2019 Top College Baseball Draft Prospects: Right-Handed Pitching (Part 2)
Leading up to the 2019 MLB Amateur Draft, Baseball Info Solutions has been publishing a series of position-by-position scouting reports from our Video Scouts for the top-50 collegiate draft prospects. This is the last of the position previews. Each player is graded by the 20-80 scouting scale, given a comprehensive evaluation, and assigned a floor and a ceiling comparison, which indicate–if a player makes the Major Leagues–the range of the type of player into which he can develop.
Corner Infield (Part 1)
Corner Infield (Part 2)
Middle Infield (Part 1)
Middle Infield (Part 2)
Outfield (Part 1)
Outfield (Part 2)
Left-Handed Pitching (Part 1)
Left-Handed Pitching (Part 2)
Right-Handed Pitching (Part 1)
Right-Handed Pitching (Part 2)
This post covers the remaining right-handed pitchers in our top 50. These six possess far less upside than that of the first group of righties, but should still come off the board within the first four rounds on draft day.
Ryan Zeferjahn, Tyler Baum and Ryan Garcia project as middle to back-end rotation pieces if they can each develop a better changeup. Zack Hess is all but guaranteed to end up in the bullpen, where he has the makings of an impact late-inning guy. Noah Song and Drey Jameson have exciting stuff and dominant college numbers, but pitching in weaker conferences could affect their draft stock.
Drey Jameson, RHP
Ball State University (SO, 2019)
R/R 6-00, 165 lbs
Date of Birth: 08/17/1997
Fastball- 60 (65) Curveball- 50 (55) Slider- 45 (50) Changeup- 45 (55) Control- 40 (45)
Written by Harris Yudin
Drey Jameson has been terrific in his short time at Ball State, dominating MAC hitters over the last two years. In 2019, the draft-eligible sophomore posted a 3.05 ERA with 136 strikeouts (fourth-most in Division 1) and 29 walks, drawing immediate attention with six no-hit innings against Stanford in his season debut.
At just 6 feet and 165 pounds, Jameson’s small frame is a bit concerning, especially since there is some effort in his delivery. He uses his whole body through the delivery, finishing towards first base and generating velocity with an incredibly quick arm. While he repeats his mechanics fairly well, his release point can be inconsistent, and he often ends up spiking the ball well before the plate.
Jameson’s plus fastball sits in the mid 90s and can sniff triple digits. He elevates it up in the zone, getting hitters to chase the heater up and away where they can’t catch up to it. He throws two distinct breaking balls- a curveball in the upper 70s and a tight slider in the mid 80s. The curve is the better of the two pitches right now, and is used to successfully mix speeds and change a hitter’s eye level. He can front door it to righties for strikes and bounce it in the dirt to get chases, but will occasionally leave it over the middle of the plate. The slider is more of a get-me-over pitch right now, and lacks the sharp break of a swing-and-miss breaking ball. A power changeup is Jameson’s fourth offering. Although it doesn’t have a ton of fade, he throws it with good arm speed and decent velocity separation from his fastball, giving it the potential to develop into an above-average major league pitch.
All of his secondary pitches flash plus at times, but there is a lot of work to be done on all three. His command of all four pitches can be shaky, and he sometimes loses the strike zone. That said, he has displayed poise and composure on the mound, working out of jams by trusting his arsenal.
Jameson’s raw stuff has allowed him to dominate weaker competition in college, but he will need more consistency and better command in order to retire big league hitters. While he has shown that he can go deep into games — at least 100 pitches in 10 of his 15 starts — his size and mechanics raise concerns about his long-term durability. His velocity and secondary stuff could play up in the bullpen, however, where he profiles as a high-leverage option.
Projection: Undersized right-hander with significant upside but a profile of a late-inning reliever.
Ceiling: Roy Oswalt
Floor: David Robertson
Draft Expectation: Rounds 2-3
Ryan Zeferjahn, RHP
University of Kansas (JR, 2019)
R/R 6-05, 225 lbs
Date of Birth: 02/28/1998
Fastball- 60 (65) Slider- 55 (55) Changeup- 40 (50) Control- 40 (45)
Written by Mitch Glessner
As a former 37th-round pick out of high school, Ryan Zeferjahn looked to climb further up draft boards after a solid junior season at the University of Kansas. The second-team All-Big 12 selection in 2018 provides a powerful combination of a mid-90s sinker, power slider and developing changeup. As the Jayhawks’ Friday night starter, Zeferjahn went 5-2 in 15 starts, posting a 3.97 ERA with 107 strikeouts in 88.1 innings.
