Player: Jake Stinnett
Drafted by: Chicago Cubs
DOB: 4/25/1992 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6'4", 205 pounds
Previously Drafted: 2013, 29th round by Pirates
Taking a similar path to the draft that Mark Appel did, though with much less fanfare, Maryland right-hander Jake Stinnett bypassed Major League Baseball last year as a junior when the Pirates made him the 869th pick.
This bold strategy is going to pay huge dividends, as Stinnett figures to be an early Day 2 selection. He's also new to pitching, which had to play a role in his decision last year. He started full time in 2013 and really jumped forward this season.
Originally, he split time between the infield and pitching. His future has always been on the mound, which is why the decision to devote all his attention to it shouldn't have taken as long as it did.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
Stinnett has a big, sturdy pitcher's frame at 6'4" and 205 pounds, holding his velocity deep into games despite being new to starting full time; mechanics are another story, as there's violence in the arm action and an inconsistent arm angle; comes from a three-quarters slot and loses the release point frequently, though his extension out front makes the ball hard to pick up.
The Maryland right-hander has a power fastball that sits in the low 90s with exceptional movement, aided by his arm angle; can get sink and run on the ball, leading to weak contact and strikeouts; struggles throwing strikes on the outer half but can live in the middle of the plate with the heater better than most pitchers due to the movement.
Stinnett's strikeout pitch is a power slider that sits in the low 80s with hard, sharp tilt; arm angle creates tremendous late bite on the pitch, shifting from one side of the plate before darting to the other side; still developing a feel for the pitch and finding a consistent release point, but it flashes plus when he's on point.
One thing you hear about developing a changeup is pitchers have to throw it to get the feel; he hasn't been starting long enough to need a third pitch, which is why his changeup looks like a show-me offering; some deception thanks to his arm extension, but it's often too firm and lacks the movement to miss bats; it's imperative that he uses it in the minors, or else a role in the bullpen seems likely.
The most encouraging sign for the young pitcher is his ability to stay around the strike zone; able to miss bats already thanks to that deception in the delivery, the way the ball explodes out of his hand and ability to stay over the plate; aggressive mechanics make average control all he can hope to get, but that can be enough with two plus pitches.
There is a trade-off with an inexperienced pitcher: strikes are there, but the ability to hit the glove and throw his off-speed pitches over the plate isn't there yet; neither arm slot nor ability to throw strikes on the inner half with his fastball are going to project better than fringe-average command; development of a changeup is going to be huge with a fringy command profile, since that will be his weapon against left-handers.
MLB Player Comparison: Bobby Parnell
When Bobby Parnell was coming through New York's system, he was a fastball-slider guy with a dominating fastball who generated a ton of ground balls. He switched to a curveball in later years, but the profile before as a big right-hander with two power pitches and elite arm speed are identical to where Stinnett is right now.
Projection: High-leverage, late-inning reliever on first-division team
MLB ETA: 2016
Chances of Signing: 100 percent
The surest of sure things to sign in this draft, Jake Stinnett has no leverage but is going to get a handsome signing bonus, because he's the rare college senior who doesn't have a lot of wear and tear on his arm. That could also lead to teams trying him out as a starter, even though I believe his future lies in the bullpen.