8. RHP Sean Hjelle
Current Level: High-A
Acquired: Draft (2018, 2nd Round)
Future-Value Grade: 45
Hjelle was considered one of the safest picks in last season’s draft when the San Francisco Giants selected him in the second round. The towering right-hander has a unique profile. He is just a half-inch short of 7′, but unlike other tall pitchers like Randy Johnson and Jon Rauch, Hjelle has excellent command and works off pitching to contact rather than elite velocity.
He started the year with Single-A Augusta and earned a promotion to High-A San Jose after just nine starts. He’s made eight starts since the promotion and has been even more effective. In 46.1 innings, he’s struck out 46 batters, walked just 10, and posted a 1.94 ERA.
Hjelle doesn’t project to have any plus pitches, but he has the potential for four average or better offerings with a fastball, slider/cutter hybrid, curveball, and changeup. While none of them really stand out, his size gives him an unusual release point that can help his pitches play up.
If he were an average height for a pitcher, he’d project like a right-handed version of Andrew Suarez—someone expected to move quickly and end up a solid back of rotation starter. However, given the uniqueness of his delivery and the potential for him to add strength to his frame and increase his velocity, he has more upside than the average prospect.