Draft Prospect Watch: Two Pitchers Moving Up the Draft Rankings

We don’t have a set date for the 2020 MLB amateur draft yet, but we now know that it will be held between June 10th and July 20th, with fewer rounds and a signing deadline that will be no later than August 1st. We are going to continue the Draft Prospect Watch series as normal, even if the date gets pushed back to July 20th. Worst case scenario is that you know a lot about more draft picks than normal.

The Pittsburgh Pirates own the seventh overall pick in this draft, as well as the 31st and 44th overall picks. Each Saturday, we will take an in depth look at one prospect who could be a good fit for that seventh overall pick, as well as another who rates a little lower and fits better with those two lower picks. In case you missed it, here’s our draft preview article.

We have posted seven Draft Prospect Watch articles so far, which are all linked here:

Nick Gonzales and Jordan Westburg

Asa Lacy, JT Ginn and Emerson Hancock

Jordan Walker and Zac Veen

Garrett Mitchell and Freddy Zamora

Austin Wells and Patrick Bailey

Tyler Soderstrom and Drew Romo

Jared Kelley and Alex Santos

Today we look at two of the top college pitchers in this draft class according to the updated top 300 draft prospects from Baseball America.

BA based their updates on reports they received prior to the baseball stoppage. One of the top movers for them in this draft class was Max Meyer, a right-handed pitcher from Minnesota, who moved up 20 places to the tenth overall spot. That puts him in range of the seventh overall pick for the first time.

The 21-year-old Meyer isn’t big for a pitcher, standing in at 6’0″, 185 pounds. However, he has quite a two-pitch mix with a fastball that touches upper 90s and a sweeping slider that hits 91 MPH (UPDATE: now hits 93 MPH). MLB Pipeline considers it to be the best slider in this draft class. Meyer’s third pitch is a changeup, which he doesn’t use often. It’s considered average now that it has shown improvements in college.

Meyer’s has above average control and a clean delivery that he repeats well. He is also an athletic player, who has been used often as a hitter when he isn’t on the mound. The question here is whether he will have the stamina to be a starter. His velocity works better in relief and he doesn’t have a large frame, so there’s the possibility that he ends up as a late inning reliever who fills the strike zone with two plus pitches. That’s not what you want with the seventh overall pick in a strong draft class, but the fact that his arsenal would allow him to move through the system quickly gives him a much better floor than most draft picks.

Here’s a video from Perfect Game Baseball from last month

Here’s a video from two weeks earlier by Alec Dopp and Baseball Prospectus

Our second player is right-handed pitcher CJ Van Eyk from Florida State. This is an interesting ranking from BA. They moved up Van Eyk seven spots to 30th overall in their latest update. That would make him a perfect subject when looking for the 31st overall pick in the draft. However, MLB Pipeline had him 19th in their latest draft update, which was released weeks earlier. Either BA was too low on him before or Pipeline was very high. Fangraphs had him 28th in their rankings, which were posted in early February.

Van Eyk is 21 years old (22 in September) and stands 6’1″, 205 pounds. He has the three-pitch mix that you look for in a starting pitcher. He commands his fastball all around the zone, throwing the pitch in the 93-95 range. His breaking ball is a curve with late downward action and it sits high 70’s, though Pipeline notes that he can add or subtract to the pitch when necessary. His changeup is his third best pitch and it gets a 50 grade due to nice deception that gets results.

Van Eyk is considered a polished pitcher and has been for quite some time. He was drafted out of high school in the 19th round, but a late injury kept him from signing. He’s developed since then into a starter with stamina, command and the ability to mix pitches. He doesn’t have much (if any) projection left since he’s slightly older and has filled out his frame already, but his current arsenal will allow him to remain a starter in the pros.

Here’s a video from Perfect Game Baseball from this season

Here’s a quick highlight video from the ACC Digital Network

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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