J.C. Flowers: Righty Attacked Hitters At Two Levels in 2021

When you take someone in the MLB Draft, you try to see what kind of player they can be. You look for little signs and try and project what they could become under proper growth and development.

Since the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted J.C. Flowers as a pitcher in the fourth round back in 2019, they were going for straight upside.

The Florida State product was his team’s starting center fielder for his first two years on campus, before also becoming their closer his junior campaign, which eventually got him drafted by the Pirates. He was a highly rated two-way player in high school, originally getting drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 18th round in 2016 but opting to attend Florida State.

During his junior year with the Seminoles, Flowers was named to the second team All-American by Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America as well as All-ACC as both an outfielder and relief pitcher. He finished the year with a .266 average to go along with 13 home runs to go along with 13 saves in 22 relief appearances.

Signing and getting straight into game action, Flowers pitched 29 1/3 innings with West Virginia in the New York-Penn League, posting a 0-2 record with a 4.30 ERA while striking out 24 batters and walking another 11.

When minor league baseball returned in 2021, Flowers was assigned to the Bradenton Marauders for the first month of the season before getting promoted to Greensboro with the Grasshoppers.

While in Low-A, Flowers posted a 2.12 ERA in six appearances (two starts), striking out 23 and only walking three across 23 innings pitched. He held opponents to a .183 average and .489 OPS in that span.

It was a little bit of a different story with Greensboro, but Flowers fell victim to the heavy hitter ballpark that the Grasshoppers play their home games at.

Flowers posted a 6.67 ERA in seven appearances at home, while owning a much better 2.33 mark, to go along with a 1.06 WHIP away from First National Bank Field.

Those home splits inflated his overall ERA at High-A to 4.23 but you can certainly call it a successful campaign for the Florida State product.

On the mound, Flowers stands at 6’3” and brings to the table a low-to-mid 90s fastball, both a four and two seam version, along with a slider and changeup. His third offering is behind the first two, which shouldn’t be a surprise since he only pitched one year in college, but he still was able to use it to generate swings and misses against opposing hitters.

His slider is his best pitch, and when he’s at his best it’s one of the best in the system. He uses it in any count and is his go to put away pitch.

Looking at his time in Bradenton to begin the year, Flowers wasn’t afraid to get aggressive with the fastball in attempt to overpower hitters.

The clip above shows three different at-bats against the Minnesota Twins Low-A team, the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels.

In the first against Anthony Prato, Flowers jumped ahead quickly to an 0-2 count with two called strike fastballs. At that point, it would be easy to start throwing sliders in the dirt to try and finish off the hitter, but Flowers went with two more fastballs, eventually getting a swing and miss for strike three.

The next two at-bats are against former first round picks, Keoni Cavaco and Aaron Sabato. Flowers pumped fastballs in on the hands on Cavaco the entire at-bat getting fouls on three before eventually getting him to fly out. He left the last one a little more over the plate than the others, but continually was aggressive towards the young hitter.

Sabato finished the season with 19-home runs for Fort Myers but came with plenty of strikeouts. Flowers challenged with all fastballs, eventually getting a swing and miss strike three.

The next clip shows just some of the highlights from his start with the Marauders against the Palm Beach Cardinals. Of the outings in Bradenton this was one of Flowers’ best, and you can see how helpless some of the hitters were. This was also his last appearance for Bradenton, as he was called up to Greensboro after this.

Once he got to Greensboro, he started to use his slider a lot more, sometimes leading with it and using the fastball off that.

The final clip shown here is from his July 4th start against the Bowling Green Hot Rods and shows him using his slider as his go-to pitch throughout the count.

Against Connor Hollis in the first at-bat, he throws five pitches, all sliders and generates three swing and misses in getting the strikeout.

Following that, Flowers strikes out Jackson McGowan in just three pitches. He breaks in a slider for a called strike one, before having a fastball fouled away to put the count 0-2. Flowers finished it off with a slider in the dirt for strike three.

The clip wraps up with the swings and misses that Flowers generated in that start alone.

There’s going to be a lot of intrigue with Flowers going into the 2022 season, as there should be. Considering his age, he’s the kind of player you would usually assume heads to the bullpen at some point, but the fact he didn’t pitch much in college, and the fact he’s one of the best athletes in the system, you kind of want to see him in the rotation if possible.

Of course, that would mean seeing more development on all his pitches, including throwing them for strikes. There were times in Greensboro where it seems he’d lose his command for an at-bat here and there and consistency seemed like a point of emphasis for him when he talked to Cody Potanko in one of his updates.

“I haven’t tweaked much in terms of my mechanics,” said Flowers. “I feel like I had a pretty successful year. The main focus is continuing to hone in on my command.”

Flowers isn’t talked about much as a breakout candidate in the Pirates system, but if anyone qualifies as one it’s the guy who only threw 26 innings at the college level before being drafted as a pitcher, who happens to have one of the better put away pitches in the system.

THIS WEEK ON PIRATES PROSPECTS

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Does a Top Farm System Lead to a Contender?

Demographics of the Pirates’ Prospects Over the Years — Origins

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J.C. Flowers: Righty Attacked Hitters At Two Levels in 2021

It’s All in Your Head: Deion Walker Showing Maturity Beyond His Years

Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

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