MLB Draft

MLB Draft Notebook: College Pitching Edition

The college pitching demographic in this year’s draft class might end up being one for the record books. After last year’s class was the one of the weakest in recent memory, the large uptick in talent and depth this year is a welcome one.

This weekend was a good one if you were a college pitcher, as there were plenty of monster performances from prospects that could go within the first five rounds of the draft in June. The most anticipated match-up was found in Durham, North Carolina, as Duke ace Bryce Jarvis went up against Florida State ace C.J. Van Eyk. A classic pitchers duel ensued and many scouts left the Durham Bulls Athletic Park impressed with the performances of both aces.

In this week’s edition of the draft notebook, we will go over the performances of Jarvis and Van Eyk, as well notes on other prominent arms in college, including some under-the-radar candidates.

Bryce Jarvis, RHP, Duke

It was only two weeks ago that Jarvis threw a perfect game against Cornell in Durham, but on Friday, he was set on doing it again. Against a formidable Florida State lineup, Jarvis went 6.2 perfect innings before giving up his first baserunner, ending the day with seven masterful innings, giving up just one hit, one walk, and striking out 12. Scouts I talked to after the performance stated that Jarvis’ outing was “one of the best they’ve ever seen.” Before losing his perfect game bid, Jarvis had retired 49 straight batters at the DBAP, which goes back to his opening night start against Army.

Jarvis’ stuff was electric, with his fastball, slider, and change-up all flashing plus potential. He touched 96 MPH on his fastball out of the gate, settling at around 93-94 MPH as the game went on. His change-up garnered the most whiffs out of his arsenal, as he got eight swings and misses on the day. The pitch was sitting in the mid-80’s and had serious late diving action. Jarvis was able to keep the pitch down in the zone all day, and was his best secondary offering. His slider was not as impressive as the change-up, but it still had serious bite and Jarvis used it effectively. It sat in the mid-80’s, topping out at 87 MPH in the fifth inning. He also possessed a fast tempo on the mound.

On the year, Jarvis now boasts a 40:2 K:BB ratio across 27 innings pitched this season, including three straight double-digit strikeout outings. There’s a good chance that Jarvis will propel himself into a Day 1 selection if he can continue to throw like he has the past three weeks.

C.J. Van Eyk, RHP, Florida State

While Van Eyk was overshadowed by Jarvis on Friday, he still put together an impressive outing. Over six innings, Van Eyk allowed just three hits, including none from the second to the beginning of the seventh inning, walked two, and struck out six, but was tagged for an earned run. That run came in the first inning, after Ethan Murray missed a home run by just inches and then scored on a Michael Rothenburg single two batters later.

Van Eyk’s arsenal was just as impressive as Jarvis’, as he had his fastball touch 95 MPH early before settling into the low-90’s throughout the outing. His best offering was his hammer curveball, which sat 78-80 MPH and had showcased 11-to-5 movement. His change-up looked good as well, as it was above-average and had solid depth. That pitch sat in the low-to-mid 80’s during the day, and he also showed off a slider that was around 83-85 MPH.

One thing that has bit Van Eyk early in 2020 has been control and command of the baseball, as he has had issues with walks early on. Both looked better, but there is still work to be done as the season progresses.

Thomas Girard, RHP, Duke

Jarvis was not the only Duke pitcher that looked impressive over the weekend, as Thomas Girard came in relief twice over the weekend and looked quite dominant. While the fastball lacks velocity, as it hovers around 90 MPH, his slider was filthy, as it carved up Florida State hitters in back-to-back days. His slider was a mid-80’s offering and had serious bite. Over 3.2 innings, Girard struck out eight batters and allowed zero hits, but did allow a run on Friday night after a walk to Tyler Martin in the 9th. His slider also produced this embarrassing swing of Nander De Sedas on Friday.

Nander De Sedas, SS, Florida State

While this is a pitching notebook, let’s not forget about some valuable bats and gloves that were on hand this weekend. De Sedas was one of the top prep players to reach college after the 2018 draft, but teams were wary of his ability to hit. The ability to hit has been a struggle for De Sedas in college, as he has posted a .217/.347/.302 slash line at Florida State in 76 games and struggled in the New England Collegiate Baseball League last summer.

What sets De Sedas apart from his offensive struggles is his defensive prowess, as he showed great hands and a strong arm over the weekend. He was very smooth on some difficult plays on Friday, making them look routine. There is a possibility that De Sedas could move positions in the minors, and the strong arm suggests a move to third is the most likely scenario, but that would put more pressure on his ability to hit if that move occurs. It will be interesting to see if the bat makes a turn-around before the spring ends.

Other College Notes

J.T. Ginn, RHP, Mississippi State

Prior to their weekend series against Quinnipiac, Mississippi State was dealt a large blow, as their ace and former first-rounder J.T. Ginn had elbow surgery and will be out for the remainder of the season. Ginn, who was projected as a top 15 pick in the draft this year, left his first start against Wright State nearly a month ago with arm soreness.

