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The 2016 MLB Draft’s Hardest Throwers…and GB%

We’ll get to the first part of the title shortly, but before that lets look at our final regular season GB% update for some of the nation’s top college pitchers…

Virginia RHP Connor Jones – 68.90%
Florida LHP AJ Puk – 39.02%
Oklahoma RHP Alec Hansen – 43.90%
Mississippi State RHP Dakota Hudson – 68.57%
Cal RHP Daulton Jefferies – 52.63%
Florida RHP Logan Shore – 51.22%
Winthrop LHP Matt Crohan – 34.48%
Kent State LHP Eric Lauer – 46.62%
Vanderbilt RHP Jordan Sheffield – 49.37%
Connecticut LHP Anthony Kay – 50.00%
Rice RHP Jon Duplantier – 62.25%
Pittsburgh RHP TJ Zeuch – 73.48%

New Orleans RHP Shawn Semple – 46.32%

Pretty neat that Kay landed at exactly 50/50. Jones, Hudson, and Zeuch kept up their end of the bargain as some of the draft’s top ground ball inducing pitcher. All three have stuff that certainly matches the stats. Puk’s high FB% continues to stick out as something of a red flag. That might not be fair as a low GB% doesn’t disqualify a pitcher from being effective, so let’s call it a yellow flag for now.

Now we get to the good stuff. Prompted by a question on Twitter, I took a look at all of the players in my notes to try to find some of the draft’s hardest throwers. The process of tracking these guys down was very unscientific, so the high possibility that I’m missing some obvious names exists. I did the best I could with what I had. In all honesty, the little project came out better than I had hoped. Yell at me in the comments, Twitter, or via email if I forgot anybody…

100

Zack Burdi: 96-100, 101
Robert Tyler: 92-98, 99-100
Alec Hansen: 90-96 FB, 98 (101 last year)
Reagan Bazaar: 90-96, 98-100

These guys all throw very hard. Tyler has maintained it as a starter, Hansen has done the same (but less often), and Burdi’s potential conversation (and how his velocity would play in the rotation) is a constant conversation among those in the industry. Bazaar is the wild card here, though I guess you could say the same about Hansen.

99

AJ Puk: 90-96, 98-99
Jordan Sheffield: 90-96, 98-99
Mark Ecker: 90-96, 98-99
Ian Hamilton: 90-94 (starter), 94-99 (relief)

Every time I start to count Puk out as a potential top of the rotation arm, that velocity from the left side sucks me back in. I’m still very likely going to be the low man on him — sticking with the Andrew Miller comp for now — but I can see the appeal of 99 like anybody else.

98

Dakota Hudson: 90-96, 98
John Pomeroy: 87-94, 96-98
Andrew Dunlap: 94-95, 97-98
Lucas Erceg: 92-96, 98
Mitch Sewald: 92-96, 98
Jon Duplantier: 87-95, 98
Matthias Dietz: 90-95 (starter), 94-98 (relief)

Erceg is a third baseman first and foremost, but that velocity on the mound gives him a nice safety net if the whole hitting thing doesn’t work out. My information on Pomeroy, Dunlap, and Sewald might be a little dated by now, so publishing those numbers makes me a little nervous. At one point or another they did hit those heights. I’m at least confident in that much.

97

Justin Dunn: 90-94, 96-97
Ryan Hendrix: 88-94, 96-97
Bailey Clark: 90-94, 96
Kyle Funkhouser: 87-93, 95-96
Kyle Cody: 90-94, 96

I don’t have any 98’s on the last three names in this group in 2016 (Dunn and Hendrix have both done it out of the pen), but all did it last year and all could do it again. The likelihood of Clark doing it is greatest out of the three, I think.

Bryan Garcia: 88-94, 96-97
TJ Zeuch: 88-94, 96-97
Devin Over: 90-96, 97
Jesse Stallings: 88-94, 96-97
Kyle Serrano: 90-95, 96-97
Matt Vogel: 90-95, 96-97
Braden Webb: 89-95, 96-97
Chad Smith: 90-95, 97
Zac Houston: 85-92, 95-97
Chandler Eden: 90-95, 97
Daulton Jefferies: 88-92 (90-95, 97 in past)
Chris Viall: 89-95, 96-97
Cody Sedlock: 88-94, 96-97
Jared Price: 87-95, 97
Shea Murray: 94-97
Justin Calomeni: 88-94, 97
Dylan Prohoroff: 90-94, 97
Connor Williams: 92-95, 97
Michael Silva: 90-94, 96-97
Michael Fain: 88-94, 96-97
Joel Kuhnel: 90-95, 97
Bryan Baker: 88-93, 95-97
Matt Crohan: 87-94, 96-97 (90-94 last summer)
Junior Harding: 92-95, 97
Hunter Kiel: 90-96, 97

A lot of guys have hit 97 in my notes. Serrano has missed this season, but remains an interesting potential gamble for a team with a little extra cash past the first few rounds. I forgot how drastic Jefferies’s velocity drop has been this year, but if he can get 100% healthy again, then I don’t see why he can’t return to the mid-90s. Same with Crohan, another injured arm that has been inconsistent with his peak velocities. There are a ton of current and future relievers here.

