The 2019 MLB Draft offers the promise of the unknown and the hope allotted from a fresh, young nucleus of talent. While he won’t be the first player selected, San Jacinto pitcher Jackson Rutledge should be one of the earlier picks in the upcoming MLB Draft. Rutledge, a sophomore, has a massive frame to go along with a strong complement of pitches.
Jackson Rutledge 2019 MLB Draft Profile
Rutledge’s biggest strength is easily his fastball. The righty is reportedly capable of hitting 99 miles per hour and typically sits in the 94-97 range. This is fantastic for a major league starter, but Rutledge is only 20 and theoretically could add strength and endurance as he develops. No pitcher is completely safe from injury risks, but Rutledge’s 6’8”, 240-pound frame suggests he has the build necessary to stay in the rotation without breaking down.
Rutledge is far from a one-trick pony, as the 20-year old also has a plus slider, per MLB Pipeline. While it’s not quite as good as his fastball, it possesses decent movement and can generate swings-and-misses. When combined with an average curveball and an adequate changeup, Rutledge could have as many as four major league caliber pitches. That said, he’s definitely going to make his money with his fastball-slider combination while sprinkling in the other pitches to keep hitters off balance.
As is the case with taller pitchers, Rutledge struggles to consistently find the zone. While he offers great strikeout potential, Rutledge hands out too many free passes. His control isn’t atrocious, as MLB Pipeline gives him a 45 control grade. That said, it’s not great and will probably prevent him from ever developing into a legitimate MLB ace.
The biggest concern is that Rutledge doesn’t have much room for improvement. While his large frame decreases his injury risk, it also makes it harder for him to find the strike zone. Because his release is so high, Jackson needs perfect mechanics to consistently find the strike zone. His mechanics are good, but they’re not good enough to compensate for his massive frame.
Last Word on Jackson Rutledge
Jackson Rutledge is one of the best prospects in the 2019 MLB Draft. The 20-year old possesses ridiculous size and strength and uses his massive frame to throw one of the nastiest fastballs in the draft. Rutledge can already push triple digits and could theoretically improve with added development and professional coaching. Additionally, his slider projects as a legitimate MLB offering while his curveball and changeup are good enough to keep hitters guessing.
The biggest knock against Jackson Rutledge is his lack of control. The San Jacinto product struggles to consistently find the plate, and that’s not likely to change at the professional level. Rutledge’s massive frame leaves little margin for error in terms of mechanics, so he cannot always find his marks.
That said, the good considerably outweighs the bad when evaluating Rutledge. He might have the best pure stuff in the game and should be a borderline top-10 selection. Don’t be surprised if he ends up with the Atlanta Braves, Toronto Blue Jays, or Minnesota Twins.
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