The JUCO: RHP Jackson Rutledge, San Jacinto JC (Texas)
MLB.com’s Jim Callis believes that the San Francisco Giants will take the highest-ranked college pitcher on their draft board.
I’m still quite skeptical of this, as you’ll see shortly with my pick odds, but after being tied to Manoah by almost every draft reporter, it’s not out of the question that pitching could be the pick. While it is the weakness of this draft class, starting pitching—especially with top-of-the-rotation upside—is virtually non-existent in the Giants farm system.
That’s where JUCO right-hander Jackson Rutledge enters the conversation.
Rutledge is benefiting from the success of Toronto Blue Jays prospect Nate Pearson. Teams are afraid to pass on another JUCO hard-thrower just because of the track record. While Rutledge might not be on Pearson’s level, he is still a very intriguing prospect.
With an imposing 6’8″ frame, he generates a mid-90s fastball that touches 99 mph and compliments it with a wipeout slider and a curveball that have both gotten some plus grades.
The stuff is there for him to be a frontline starter. The question is whether he will develop the necessary command. He has made significant changes to his delivery since high school that include shortening and tightening his arm action, but scouts are split on whether it will need to be refined further in pro ball.
Rutledge will also need to develop a more consistent changeup to last deep into games. As a result, there is significant reliever risk. At the same time, it’s easy to envision a future No. 2 starter if everything clicks.