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2016 MLB Draft: college pitchers, 2nd round options

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Having looked yesterday at potential options among college pitchers when the Blue Jays pick in the first round, we turn now to potential options for the two second round picks (and potentially beyond if some names fell) at 57th and 66th overall. Before going further it's worth reiterating this isn't a demographic the Jays have targeted recently in this range of the draft. Outside of the first round, it's been 5 years since they went with a college pitcher early on, John Stilson in the 3rd of the 2011 draft - and he was a expected to be a first rounder who fell due to injury. In fact, excluding senior signs to save money in 2012, there have been no college pitchers picked in rounds 2-5 from 2012 to 2015. So again, this could be a place to look for a philosophical shift with the new front office.


Yesterday's piece ended with a handful of pitchers who likely be reaches in the 1st round absent a below slot deal but who should be gone before the Jays pick again 35 spots later: Logan Shore, Eric Lauer, Cody Sedlock, Anthony Kay, and Daulton Jefferies. Should any of those make it to the Jays, they would certainly be in play along with Corbin Burnes (RHP, St. Mary's) who fits into that group. But we'll focus on that next tier of college pitching that is more likely to be on the board. Again, a table listing background info and stats from The Baseball Cube, with more in-depth profiles below:

Jon Duplantier RHP 6'4 210 Rice 43 57 51 106 3.06 41 143 165 2.78 79 201
Zach Jackson RHP 6'3 195 Arkansas 48 59 77 53 5.09 40 66 156 3.23 99 197
Ben Bowden LHP 6'4 220 Vanderbilt 71 60 78 48.2 3.51 14 65 96 3.28 34 124
Dane Dunning RHP 6'3 190 Florida 60 78 75 63.1 2.70 10 76 145 3.60 44 158
Matt Krook LHP 6'4 200 Oregon 68 108 55 53.2 5.03 49 68 99 3.55 68 128
A.J. Puckett RHP 6'3 175 Pepperdine 49 85 99.1 1.27 26 95 247 2.95 81 219
Zac Gallen RHP 6'0 170 N. Carolina 89 70 84 90.2 2.68 21 95 260 3.36 63 231


Jon Duplantier (video)

Similar to Dakota Hudson on yesterday's list, I doubt he'll still be on the board for the Jays either though a couple of the rankings put him right in the range. The yellow flag is that he missed all of last year with a shoulder injury, though he didn't need surgery and came back strong this year. But shoulder injuries are always concerning. And of course, he's a pitcher from Rice, who draftees don't have the best records in pro ball of either performing or staying healthy.

Still, there's quite a bit to like, including a low 90s fastball that touches higher, and a curveball that's his bread and butter strikeout pitch when it's on (sometimes it looses its form). Duplantier is lauded for his overall athleticism, but there are questions if he's a future reliever.

Zach Jackson (video)

Jackson has fallen down draft boards this spring after being a dominant closer for Arkansas last spring, his 89 strikeouts in 60 innings anchoring their run to the College World Series. From the bullpen he has a mid 90s fastball that will touch the upper 90s, with his best pitch being a hammer curveball to putaway batters.

There's some thought that he could be a starter, and after struggling this spring in the bullpen he did make some starts to mixed results. There are questions about his mechanics as a starter beyond just how the stuff translates and whether his change-up can be good enough as a third pitch. Realistically, he's probably a reliever, but potentially a high leverage one which is not a bad outcome for a second round pick, though with substantial risk.

Blue Jays trivia: In 2004, they drafted a different Zach Jackson in the 1st round, who was traded for Lyle Overbay but was ultimately a bust.

Ben Bowden (video)

Bowden's college tenure has been similar to Jackson's, in that he was a very good reliever in 2015, was moved to the rotation to the rotation in 2016 to mixed results, and ended up in the bullpen where he ultimately profiles best. Unlike Jackson, this year he was dominant out of the pen, on the heels of a dominant stint on the Cape as a reliever last summer (31K in 17.1 innings).

Bowden works in the low 90s, with a good breaking ball and some feel for a change-up. That gives him some shot to stick at as a backend/midrotation starter, but he's likely as reliever and could move quickly in that capacity.

Dane Dunning (video)

Dunning was a 34th round of the Blue Jays in 2013, so there's a familiarity here. He's been a dominant reliever out of the bullpen this year on an incredibly loaded Florida staff. At most other schools, he's easily have been in their weekend rotation, and spent most of 2015 as Florida's midweek starter. He will likely start in pro ball, and in fact might be the likeliest on this list to ultimately stick as a starter.

Dunning's has a quick arm and his fastball works in the low 90s, with lots of movement. He's got good feel with a change-up, and it's his breaking ball that lags behind (which is the easier think to teach in pro ball). While college pitchers haven't normally been in play here, between the history, the Blue Jays' penchant for UF pitchers, and his potential, I could definitely see Dunning as a feasible option.

Matt Krook (video)

Krook was drafted by the Marlins 35th overall in 2013, with a failed physical scuttling the deal and sending him to Oregon. He had a great debut in 2014, but got injured halfway through the year that required Tommy John surgery. He missed all of 2015, returning this year with a very up and down campaign. I've seen a few of his starts early in the year, and when he's on he can steamroll a lineup, as in the linked video. But he has a big issue throwing strikes consistently.

Ultimately though, he's a lefty with a low 90s fastball, big breaking ball and some feel for a changeup, which will always interest lots of teams. since it profiles as a potential midrotation starter and if not, the tools for an elite reliever. But he's a project, and could always return to Oregon as a redshirt junior.

A.J. Puckett (video)

Puckett has taken big steps forward each of the last two years, from a reliever to okay starter, to excellent starter this year. His velocity has increased into the low-90s, with good pitchability and possibility some more projection. He's a potential starter, with a good changeup as his primary secondary, but also an improving curveball. The Blue Jays did draft Jackson McClelland out of Pepperdine last year, though after the first 10 rounds.

Zac Gallen (video)

Gallen has been a three year starter for UNC, coming on especially strong the last coupe years as an anchor in their weekend rotation. He also had a very strong stint last summer in the Cape Cod League (34K in 28 innings, 3.21 ERA). He's got a solid three pitch mix, with nothing sticking out as a likely plus pitch, but that that mix does give him a decent shot at being a backend starter if things go right.


Finally, a few other college pitchers who could factor in, though more on the early part of the second day (rounds 3-10) if they're still in the board:

  • Chad Hockin, RHP, Cal Sate-Fullerton (big fastball/slider as reliever, some injury concerns related to elbow)
  • Braden Webb, RHP, South Carolina (rare freshman eligible pitcher, TJ in 2014, huge year in 2016, big fastball and curveball)
  • Zack Brown, RHP, Kentucky
  • Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville (1st round supplemental pick last year, slipped towards the end of the year and decided to go back for senior season, stuff slipped further).
  • Kyle Cody, RHP, Kentucky (2nd rounder in 2015)
  • Thomas Hatch, RHP, Oklahoma State (come on strong this year)
  • Cole Irvin, LHP, Oregon (2012 Blue Jays pick, great freshman year, Tommy John surgery in 2013 and more up and down since. Backend ceiling)