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Pirates Draft Prospects: Chase Dollander Has Huge Potential Upside

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Our weekly spotlight of 2023 draft prospects began last week with a closer look at LSU outfielder Dylan Crews, who many people have as the top prospect in this draft class. Today we move on to Chase Dollander, a right-handed pitcher from the University of Tennessee. He’s consistently rated near the top of this draft class. Here’s our draft preview article in case you missed it.

The 21-year-old Dollander is listed at 6’3″, 200 pounds. He went undrafted out of high school during the shortened 2020 draft. He attended Georgia Southern for one year, followed by spending his sophomore/junior seasons at Tennessee. He posted a perfect 10-0 record last year in 14 starts and two relief appearances. Dollander had a 2.39 ERA in 79 innings, with a .175 BAA and a 13:108 BB/SO ratio.

Dollander’s first three starts resulted in a 2.20 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 16.1 innings. His .233 BAA is a jump from last year, but it comes with just two walks, along with that lower ERA and higher strikeout rate. Our Monday Draft Prospect Watch article will cover all of this weekend’s action for the top college draft prospects, including the latest start for Dollander

According to MLB Pipeline, his fastball has a 70 grade, ranking it as his best pitcher. He gets a 60 grade for his slider, while his changeup is a 55, and his curveball rates average at a 50 grade. His control is slightly above average, with a 55 grade. They have him ranked second behind Crews in this draft class.

They have his fastball sitting 95-97, touching 99, while calling it an elite swing-and-miss pitch due to his velocity and movement. They are high on the slider, which sits mid-80s, but can get up to 91 MPH. The pitch can look more like a cutter, depending on the velocity. It has a chance to be well-above-average. Pipeline likes the curve/changeup as his 3rd/4th offerings, but notes they aren’t as consistent as his top two pitches.

His athleticism and low effort delivery helps him command his pitches well. It’s a combo they believe gives him frontline starter potential in the majors.

Baseball America, who also ranks him second in the class, praised his clean/easy delivery and arm speed. They are also high on the fastball/slider combo being elite pitches. They have a tick slower speeds for the fastball, though the same 99 MPH top speed. They movement and command of the pitch stands out.

BA calls the slider a plus pitch, with a high spin rate and horizontal movement. They note he has good feel for his changeup/curveball, but they are behind the top two pitches, and they are mainly used against left-handed batters. BA also puts the front-of-the-rotation tag on him.

Fangraphs has him ranked fifth in the draft class, giving him a 50 Future Value ranking. Dylan Crews is the only prospect with a higher Future Value, and only four draft picks received a 50 FV. They are a bit less optimistic about his upside (though it’s still high), saying he could land in a number 2/3 starter role with some improved command of his pitches. They seem to be a little higher on the potential of his changeup/curve than the other sources, noting that they have the characteristics of better rated pitches.

All three sources agree that he’s got two pitches that clearly lead the way, and two that are at least serviceable. The easy delivery/athleticism leads to him throwing plenty of strikes with the fastball/slider combo, which he tends to lean on. When things are going well, those two pitches are enough, especially since the slider has two looks, getting more sweep depending on how hard he throws it.

Since people disagree on how many aces there are in baseball, it’s possible people are saying the same thing when they say frontline/top-of-the-rotation/#2 potential. Either way, there’s not a big difference in the upsides, regardless of the tag.

Here are some video highlights:

I love this view from 20/80 Baseball

If you really want to sit down and watch him, this video from Fangraphs is great. It’s his first start from 2023. It’s only partially edited (only shows him pitching, but doesn’t skip in between pitches time). I didn’t watch the entire thing yet, but I can still highly recommend this if you have the time.

 

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John Dreker
John Dreker
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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