We're one week away from the 2015 MLB draft, and the White Sox still have only been tied to collegiate pitchers in the various projected permutations for the top 10. We'll continue our tour of the top arms by looking at a guy who wasn't supposed to slip to the No. 8 pick in any credible mock draft until Baseball America said otherwise.
Who is Dillon Tate?
The bespectacled Tate is a 6-foot-2-inch, 195-pound (and projectable) righty who has launched a stealth charge on the draft board. The California native wasn't drafted in high school, and wasn't even heavily recruited. As a result, he didn't pitch much as a freshman at UC Santa Barbara, but he started to make an impression when he barged into the closer role the next season, saving 12 games and posting a 1.45 ERA with 46 strikeouts over 43 innings. He also excelled for Team USA.
The Gauchos expanded his role by sliding him into the rotation after another starter suffered an injury. Tate rose to the challenge, going 8-5 with a 2.26 ERA over 103 innings. He struck out 111 while allowing just 66 hits and 28 walks during the regular season, but showed signs of fatigue during the regional play.
How does he rank?
What's his game?
As you might expect from a converted closer, Tate is primarily a fastball-slider pitcher. He can ratchet his heater up to 98 out of his vigorous delivery, but his working fastball range is mid-90s with armside movement. Kiley McDaniel called his slider a 65 pitch right now, and he has good command of both. His changeup is improving, and he's also toyed with a cutter. He has the athleticism to use a big leg kick without it affecting his command, and the intelligence and (quiet) intensity to improve.
What does he look like?
Why would the White Sox draft him?
Before the last fortnight or so, the answer would've been, "Because they had the opportunity." He had been considered the best pitcher in the draft this whole time, with the potential to be selected 1-1, before his effectiveness diminished around the 100-inning mark. He has the stuff -- it's the track record and reps that he's lacking, and the Sox might think they have what it takes to build up his workload while completing his arsenal.
Why would the White Sox draft somebody else?
Given that he's already blown past his previous high in innings, he'd probably need to be shut down after the draft. That could affect the Sox' turnaround time if they can't get their hands on him as early as possible. Or they could see that 100-inning milestone as more of a barrier, and with only one draft pick in the first three rounds, they wouldn't want to risk it on somebody they think is destined for the bullpen.
Where's he going in mock drafts?
- Baseball America: No. 8 (White Sox)
- Law: No. 4 (Rangers)
- MLB.com: No. 5 (Astros)
- Fan Graphs: No. 6 (Twins)