Today begins the last position we will be looking at for the Cincinnati Reds potential options for their #35 and #43 overall picks in the upcoming draft, which begins on Thursday. If you are interested in checking out the articles that focus on the infielders and outfielders, you can read all about them here, along with all of the other draft coverage we’ve had.
To get the information on which players to look at, I sampled the players ranked between #25 and #50 on the draft boards by Baseball America, MLB Pipeline and Keith Law at ESPN (insider required). That led to a list of 45 players between the three lists that we will be looking at between now and the draft. Some of these players are ranked in the Top 25 at some places, and beyond 100 in others, so there is plenty of variance in the lists.
With the pure volume of pitchers in this area, this article is going to be broken down over two days to cover the 21 pitchers that make up the list. The breakdown will be simple – I’m just going to look at things in alphabetical order, but will be breaking down the players in the two groupings to high schoolers and college pitchers.
The High School Pitchers
Jeff Belge | LHP Henninger High School (NY)
Inconsistency has plagued Jeff Belge this spring/summer. At times his velocity has worked in the low-to-mid 90’s, touching 96 MPH. At other times he’s worked in the upper 80’s to low 90’s. He’s also shown signs of an above-average to possibly plus breaking ball, but it too has been quite inconsistent this year. To complicate matters, the left handed pitcher is also nearly blind in his right eye. He’s got plenty of size, listed at 6′ 4″ and 235 lbs, giving him plenty of projection to work with in terms of finding more consistent velocity as well as being able to handle a starters workload of innings.
Kevin Gowdy | RHP Santa Barbara High School (CA)
Among current high school pitchers, Kevin Gowdy stands out for how polished his game is right now. He’s showing good control and already shows three good offerings that he can use in games. His fastball generally works in the 89-92 MPH range, but at times will sit a little higher on the low-end of that. His curveball is an above-average offering already and his change up is solid now with a chance for it to improve in time. Scouts love his pitchability, particularly for a high schooler.
Jared Horn | RHP Vintage High School (CA)
Power stuff defines what Jared Horn brings to the table. He sits in the mid 90’s and touches 97 MPH with his fastball. His curveball in the mid-to-upper 70’s is mostly an average offering today, but flashes itself as a potential plus pitch every so often. The righty also brings a change up and slider with him, though both are below-average offerings at this point in time. His control hasn’t been great, but it’s not been poor either. Some scouts believe it’s possible he winds up in the bullpen without improvement in this area, while others think he can start if he can improve either the change up or slider to give him three viable pitches to work with.
The College Pitchers
Zack Burdi | RHP Louisville
The Louisville reliever brings the heat with the best of them, topping out at 100+ MPH on occasion and sitting in the mid-to-upper 90’s whenever he takes the mound. Unlike many power relievers, Burdi throws three pitches. He mixes in a plus slider in the mid-to-upper 80’s as well as an above-average to plus change up. His pure stuff is among, if not the best of the entire draft class. He’s been dominant for the Cardinals statistically in 2016, posting a 2.00 ERA in 27.0 innings to go along with seven walks and 45 strikeouts. Some teams believe he has a chance to start thanks to already showing three above-average or better offerings, but he’s never topped 30.0 innings in college, so it would be a true reliever-to-starter process that would require several years of building up innings to get him ready for a full season.
Corbin Burnes | RHP St. Marys
The St. Marys product has put up big numbers this season, posting a 2.23 ERA in 97.0 innings with 31 walks and 112 strikeouts. His fastball has worked in the low 90’s and touches 95, but has been even higher in the past. He mixes in an above-average slider, a curveball and a change up. He’s got the size to remain as a starting pitcher, but there’s some effort in his delivery and some believe it’s going to lead to him winding up in the bullpen. He’s also shown some inconsistencies with his offspeed stuff, particularly early in the season – but he’s rebounded well and shown himself better in the latter half of the year.