97+

Riley Pint: 91-96, 100-102 (99 high this year)
Matt Manning: 90-96, 98-99
Alex Speas: 88-94, 96-98
Greg Veliz: 90-96, 98
Jared Horn: 89-95, 97-98
Graham Ashcraft: 88-96, 97-98
Jay Groome: 87-94, 97
Forrest Whitley: 88-94, 96-97
Jesus Luzardo: 87-95, 97

Very interesting group. Pint’s 100+ readings were all before this spring season; the highest I’ve seen a credible source on him the last few months is 99. That still would tie him with Manning for hardest thrower in the prep class. Speas and Horn both have electric arms that could still gain a tick or two as they fill out (Speas) or refine their mechanics (both, but mostly Horn). Luzardo is another injured pitcher who could be a great overslot get for a clever team past the few couple of rounds.

My quick and possibly incorrect counting totaled 56 pitchers in this class (in my even quicker search of my notes) that can hit 97 MPH or higher.

96

Ian Anderson
Austin Bergner
Anthony Molina
Jeff Belge
Reggie Lawson
Anthony Locey
Joey Wentz
Zach Hess
Dalton Feeney
Andrew Schultz
Brenden Heiss
Bryse Wilson
Nicolas Hanson
Nolan Martinez
Braeden Ogle

All of these guys are serious prospects. All have reached at least 96 MPH. Not bad. And because I got curious, here are the college guys that have reached 96 as well…

Clate Schmidt
AJ Bogucki
Zac Gallen
Ryder Ryan
Kyle Smith
Connor Jones
Wil Crowe
Shaun Anderson
Dane Dunning
Zack Brown
Zach Jackson
Sean Rackoski
Conor Costello
Thomas Hatch
Mitchell Traver
Ryan Moseley
Cal Quantrill
Max Knutson
Chad Hockin
Michael Rucker
Vince Arobio
AJ Puckett
Steven Wilson
Nick Hartman
Jacob DeVries
Griffin Jax
Mark Nowaczewski
Joe Galindo
Brett DeGagne’
Matt Gorgolinski
Bryce Welborn
Stephen Woods
Chris Hall
Andre Scrubb
Jared Brasher
Jon Escobar
Jamal Wilson
Robert Pearson
Gabe Gonzalez
Justin Alleman
Trey Cobb
Brian Trieglaff
Dan Jagiello

That’s 58 more total arms that have hit at least 96 MPH. So in just about two weeks, professional baseball could add 114 (give or take a dozen here or there) new pitchers capable of hitting the mid- to upper-90s. Good luck, hitters.

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6 Comments

  1. Ben Gipson says:

    Maybe I missed but Tulane has 2 guys that have touched or over 96 mph. 3 others that cruise 92-95

    • Rob Ozga says:

      I’ll give you everything I’ve got on Tulane and you let me know who I missed and/or who I have but am too low on. If you don’t mind, of course.

      Emerson Gibbs: 88-92
      Daniel Rankin: 88-92, 94
      Alex Massey: 88-92, 94-95
      Corey Merrill: 87-92
      Patrick Duester: 88-92
      JP France: 90-94
      Tim Yandel: 86-91, 92
      Chris Oakley: 92-94
      Trevor Simms: 90-94, 95

  2. Travis Lincoln says:

    That was a great post. Thanks for the info!!

  3. Landis Hall says:

    What do you have on top A10 and CAA arms.

    • Richard Graham says:

      Have seen a lot of Atlantic 10 action this year. I’ll include first, the above average options I saw this season who are available this go round, also a few I would keep and eye on in the future.
      Moyers Rhode Island (2016)
      Vial VCU (2017)
      Donko VCU (2017)
      Jamer (2017)
      Kelly St. Joseph’s (2017)
      Vanderslice St. Joseph’s (2017)
      Eckleman St. Louis (2016)
      Girrens St. Louis (2017)
      Vichio St. Louis (2017)
      Weissert Fordham (2016)
      Beeker Davidson (2016)
      Schlimm Bonaventure (2016)
      Gray Bonaventure (2017)
      Dant Dayton (2016)
      Muhl GW (2017)
      Ravert La Salle (2016)
      Fazzini La Salle (2016)
      Jimenez La Salle (2017)
      Zombro George Mason (2016)
      Tobin George Mason (2017)

      Wilson Rhode Island (2018)
      Thompson VCU (2018)
      Dailey VCU (2019)
      Brennan St. Joseph’s (2019)

      Wilson

  4. […] ball loving Cubs had to settle for Thomas Hatch instead. Interestingly enough (to me at least), my quick math had the junior season version of Jones (68.90%) and Hudson (68.57%) as two of the three (along with […]

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