With the 42nd overall pick of the 2020 MLB Draft, the Blue Jays selected right-handed pitcher C.J. van Eyk from Florida State University in the second round. Not only did the Jays take a second successive native of the state of Florida, van Eyk is a 2017 graduate of Steinbrenner HS in nearby Lutz, Florida where he played alongside 2017 draftee and current minor leaguer PK Morris.
He was a highly rated coming out of high school for the 2017 draft (ranked 120 by MLB Pipeline) after his fastball velocity jumped up to touching 95 complementing advancedpitchability. Arm soreness that cost a bunch of his senior year dashed any realistic chances of going pro at that point, instead sending to college at Florida State where he had committed.
Working largely out of the bullpen in his freshman season, he posted a solid 2.86 ERA in 56.2 innings, piling up 71 strikeouts though some control issues with 30 walks. He not only moved into the weekend rotation in 2019, but emerged as FSU’s ace and most consistent pitcher in a very up-and-down season that saw them salvage a slow start and earn a trip to the College World Series in Mike Martin’s swan song.
All told, van Eyk posted a 3.81 ERA in 99.1 innings, again with an impressive strikeout rate in piling up 129 punchouts against 48 free passes. He was off to an even stronger start this year, with a 1.31 ERA in 20.2 innings, 25 strikeouts against 12 walks (and 3 HBP), against a mixed bag competition wise. It’s a solid track record in the ACC, the second or third strongest college baseball conference.
In terms of velocity, his fastball still top around around 95, but sits in the low-90s. His best pitch is a sharp 12-6 curve that he can both drop in the zone for strikes and bury down as a swing-and-miss weapon. There’s some mixed reviews on his change-ups, with Baseball America indicating a pitch that fools hitters, and FanGraphs implying it at least flashes plus.
CJ Van Eyk, Fastball and Curveball (individual pitches + overlay/tails). pic.twitter.com/3MAJJDV9K7— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 11, 2020
There’s definitely some reliever risk for the 6’1”, 198 pounder, with the collegiate track record consistently pointing to control issues, and in the pro ranks he’ll face much more consistent hitters. But he gets good marks for his delivery, and the Jays wouldn’t be taking him in the second round if they didn’t believe in his ability to start and will of course give him every opportunity to do so. If it all comes together, the ceiling would be a mid-rotation starter with a solid three pitch mix.
It’s certainly not an obvious overdraft, as van Eyk was ranked 39th on the MLB Pipeline board, 42nd at Fangraphs and 46th by Baseball America, with Keith Law mentioning him as a possible late first rounder. I will be particularly interesting to see what he signs for compared to Jared Jones, the high school pitcher who went two spots later, and also the next two college pitchers selected in Chris McMahon and J.T. Ginn (the latter more intriguing to me).