Player: Erick Fedde
Drafted by: Washington Nationals
DOB: 02/25/1993 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 170 pounds
Previously Drafted: 24th round, 2011 (Padres)
After a standout career both on the mound and on the pitch in high school, the Padres tried to lure Erick Fedde away from his commitment to UNLV by selecting him in the 24th round of the 2011 draft. However, Fedde ultimately passed on the opportunity to begin his professional career, which, in hindsight, turned out to be an excellent decision.
Fedde enjoyed immediate success as a member of the team’s 2012 starting rotation, as the true freshman opened eyes by posting a 3.59 ERA with 66 strikeouts in 90.1 innings (15 starts). The right-hander made exactly 15 starts once again the following season and produced a similar 3.92 ERA (in 96.1 innings), but he also showed an improved ability to miss bats with 83 strikeouts against 23 walks during that span.
Fedde’s impressive sophomore campaign earned him an invitation to the prestigious Cape Cod League, where he significantly improved his draft stock by posting a 2.34 ERA and 26/8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 30.2 innings (five starts) for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox. Fedde appeared poise to run away with the league’s Outstanding Pitcher award before an invitation to join the Team USA Collegiate Team disrupted his summer campaign. However, his two-game stint with the national squad further improved his stock, as the right-hander registered a 3.18 ERA with eight strikeouts in 5.2 frames out of the bullpen.
Fedde continued to build off his summer success this spring back at UNLV, and seemed to be a near-lock to be selected in the top 15 picks of this year’s draft after the 21-year-old posted a stellar 1.76 ERA with 82 strikeouts in 76.2 innings covering his first 11 starts. However, his promising season took an unexpected turn for the worse in early May when he missed a start with elbow soreness, which of course was followed by news that he’d need season-ending Tommy John surgery (via Aaron Fitt of Baseball America).
With the overwhelming success rate in recent years with pitchers who’ve undergone the surgery, Fedde is still in the mix to come off the board in the first round, especially for a team with multiple picks. However, there’s an equally strong possibility that he falls on Day 1 of the draft due to concern about how the injury will affect his long-term durability.
Full Scouting Report
Highly projectable 6’4”, 170-pound frame leaves room to fill out with good athleticism due to his wiry build; delivery and arm action are both relatively simple, though some effort is involved due to his lack of lower-half strength; shows posture issues at times with a head tilt to his glove side; works quickly and maintains steady pace over duration of outing; occasionally rushes toward the plate and loses a feel for his rhythm; adept at making swift, in-game adjustments.
Right-hander creates decent downhill plane from a high three-quarter arm slot; elbow injury amplifies pre-existing concerns about his long-term durability as a starter; has shown the ability to work deep into games, but his slot tends to drop rather quickly as he tires.
Fedde’s fastball sits in the 91-94 mph range with decent late life and topped out at 95-96 mph prior to the injury; it will jump on opposing hitters but lacks significant movement; command of pitch is a tick above average and allows him to locate it throughout the strike zone; flattens out and plays light-ish when he doesn’t get on top; he’ll need to avoid the top of the strike zone as a professional.
Fedde’s slider is presently an above-average offering as well as his most consistent; thrown in the low 80s with good tilt and late break; has confidence to throw pitch in any count and work both sides of the plate against right- and left-handed hitters; good feel for how to bury it when vying for a whiff; as with his fastball, the slider becomes flat when his arm slot drops.
Slightly below-average offering that could add a full grade with the proper development; lacks consistent feel for the pitch, throwing it firmly at times in the 82-84 mph range; decent fading action should improve if he can learn to turn the pitch over a bit later; arm action has improved over the last year and now resembles that of his fastball; development of the pitch will determine whether or not he can turn over a major league lineup.
Consistently around zone with fastball and slider; aforementioned arm-slot issues can result in inefficiency and too many deep counts early in games; falls behind too many hitters, and the mistakes can be very hittable; throws lots of strikes, and walks have never been an issue.
Below-average command will need to improve to serve as a starter at the highest level; doesn’t always throw quality strikes; ability to locate slider in any given count aids the effectiveness of his fastball.
MLB Player Comparison: Jordan Zimmermann
Fedde obviously has a much slighter frame than Zimmermann, but both right-handers feature a plus fastball/slider combination as well as the ability to miss bats and work deep into games. Furthermore, Fedde’s mechanics—specifically his drift toward the plate and “inverted W” arm action—bear some similarity to Zimmermann’s prior to his Tommy John surgery.
Projection: No. 2 or 3 starter
Major Leagues ETA: Late 2016
Chances of Signing: 65 percent
Fedde had worked his way into the conversation as a potential top-10 pick prior to his season-ending elbow injury. The right-hander likely will demand first-round money to sign, which isn’t a guarantee considering he’ll be on the shelf for the next year-plus; therefore, he could return to college next season if he falls down the board on draft day.