curveball and changeup.
He throws a four-seam fastball that sits in the low-90s and occasionally touches the mid-90s. This offseason, Bruno is focused on improving his fastball velocity, so he can consistently touch the mid-90s throughout an entire start, he said. He prefers to keep his fastball low in the zone where it then features occasional sink, he added.
His curveball is his best off-speed pitch and features solid break and depth when thrown at higher velocities. Last summer on the high school baseball showcase circuit, Bruno started throwing his curveball in the low-80s and experienced better results with the pitch.
“I think the biggest strength in my game right now is my ability to attack hitters,” Bruno said. “I need to work on my fastball command because if I can dial that fastball command in, I think it will give me a higher ceiling when it comes to attacking hitters.”
Bruno’s top priorities over his senior season is to improve his changeup. refine his command and make sure he’s not overthrowing, which were areas he was inconsistent in last summer.
“My changeup has developed,” Bruno said. “I was getting under it a bit, but now what I’ve learned is that if I stay on top of it, I will get the action I want instead of trying to force movement by getting under it. I think that’s the biggest thing I need to improve with my changeup.”
Bruno committed to Stanford over “some SEC schools and a couple of ACC schools,” he said. Although Stanford is across the country from his hometown of Wellington, Florida, Bruno felt it was the best fit for him due to the coaching staff and comradery of the team, he added.
He also respected the academics at Stanford and has an intended major of communications, he said.
While Bruno knows this spring is critical for the draft, he isn’t putting pressure on himself to perform for scouts. Instead, he’s hoping to enjoy his final high school season and believes he’s in a win-win situation when it comes to the next step in his baseball career.
“For me, I feel like I have the best of both worlds,” Bruno said. “I can go to one of the top schools or turn pro after the draft. I think it all comes down to this spring, after I had an OK summer in my feeling.
“Entering this spring, especially for a high school pitcher, can determine a lot. I think if I come out with a different mindset and attack hitters with all this stuff I worked on, I think I can rise my stock a lot.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for five years. He’s interviewed 191 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.