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Last season the Cincinnati Reds selected left handed pitcher Jacob Heatherly in the 3rd round of the draft. The scouting reports were interesting. He was viewed as an advanced pitcher, both in terms of what he could do, and in age. Heatherly was old for his draft class coming out of high school, already 19-years-old at the time he was drafted.

Scouting reports noted an 89-92 MPH fastball that would touch a tad higher. They also mentioned a good breaking ball when it was on. Those were the good notes. The flip side to that coin was that most reports suggested that there wasn’t much room for projection with Jacob Heatherly. His stuff would likely remain the same, and improvements would need to come from just being more consistent rather than finding more velocity, improving a poor breaking ball, etc.

Reports out of Goodyear have put some of that to bed. His velocity is up a little bit. And he’s been hitting mid-to-upper 90’s with the pitch, topping out at 97 MPH during the spring while throwing in extended spring training. One report that I got also noted that his curveball has gotten more consistent. In the game report it noted the pitch was working 76-81 MPH and flashed plus, was consistently above-average. The change up was listed as a 45 pitch currently with a future 50 grade.

Last season the Reds kept Jacob Heatherly in Goodyear for most of the time after the draft. He saw success in the Arizona Rookie League, posting a 2.93 ERA. He did struggle a bit with his walk rate, though, handing out 16 free passes in 30.2 innings. The walk rate remained the same in three starts with a late promotion to Billings. Pioneer League hitters, though, were able to rack up the hits – 17 of them in 9.0 innings.

While the rosters aren’t yet out for the rookie league teams, we should see Jacob Heatherly wind up in either Greeneville or Billings. The two teams both play at the “advanced rookie” level, and are viewed as on par with each other in terms of levels. But there are some very big differences between the two stops.

Billings plays in the Pioneer League, which is arguably the most hitter friendly league in all of Minor League Baseball. The Mustangs home park, Dehler Park is pitcher friendly for the Pioneer League. But, it still plays as rather hitter friendly compared to all of the minors. Greeneville plays in the Appalachian League, and as a whole, it’s a rather neutral league.

The 2018 season should see a lot of interesting guys that will be playing in Goodyear, Greeneville, and Billings. Left handed pitcher Jacob Heatherly, though, may be the one to keep an eye on the most. If he’s going to flash two above-average pitches from the left side, and he can cut down on his walk rate just a little bit, he could vault up the prospect rankings quickly this season.

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Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

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