Bailey Clark | RHP Duke
The Duke right hander entered the spring as a quick riser from the previous summer after showing big time velocity in the Cape Cod League in 2015. He’s taken a step back since then and has watched himself fall down many draft boards after really struggling to produce for the Blue Devils, eventually being moved from the rotation and into the bullpen. He posted a 5.61 ERA in 59.1 innings with 26 walks and 64 strikeouts on the year. When it comes to his raw stuff, he stacks up well. He works in the low 90’s, but can reach into the mid-to-upper 90’s at times – though it doesn’t last long. He will also throw an above-average to plus slider at times, but he’s very inconsistent with the offering and at times it lacks much movement. His change up is a below-average offering that can be too firm at times. Control hasn’t been a strong point for Clark in college. While he’s never posted horrible walk rates, he’s been over 3.00 the last two seasons (only threw 3.2 innings as a freshman) and it’s worse this season than it was last season. His control and inconsistency with his breaking stuff suggest he’s more likely a future reliever, but the raw parts are all there to give him a chance to start.
Justin Dunn | RHP Boston College
The right handed Justin Dunn began the season in the Boston College bullpen, but he shifted into the rotation midseason and has performed very well, particularly of late. In 13.3 innings as a reliever he had three walks to go with 17 strikeouts and a 2.03 ERA. As a starter he’s thrown 47.0 innings with 13 walks, 49 strikeouts and a 1.34 ERA. In his most recent three starts though, he’s really kicked things into a different gear. Against Niagara, Georgia Tech and Tulane the right hander has thrown 19.0 innings with just four earned runs, one walk and 26 strikeouts. Dunn throws in the 92-95 MPH range and has touched 99 as a reliever. His slider works in the mid 80’s and is an above-average offering already and can show itself as a plus offering at times. He also brings in a fringy curveball and change up. The big knock against Dunn is that he doesn’t have the kind of size you want to see for a future start at this age. He’s listed at 6′ 2″ and just 170 lbs. The pure stuff is there, and he’s likely a high leverage bullpen arm at worst, but with a chance to start he’s got tons of upside.
Jon Duplantier | RHP Rice
After missing the entire 2015 season with a shoulder injury (that didn’t require surgery), Jon Duplantier has come back and pitched well out of the Rice rotation. In 106.0 innings he’s posted an ERA of 3.06 to go along with 41 walks and 143 strikeouts. The walk rate is a little high, but he’s also missed a ton of bats. He sits in the low 90’s with his fastball and will routinely touch the mid 90’s with good movement. His curveball flashes plus, but is usually closer to an average offering. He also shows a solid change up with some fading action to it. Concerns about his control, and his shoulder, give some scouts questions about his ability to start in the long run.
Alec Hansen | RHP Oklahoma
No one has seen their stock take a bigger hit this spring than Alec Hansen. When the year began he was viewed as a top five draft pick, possibly in contention for the #1 overall spot. Then the season began and the wheels fell off. He’s improved of late, but he’s posted a 5.40 ERA this season while splitting time in the rotation and the bullpen, limiting him to just 51.2 innings pitched. He’s walked 39 batters and had 75 strikeouts as his control has betrayed his raw stuff. His fastball will still work in the mid 90’s and touch the upper 90’s with movement. His two breaking balls both flash above-average and his change up is at least average on most days. His battles with control, and an elbow issue last fall that shut him down and that’s not the first time he’s had elbow issues, though none have led to surgery either. He is the ultimate boom-or-bust prospect in this draft.
Zach Jackson | RHP Arkansas
It’s been a tough season for Zach Jackson, spending most of his season in the Arkansas bullpen. In 53.0 innings he’s posted a 5.09 ERA after having an ERA under 2.60 each of the previous two seasons. His walk rate jumped for the second straight year and his 40 walks to go with 66 strikeouts are a big part of the reason he’s struggled. The control issues leave most believing that he will wind up in the bullpen in the long run, but he does have some experience starting. His stuff plays much better in the bullpen where he sits 92-95 MPH and touches the upper 90’s with a plus breaking ball.
That’s it for today. Check back tomorrow morning for the second part of this series as we wrap up the rest of the pitchers and the entire series.