Some pitchers make a living on the mound through high-90s fastballs. Others get by on craftiness. Some pitchers are good just because they aren’t particularly bad at anything. Four average pitches make Jacob Heatherly 2017 MLB Draft-ready.
Jacob Heatherly 2017 MLB Draft Profile
Cullman High School is presently home to Alabama southpaw Jacob Heatherly, though not for much longer. Heatherly is currently committed to the Division I paradise in his own backyard, the University of Alabama. At 19 years old, he can get a feel for the MLB draft after his sophomore year, so sign-ability will always in the back of any team’s mind.
Further complicating things with Heatherly is the wide range of opinions on his skill set. There are conflicting reports on the 2016 Under Armour All-American’s projection and current abilities. He’s 19, and measures out to 6’2″ and 215 pounds. There is a belief he isn’t going to grow much more. There is also a feeling his ceiling has dropped after his current season didn’t show that leap forward scouts were hoping for.
Depending on who you ask, he has four average pitches. He owns a low-90s fastball that has reportedly run up to 95 here and there. It has natural sink and run, and he doesn’t mind throwing it inside now and again. It’s good enough for a plus grade for those who believe in the movement and future command. MLB.com currently has an above average mark for his fastball.
A big reason why Jacob Heatherly is so high on the list is straightforward, regardless what the opinions on his secondaries are. Lefties are few and far between. When they can bring 90s heat with sink and locate it well, they’re valuable and sought-after commodities. That control is as much a part of why he’s in the top-50 as his fastball.
FanGraphs evaluators see Heatherly as plenty athletic to easily repeat his “minimalist delivery”. This is the key to locating pitches. With the draft right around the corner, Heatherly doesn’t have much a chance to change a team’s opinion on his secondaries. His fastball and command will be why he sneaks into the back-end of round one.
Heatherly’s secondary pitches are disputed. He seems to be a pitcher who can bring it with his fastball, but lacks any real threat otherwise. Having three average secondaries isn’t necessarily a weakness. However, problems do arise when hitters are picking up on the only two offerings a pitcher seems to have on a bad day.
If he can develop a plus breaking ball, he won’t be such a question mark. MLB.com places his curveball, slider, and changeup as future average offerings. FanGraphs believes he has feel for an average curveball, and some feel for a below average slider. His curveball is likely his best shot at an above average pitch that is not his fastball.