Zeferjahn commands a solid presence on the mound with his big, 6-foot-5 frame. While he has the promising makeup in his arsenal of a future starting pitcher, the biggest question has been the consistency of his control. His 4.5 BB/9 looks looming, but his 10.9 K/9 gives reason to be highly optimistic of his potential if his control improves. When he is commanding his fastball at his best, Zeferjahn eats up innings while maintaining velocity and arm action deep into games.
His first step off the rubber sets up the slow tempo in his wind up. While it may cause concern for consistency in his delivery, he repeats the motion and tempo consistently and comfortably. His slow first step and high three-quarters arm slot combine for very good deception in his sinker that will sit 92-94 mph and top out at 96. His slider is his preferred wipeout pitch, sitting in the low to mid 80s. He doesn’t shy away from throwing his slider behind in counts, and has the ability to add and subtract depth to the pitch. He provides consistent arm action in his changeup, which can be an even better pitch than his slider when he has the feel for it. At low to mid 80s velocity, it is a hard changeup that disappears with good tumble. Zeferjahn’s calm demeanor and strong lower half allow him to go deep into games with the ability to rear back for 96 whenever he wants as a starter. However, he consistently throws more strikes with higher fastball command from the stretch. He is quick to the plate at 1.41 seconds, and doesn’t lose any arm action or velocity. At times he looks more comfortable working from the stretch, where his delivery becomes more compact.
If Zeferjahn can show continuous improvement in his ability to throw strikes, he could become a regular No. 3 or No. 4 starter. With his fallback being a solid, mid- to late-inning bullpen role, he gives many teams good reason to take him anywhere from the second to third round of this upcoming draft.
Projection: Back-end starter with control issues or a back-end reliever with power fastball-slider combination.
Ceiling: Brad Keller
Floor: Kyle Crick
Draft Expectation: Rounds 2-3
Noah Song, RHP
Naval Academy (SR, 2019)
R/R 6-04, 200 lbs
Date of Birth: 05/28/1997
Fastball- 60 (65) Slider- 50 (55) Curveball- 45 (55) Changeup- 40 (50) Control- 50 (55)
Written by Dominic Asta
Noah Song has been the most dominant pitcher in Division 1 baseball the past two seasons. He led all of Division 1 with 161 strikeouts in 94 innings for Navy in his senior season. He was not drafted last season because of his strong desire to return for his senior year and graduate. He is an extremely polished starter with a four-pitch mix and power velocity. The major drawback for major league teams will be the fact he must complete two years of service in the Navy before he can pitch professionally. This current U.S. Department of Defense policy, implemented in 2017, means Song will be 24 years old before starting his baseball career. He has the talent and polish, however, to entice teams to take a chance on him in the first five rounds and be patient for his arrival in the majors.
Song has a large, lean frame with good athleticism. He operates with an easy, simple delivery from the first base side of the rubber. He throws from a three-quarters arm slot with minimal effort. He shows some stride inconsistency, landing at different points on the mound, which makes him throw from different release points at times, but this should be easily cleaned up at the professional level. Song shows confidence on the mound, with a good pickoff move and the ability to control the run game, as well.
His fastball explodes out of his hands and sits mid 90s with flashes of upper 90s. He has great arm-side run and on his two-seam fastball. He backs righties off the plate with it and even backdoors it for strikes. His slider features good tilt and lateral break with cutterish movement at times. The pitch sits 83-86 mph with the potential for upper 80s. The shape and break of the pitch are not consistent, and he struggles to throw it for strikes at times. His curveball is thrown less frequently than his slider, but flashes above- average potential. The pitch has serious depth and drop to it with 12-to-6 movement and sits mid 70s. He has confidence in the pitch to throw it in any count and the ability to backdoor it to lefties. Song’s changeup, like his two-seamer, has good arm-side movement and similar arm speed to his fastball. He does not throw it very often, but will break it out a handful of times to keep lefties honest. He is very hard to barrel up with his fastball movement and his extreme velocity range. Song has average control at the moment, and projects for slightly above-average control in the future. When he misses, it is usually low in the zone, and he only allowed 11 home runs in his college career with a 1.04 WHIP.
