Player: Sean Newcomb
Drafted by: Los Angeles Angels
DOB: 06/12/1993 (Age: 20)
Height/Weight: 6’5”, 240 lbs
Previously Drafted: Never drafted
Sean Newcomb burst onto the scene in 2013 during his sophomore campaign at Hartford, registering a 3.75 ERA in 72 innings and leading the nation with a stellar 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings. But despite his ability to consistently miss bats and generally avoid hard contact, Newcomb struggled with his control and command for the duration of the season and walked 4.63 batters per nine innings.
Newcomb wasn’t nearly as dominant the following summer pitching in the prestigious Cape Cod League, though in his defense he was physically less than 100 percent after battling mononucleosis for over a month. Yet the southpaw showed enough during his time on the mound to keep him toward the top of most draft lists heading into the spring.
Newcomb has checked all the developmental boxes this season: He’s shown better fastball command as well as the ability to hold velocity deep into games, improved both of his breaking balls and turned his changeup into a legitimate weapon.
The only real knock on Newcomb stems from his track record of facing comparatively weak college hitters over the last two seasons, though he did offset some of those concerns by pitching in the Cape and then dominating this spring. However, considering his present ability and potential to improve on all fronts, it’s doubtful that he'll make it out of the first round on June 5.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
The 6’5”, 240-pound left-hander has a mature build that still involves some physical projection; his combination of size, strength and low-effort delivery should make him a durable workhorse as a professional; mechanics and arm action are both fluid and consistent; works from three-quarters arm slot; features good balance throughout his delivery; excellent use of strong lower half and core; doesn’t always complete his trunk rotation, which in turn causes him to miss up and away to his arm side and at times get around his breaking ball.
Newcomb’s plus fastball is effortless, has steadily improved during his time at Hartford and flashes plus-plus potential; left-hander sits comfortably in the 92-95 mph range (topping out at 97) and has shown the ability to maintain it deep into games; his arm action and extension toward the plate cause the pitch to play up thanks to late life; generates natural arm-side run as well as some sinking action when located down in the zone.
Serves as his change-of-pace breaking ball to keep opposing hitters off his slider and changeup; demonstrates a feel for adding/subtracting with the pitch, as he throws it in a wide, 76-81 mph velocity range with a big, 11-to-5 shape and modest downer action; lacks consistency but could emerge as a fourth at-least-average offering at maturity with further development in the minor leagues.
Newcomb’s slider is average at present but flashes above-average potential; registers in the low- to mid-80s with good tilt and depth; swing-and-miss offering that dives out of the zone; shows natural feel for locating pitch throughout strike zone and understands how to bury it on the back foot of right-handed hitters.
Development of a consistent and effective changeup has been crucial to his success over the past year; throws the pitch at 82-85 mph and generates above-average fading action to his arm side; sells pitch with fastball-like arm action and smooth delivery; exhibits the confidence to use the pitch in a variety of counts.
Newcomb’s ability as a strike-thrower leaves something to be desired; professional hitters won’t help him out and expand their zones like those he’s faced over the last three years; feel for the zone should continue to improve as he learns to repeat his delivery with more consistency; ability to work deep into games as a professional will be tied to his overall efficiency.
Below-average command at the present, but the strides he’s made both in refining his delivery and four-pitch mix suggest it could be average at maturity; development of his command could ultimately determine whether or not he pitches at the front or back of a major-league rotation.
MLB Player Comparison: Scott Kazmir
Newcomb is best compared to Scott Kazmir, as both left-handers feature a deep, four-pitch mix with the ability to miss bats at a high rate, but also because each hurler's respective command can vary from start to start.
Projection: No. 2 or 3 starter
Major Leagues ETA: Mid-2016
Chances of Signing: 90 percent
Newcomb is this year’s small-school, out-of-nowhere success story—like Sean Manaea was in 2013—and is expected to sign after coming off the board in the first round.