Player: Jacob Nix
Drafted by: Houston Astros
Height/Weight: 6'4", 205 pounds
School: Los Alamito (California) HS
College Commitment: UCLA
Jacob Nix is part of a stellar recruiting class, especially on the pitching side, for the UCLA Bruins that also includes projected No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken. The latter will never step foot on campus, while the former may end up taking his talents to Los Angeles, hoping to build his stock up for the 2017 draft.
Whatever Nix decides to do, he's battle-tested. The right-hander pitched for Team USA's under-18 squad in 2013 that won a World Cup title. He has also participated in showcase events like the Area Code Games and Perfect Game National.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
A big, sturdy right-handed pitcher, Nix lacks the physical projection to make him a top high school arm in this class; he's listed at 6'4", 205 pounds and isn't going to get much bigger, meaning the velocity is as good as it will get; good athlete with one of the easiest releases in this class; uses good arm speed and a strong lower half to generate velocity; team that likes the mechanics can see more ceiling than the raw stuff suggests.
Nix's limited upside stems from a fastball that has topped out, though it does feature solid-average velocity in the 90-93 mph range; straight offering, but one that he does a good job of keeping down in the zone, and hitters don't get a great look at it with a three-quarters arm slot.
A drafting team has to teach Nix how to spin a proper breaking ball; throws one right now that is too soft and loopy; advanced hitters aren't going to swing at it, or when they do, they can find the barrel of the bat; good shape to the pitch when it's on—enough that you can see an average hammer in the arm.
A pitch that Nix doesn't throw a lot right now, because high school hitters can't touch a fastball-curveball combination, the changeup has a long way to go before becoming a viable pitch; when he does throw it, there's some tumble at the end; feel is the most important thing for the changeup, which is why throwing it regularly is so important in pro ball.
The only viable pitch in Nix's repertoire right now is the fastball, which he throws well and around the zone; has to develop a better breaking ball and changeup, at least to give them definition, and then learn to throw them over the plate; clean arm action and ability to keep the fastball down are two big pluses right now.
Nix's command profile is spotty, especially with two fringy pitches; has to be so fine with the fastball right now to have success when he gets into pro ball; heater will show some arm-side run, which helps enhance the command profile, but until the off-speed stuff takes a step forward, it will always be below-average.
MLB Player Comparison: Randall Delgado
The pitcher that Jacob Nix most resembles is Randall Delgado, who was masking as a starter in Arizona before the team realized he only had two pitches.
Nix doesn't have Delgado's fastball velocity, but the pitches tend to have the same look out of the hand. Nix also has questions about the breaking ball, which limits his ceiling coming into pro ball. If everything clicks, there's a back-end starter to be found.
Projection: No. 4 starter in first-division rotation
MLB ETA: 2018
Chances of Signing: 50 percent
Nix's ability to pitch off the fastball is going to appeal to MLB teams, but there's no sense that it's enough to elevate him into lofty territory. He has a scholarship to UCLA, one of the best baseball programs in the country, and can build up his stock for three years under the same coach (John Savage) who helped mold Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer into first-round picks.