Song has dominated the Patriot League in his college career with 428 strikeouts in 334 innings. He has had similar success, albeit in a small sample size, against stiffer competition in the Cape Cod league. He has pitched 18 innings over the past two summers in the Cape with 18 strikeouts and a 3.00 ERA. He has the talent and stuff to be a first round-pick this season, but won’t be drafted that high due to his military requirement. Teams with a sizable bonus pool should be interested in drafting Song and hopeful that after his military service he can return to the mound without too much rust.
Projection: Front-line starter potential with great velocity and four future above-average pitches.
Ceiling: Jack Flaherty
Floor: Luke Hochevar
Draft Expectation: Rounds 3-5
Ryan Garcia, RHP
UCLA (JR, 2019)
R/R 6-00, 180 lbs
Date of Birth: 01/24/1998
Fastball- 50 (55) Slider- 50 (55) Curveball- 50 (55) Changeup- 40 (50) Control- 50 (55)
Written by Will Hoefer
An undersized righty from UCLA, Garcia has improved on a stellar sophomore year and carved up the Pac-12 in 2019. Sporting a conference-best 1.42 ERA among qualified starters, he boasts an impressive combination of strikeouts (11.96 K/9) and control (2.84 BB/9).
Garcia, who arrived on campus as a two-way player and was quickly told to stick to the mound, pitches with the ease of a shortstop using his plus arm to zing a routine throw across the diamond to first base. Working out of a high three-quarters arm slot, he has a good down-mound stride with very easy and fluid mechanics throughout his delivery to the plate. He generally commands his fastball to the black, and his occasional misses are up and out of the zone where a hitter can’t do serious damage. He can hang a breaker from time to time, but shows, on average, 55-grade command across all four of his offerings.
The Bruins’ ace features four pitches, three of which project to be above average. The fastball sits in the low 90s and can touch 94, with good arm-side run and rise. His slider has a sharp hook and will occasionally flash plus depth, and his curveball is a big, 12-6 breaker that also occasionally flashes plus. These are both above-average secondaries, and will usually be deployed against right- and left-handed hitters, respectively. Filling out Garcia’s arsenal is a changeup, which has decent depth and fade but can get a little firm at times. There’s still advanced feel and location, though, which helps bump it up to a 50-grade offering.
Garcia’s overall polish, which comes from his clean and easy delivery, is the definitive quality that has pushed him up draft boards. He lacks any sort of projection on his stuff, and the slight frame could scare some teams off if they don’t think he can hold up pitching 150 innings year after year. But neither of these things disqualify Garcia from being developed as a starter, as his combination of stuff, command and ability to handle a college starter’s workload project well to a role in the back of a major league rotation.
Projection: Back-end major league starter with above-average command.
Ceiling: Jeremy Guthrie
Floor: Javy Guerra
Draft Expectation: Rounds 3-4
Tyler Baum, RHP
University of North Carolina (JR, 2019)
R/R 6-02, 180 lbs
Date of Birth: 01/14/1998
Fastball- 55 (60) Curveball- 50 (55) Changeup- 45 (50) Control- 50 (60)
Written by Harris Yudin
Baum followed a stellar freshman showing with a disappointing sophomore campaign, but has righted the ship in 2019, transitioning back into Carolina’s Friday night role midseason. The 6-foot-2 righty managed a respectable 3.91 ERA with 82 strikeouts and 22 walks on the regular season. He has thrown over 200 innings across his three years at Carolina, including extensive postseason experience.
Working mainly out of a low three-quarters arm slot, Baum has a clean delivery with no wasted motion and quick, fluid arm action. He hides the ball fairly well, and can mess with a hitter’s timing. He is a bit undersized, with a medium frame, but he’s very athletic and should be able to pack on some weight in pro ball.
Baum’s fastball typically sits in the low-to-mid 90s with heavy arm-side run, but he can reach back for 95 or 96 to put hitters away. He maintains velocity throughout the game, but could likely throw even harder if he were to work out of the bullpen. He alters his arm slot to throw an 11-5 curveball that sits in the upper 70s. The hammer is his best secondary pitch, and it projects to be above-average at the major league level, with good two-plane break. He also employs a mid-80s changeup that, while not an out pitch, has decent fading action and good velocity separation from his fastball.
