Player: Jake Godfrey
Drafted by: Atlanta Braves
Height/Weight: 6'2", 215 pounds
School: Providence Catholic (Illinois) HS
College Commitment: LSU
It's telling how highly the baseball world thinks of Jake Godfrey that he was able to get a scholarship offer from LSU. Normally, that's not going to sound any alarm bells, but for a Midwest pitcher who got limited exposure during the high school season, it's a testament to how well he performed on the showcase circuit.
Godfrey's breakout effort came at the Jupiter Showcase last October, dazzling scouts with an electric curveball and fastball that touched the mid-90s. He hasn't been as masterful this spring, but that's hardly a knock on his raw talent, which MLB teams will be trying to lure away from the SEC.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
He's a big, durable right-handed pitcher who should have no problems handling huge workloads; Godfrey's body isn't likely to get any bigger, so the stuff is as powerful as it will get, but that's still a pretty good package; arm path and speed are very good on all his pitches; line to the plate is solid, though he tends to open up his hips and push the ball rather than guide it with a high three-quarters arm slot.
Godfrey's fastball can touch the mid-90s but is more likely to sit 90-93 mph; at its best when he's throwing it to the arm side, where his arm action creates some natural movement; command is above-average, which helps the average velocity play up even against advanced hitters.
A true knockout pitch, one that could play against minor leaguers right now, Godfrey's curveball has the makings of a plus offering; not a power pitch, but the steep two-plane break and tight spin are going to dislocate a knee or two; advanced feel for it and wants to throw it in any situation, very rare for a player his age.
The drawback to having a great breaking ball is the third pitch doesn't get enough attention. Godfrey's feel for the changeup lags behind his other offerings; telegraphs the pitch by slowing down his mechanics and arm, letting hitters know what's coming; upside with the offering thanks to late diving action, but it's got a long way to go before being usable.
Godfrey's ability to spin the breaking ball and fastball gives him better control than a lot of high school pitchers; some mechanical kinks to work out, like flying open too early and finding the same release point in order to reach his full potential; arm action is so clean that any good coach can clean that up quickly.
The opening up limits his ability to command his stuff; fastball is solid in this regard, but the curveball works because the shape and depth of it are so good; until he learns to throw the changeup without slowing his body down, the command won't matter much.
MLB Player Comparison: Alex Cobb
If you are looking for a pitcher who gets by with average fastball velocity, Alex Cobb is one of the best recent examples. He uses a deceptive delivery to keep hitters off balance and then puts them away with a knockout curveball.
Godfrey doesn't have that hesitation at the top of his windup, but the tools are comparable thanks to the breaking ball. He could develop into a mid-rotation starter in time because of it.
Projection: No. 3 starter in first-division rotation
MLB ETA: 2017
Chances of Signing: 75 percent
Depending on how scouts view Godfrey, he could end up deciding that college is the right place for him. He has second- or third-round talent at the moment, so an MLB team could decide to make him a less-than-ideal offer.
Even though the allure of professional baseball is always high for an amateur player, LSU is nothing to scoff at. It's one of the best baseball schools in the country with top-notch facilities that can help him develop into a true first-round talent in 2017.