Player: Corey Knebel
Drafted by: Detroit Tigers (No. 39 Overall)
DOB: 11/26/1991 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6’3”/210 lbs.
Previously Drafted: N/A
After going undrafted out of high school, Corey Knebel emerged as one of the top college relievers in the country as a freshman at Texas in 2011. Appearing in 38 games that spring, the right-hander registered a 1.13 ERA with 61/12 K/BB and only 28 hits allowed in 55.2 innings. More importantly, his 19 saves ranked second among all Division I pitchers.
Knebel notched another nine saves and a 2.08 ERA over 73.2 innings as a sophomore in 2012—and even made three starts for the Longhorns—but had both his strikeout and walk rates trend in the wrong direction.
The hard-throwing right-hander had a chance to break Huston Street’s save record this spring but ultimately ended up just a few short of the mark. However, he did add nine more saves to his running total—37 saves over three seasons—and posted the best strikeout rate of his young career with 51 in 40 innings (11.47 K/9).
While some teams may consider developing Knebel as a starter based upon his sheer arm strength and feel for two power offerings, his prior success as a reliever should lead to an early selection on Day 2 of the draft.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
Strong, projectable frame at 6’3”, 210 pounds; stands to add more strength to lower half; some effort to his delivery; quiet leg lift with tall-and-fall stride; tends to rush upper body and arm; relies on arm pure strength and natural deception; doesn’t consistently finish over his front side.
Fastball sits consistently in the mid-90s and has reached 98 mph; will work in the low-to-mid-90s as a starter; pitch features late life; slight run to the arm side; isn’t afraid to challenge hitters on the hands or at the top of the zone.
Fast arm action creates tight rotation; excellent shape and pace; loses the pitch high and to the arm side when arm and body aren’t in sync; tendency to bury it when front shoulder pull opens; flashes plus potential; should serve as a bat-misser at the next level.
Delivery doesn’t hinder his control as much as one would expect; has demonstrated the ability make in-game adjustments; usually around the plate with both fastball and curveball; natural deception and explosive arm action force opposing hitters to expand their zone.
Command may be challenged as a professional; will have to hit spots rather rely on overpowering hitters with velocity or spin; decent feel for pitching relative to his arsenal and role; fierce competitor who isn’t afraid to attack opposing hitters.
MLB Player Comparison: David Robertson
Projection: Above-average high-leverage reliever or closer.
MLB ETA: Late 2014
Chances of Signing: 90%