Baum is more command over control right now, but has made strides with regards to throwing strikes, cutting his walk rate down from 11.2 percent as a sophomore to 6.8 percent as a junior. When he’s on, he can paint the corners with fastballs, using all edges of the zone to steal strikes and get hitters to chase. He pitches with emotion and isn’t afraid to attack up in the zone with two strikes.
With three average offerings, solid command and above-average durability, Baum has the potential to be a workhorse mid-rotation starter at the next level. That said, if the changeup doesn’t develop enough, he could have a strong future as a multi-inning reliever, where his velocity could play up more consistently. Regardless, his track record in the ACC will make him appealing early on Day 2.
Projection: Reliable right-hander with two potential plus pitches and mid-rotation upside.
Ceiling: Jeremy Hellickson
Floor: Josh Fields
Draft Expectation: Rounds 3-4
Zack Hess, RHP
Louisiana State University (JR, 2019)
R/R 6-06, 220 lbs
Date of Birth: 02/25/1997
Fastball- 60 (70) Slider- 50 (60) Changeup- 30 (40) Control- 30 (40)
Written by David Salway
Zack Hess has had an up-and-down career at LSU. He started as a late-inning reliever for the Tigers, en route to their runner-up finish in the College World Series. In that CWS, he appeared in five of their seven games, recording three saves with 11 strikeouts in seven innings. Since the 2017 season, Hess has struggled as a starter, posting a 5.05 ERA in 2018 and a 4.70 ERA thus far in 2019. This year he has 78 strikeouts in only 67 innings, but has managed just a 1.63 WHIP and a .288 opponents’ batting average. He was relegated to the LSU bullpen on May 1 of this season.
Despite being one of the largest pitchers in this draft, coming in at 6 feet 6 inches and 220 lbs, Hess struggles to use his lower half on a consistent basis. While he has shown the ability to ramp his fastball up to 96 on multiple occasions — and has even touched 98 — he will typically sit between 90-93 mph. He throws from a three-quarters arm slot and does a decent job of repeating his mechanics, but can at times lose his release point and extension at the end of his delivery. He has pretty fluid arm action, but is susceptible to short arming, especially when he is struggling within a game. Hess uses his height to his advantage, getting good downhill plane on his fastball and extension at times. However, there are some mechanical issues that can arise anytime he is getting hit around or cannot find the zone.
Hess exclusively uses a three-pitch mix, mostly throwing fastball and slider, with an occasional changeup. He will use this pitch mix differently depending on his role. As a starter, he will utilize the changeup more often, while throwing his fastball in the lower 90s. When coming out of the bullpen, his fastball will sit in the mid 90s and he will throw fewer changeups. He struggles to command his fastball, often leaving it up in the zone, and will often lose control completely. His slider is by far his best pitch of the three. It has sharp, downward movement with tight spin. He has the ability to throw it in the zone for strikes, but also in the dirt in two strike counts. It is a plus pitch to pair with his slightly above average fastball. His changeup is a work in progress, but sits 8-10 mph off of his fastball, around 82-84. It is currently a below-average pitch, with small potential for growth. There is little arm-side fade and he leaves it up in the zone too often. He does have the ability to throw his changeup for strikes, but will need to command it low and away to lefties to have any success playing off of his other two offerings. The development of a changeup will determine whether he will be a starter or reliever in the future.
Hess has seen his stock decrease rapidly over the past two seasons. While he has the potential to put it all together, he will most likely top out as a reliever. He has the arm talent to get by as a starter and will be given an opportunity to do so in the minors, but should ultimately end up in the bullpen, where his combination of a mid 90s fastball and devastating slider will play up.
Projection: Middle reliever with the possibility of becoming a high-leverage bullpen piece.
Ceiling: Tyler Clippard
Floor: Chad Sobotka
Draft Expectation: Rounds 3-4
Other right-handers to keep an eye on:
Alec Marsh, Arizona State University
Ryan Pepiot, Butler University
Andre Pallante, UC Irvine
Tyler Dyson, University of Florida
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