The Cincinnati Reds are likely to take a college pitcher with the #12 pick in the draft unless something unforeseen happens where a highly rated player falls to them according to Keith Law of The Athletic. In the first mock draft done by Law this year he has the Reds selecting Florida State right-handed pitcher CJ Van Eyk with their first round selection.
If you’re going to go by other national rankings, that pick would be a dramatic reach. Van Eyk is currently rated as the #43 prospect in the draft by Baseball America, #39 by MLB Pipeline, and #29 by Fangraphs. But this is a year in which these rankings may mean less than ever because the information due to lack of games is extremely limited.
Let’s talk about what we do know, though. CJ Van Eyk went to George M. Steinbrenner High School in Lutz, Florida. The New York Mets selected him in the 19th round of the 2017 draft, but he chose to head to Florida State to continue his education and baseball career. As a freshman he pitched mostly out of the bullpen, posting a 2.86 ERA in 14 relief appearances and five starts that spanned 56.2 innings. Last season as a sophomore he made 18 starts for the Seminoles, posting a 3.81 ERA in 99.1 innings with 41 walks and 129 strikeouts. This spring saw him make four starts before the season came to a close. In 20.2 innings he walked 12 batters, struck out 25, and posted a 1.31 ERA.
From a statistical perspective, his walk rate is higher than you want to see from a 1st round caliber pick. College stats don’t always translate, in a good or bad way, to the professional ranks. Look no further than Packy Naughton for a good example there – his ERA at Virginia Tech was 6.13 in his career – and over 6.00 in each of his final two seasons. His ERA in three seasons in the minors? 3.59. His walk rate? It’s literally HALF of what it was in college.
Still, you would prefer strong numbers from a 1st round pick. Of course, there are things that matter more than just the numbers – the scouting report. We haven’t covered CJ Van Eyk in our 2020 MLB Draft Scouting Report series yet, but we can take a quick look at his scouting report. He’s a 6′ 1″ and 205 lb righty with a fastball that works in the 90-95 MPH range, with a good curveball, solid change up, and a below-average slider. His stuff is solid, but unspectacular, and there’s not a lot of projection that says it’ll get better, either.
Or so that’s what the downside of the scouting reports say from those lower on him than others. On the flip side, there’s this write up from Fangraphs:
Van Eyk flashes three plus pitches at times, but rarely all at the same time, and his starter traits come and go, but there’s frontline upside here if it all comes together. Was up to 98 last fall.
That sounds a bit more promising than the prior report. Of course there’s still the concern with the “rarely at the same time” and the “starter traits come and go” – but the upside on a report from someone that believes in him looks a lot better than the ones that have a few more questions and concerns.