A live arm always draws the attention of scouts. That is precisely what Justin Lange, the 57th-best prospect according to MLB.com, possesses. Lange, a right-handed pitcher, is a senior at Llano High School in Texas where he has flashed the potential to be a first-round pick although teams are most comfortable taking him in the second round because of a lack of a track record.
Lange is a 2020 pre-season All-Region and All-Amreican selection in 2020 after being a High Honorable Mention selection on the 2019 Underclassmen All-American team. His ability and success earned him a chance to pitch in the Area Code Games, a showcase designated for some of the best high school players across multiple classes. While he struggled in this showcase, he rebounded in the Future Star Series, hitting triple digits on the radar gun.
Lange has great size at six-feet, four-inches tall, weighing 220 pounds. He is far from polished, but he has one of the highest ceilings in the draft. He is currently committed to play at Dallas Baptist University.
Lange’s strongest asset is his fastball/slider combination. Scouts grade his fastball as a 70/80. It typically sits in the 94-95 MPH range, but he has the ability to touch 100 MPH. The velocity on this pitch dictates the type of life it has. At lesser velocities, the pitch has good run and sink to it, but it has less life at higher velocities.
The slider that he complements his fastball with also has power. Scouts grade the pitch at 55/80, but it is a very inconsistent offering for Lange. At its worst, it is a below average sweeping slider, but it sits in the mid-80s with good bite to it when at its best. He rounds out his repertoire with a work-in-progress changeup.
Aside from his pitches, scouts love his body and his athleticism. He added 25 pounds of muscle to his build. His fast twitch muscles make him explosive enough that he also flashes promise as an outfielder.
Lange needs to improve his secondary pitches in order to have success at the next level. Developing more consistency with his slider will improve his fastball and help him pitch more than throw.
Additionally, his changeup will need to develop more than it has to this point. Scouts grade it a 45/80, but Lange has not needed to use it as much in high school so it is possible that more usage results in improvement. If Lange can develop his repertoire, he can find a path to MLB as a starting pitcher. If not, the bullpen can be a long-term option.
While the development of his secondary pitches are one thing that is keeping Lange from reaching his ceiling, the other major flaws in his game are his control and command. These tools are very raw for him right now with scouts grading the tool a 45/80.
He does have some mechanical flaws as well with his low arm slot and high elbow. That is a cause for concern although it should be mitigated once better coaches get their hands on him.
If Justin Lange can throw his slider more consistently and develop his changeup, he and Cleveland Indian Mike Clevinger share similarities. Both men stand six-feet, four-inches tall at similar weights. Clevinger does throw a curveball as his third pitch with the changeup fourth. Regardless, he utilizes a fastball over 51% of the time and complements with his slider, averaging 95.4 MPH and 80.7 MPH, respectively. Lange throws a harder slider, but their fastball velocities match up.
If he does not develop his secondary pitches, Trevor May of the Minnesota Twins is a good comp. May is a little bigger, but he throws his fastball 61% of the time, averaging 95.5 MPH with an 83.9 MPH slider as his second pitch.
Justin Lange has a high ceiling, but he will be a work in progress for the team that drafts him.
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