The injury may not have a huge effect on Ginn’s draft status, as teams have not shied away from players with injuries in recent years, plus Ginn’s stuff is still a premium when he returns next year. After a dominating Freshmen year last year, teams would be willing to take the risk, as Ginn has one of the best fastball-slider combinations in the class. If he chooses to come back for his Junior season, which seems unlikely currently, he would be near the top of the board.

Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee

Another top arm that was sidelined early with an injury was Tennessee southpaw Garrett Crochet, who was hampered by shoulder soreness to begin the year. He made his season debut against Wright State on Saturday in a limited outing, going 3.1 innings, allowing only two hits and striking out six. The foreboding 6’6 left-hander looked very solid in his return, and it comes just in time for SEC play, which begins Friday with a trip to South Carolina. Crochet more than likely will see pitch limits to ease back into the rotation and he is currently lined up to go on Saturday afternoon in Columbia.

Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville/Ryan Cusick, RHP, Wake Forest/Jared Shuster, LHP, Wake Forest

Death, taxes, and Reid Detmers putting together another impressive performance. Detmers struck out 15 Wake Forest batters over six stellar innings on Friday night, giving up just four hits and walking two. He had his curveball thoroughly on display and his fastball was deceptive in the low-90’s. His slider and change-up also worked really well in the outing. If Detmers were to add more velocity to his fastball, there’s a good chance he would be in the conversation for 1-1, but the fastball jumps out of his hand and appears faster than it actually is.

As for Wake Forest starter and 2021 draft prospect Ryan Cusick, he had pitched better than his line suggested. He struck out 11 batters over five innings, but had walked five during the outing and gave up three runs, only two earned. His fastball had touched 98 at times and it possessed some nasty life to it, but his command of the pitch is iffy at best. He’s got a lot to work on in terms of command and control before the 2021 draft, but he is an arm to watch if he can limit the walks.

Lastly, southpaw Jared Shuster went on Saturday afternoon against Bobby Miller and outdueled the latter half of Louisville’s two-headed monster with a 7.1 inning masterpiece, striking out 13 and walking just one. His fastball sits 92-95 MPH and has good life to it, a short curveball, and a plus change-up. He could very well find himself in late Day 1 conversations if he continues the pace, as he has a 43:4 K:BB ratio across four starts.

Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M

Lacy is making his case to jump up further in the top five stronger, as he put together a masterful seven inning outing on Friday night against Nick Gonzales and New Mexico State. He did not allow a hit and struck out 13 batters, including Gonzales in the first inning. However, he did walk three batters, including Gonzales to lead off the fourth inning, but was overpowering again. Here is the strikeout of Gonzales, who couldn’t check his swing in time.

Landon Knack, RHP, ETSU

One under-the-radar arm I want to bring attention to is East Tennessee State right-hander Landon Knack, who is quietly putting together an impressive season as he leads the NCAA Division 1 in strikeouts with 51. His fastball has reportedly been up to 97-98 MPH so far and in his latest start, he struck out 16 over six innings. The senior could vault himself up draft boards if he continues the torrid pace.

Nick Swiney, LHP, NC State

Another under-the-radar guy is southpaw Nick Swiney out of NC State. Swiney had been pegged as a breakout candidate in college prior to the season, and he has lived up to the hype as he currently has 42 strikeouts and a 1.29 ERA across four starts so far in 2020. This includes a monster eight inning performance against Purdue where he struck out 15 and allowed just one hit. Swiney has touched 94 MPH this spring, including a solid slider and change-up in his arsenal so far. There’s a chance he could become a Day 1 pick, but an early Day 2 selection seems more likely for Swiney.

Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota

One name that has vaulted himself into a potential mid-first rounder is Max Meyer, who has been electric for the Minnesota Golden Gophers so far. After an opening day start against Oregon where he touched 101 on his fastball, Meyer stood out in a complete game outing against UNC, where he struck out 14, and in his last start, struck out 15 against Utah. His slider is among the best in this class, as it can routinely touch 90 MPH and has touched 92 MPH at times this year.

Other Names To Watch

Seth Lonsway, Ohio State: 42:18 K:BB, 3.00 ERA 18 innings
Braden Olthoff, Tulane: 47:3 K:BB, 0.32 ERA in 28 innings
Mason Erla, Michigan State: 42:6 K:BB, 1.04 ERA in 26 innings
Levi Thomas, Troy: 42:6 K:BB, 0.39 ERA in 23 innings
Kyle Nicolas, Ball State: 37:7 K:BB, 2.74 ERA in 23 innings, including 17 K start Friday
Adam Seminaris, Long Beach State: 36:3 K:BB, 1.23 ERA across 22 innings, 9 hits allowed

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