When you have the No. 3 overall pick, it’s never too soon to take a quick peek into this year’s MLB draft. This year’s draft class is loaded with excellent hitting prospects, but is relatively weak on the pitching side.
Draft Prospects You Should Know is a new series that features prospects who the White Sox could pursue in this year’s draft. As the June draft nears, we’ll return to many of these athletes and provide updates on whether their stocks are rising (or falling).
Age listed as of Day One of the Draft (June 3).
University of Oregon
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Baseball America 133
Yovan, despite his high ranking of 47th by Baseball America, is still a work in progress. Throughout his prep and college careers, he’s split time between third base and the mound. While he’s struggled at the plate for Oregon with a .208/.311/.312 slash line over 154 at-bats, he’s fared much better as a pitcher. These are his pitching stats through April 30:
2017 22 G, 0 GS, 1.97 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .213 OBA, 32 IP, 26 H, 6 BB, 36 K
2018 21 G, 10 GS, 2.98 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, .204 OBA, 84.2 IP, 61 H, 37 BB, 98 K
2019 1 G, 1 GS, 4.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, .143 OBA, 2 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 K
The first thing that catches the eye is that Yovan has had only one outing this year. According to an article on February 26 from the Oregon’s “Ducksports” website, Yovan left his February 15 game early due to experiencing some blood clots in his wrist. This was supposed to have been a relatively minor setback, but because it’s been more than two months since he’s set foot on a diamond, it appears the situation was more serious than originally expected.
This season was supposed to be a huge one for Yovan, because many scouts were anxious to see how the righthander would fare as a starting pitcher for 2019. As you can from the stats, Yovan exhibited terrific control as a reliever during his freshman year (4.6 BB%); however, his walk rate soared to 10.5% when he split his time with the rotation last year. On the positive side, Yovan’s strikeout rate actually improved ever-so-slightly (27.5% to 27.7%) while he held opponents to a lower average.
Yovan’s repertoire includes a fastball that runs 91-93 mph, a decent curveball, a slider that runs 77-79 mph, and a changeup that runs about 84 mph according to 2080 Baseball. He tends to telegraph his changeup, but it will be a better pitch with more repetition. Yovan’s delivery features a big hip turn, but has plenty of energy and he repeats his mechanics well according to Perfect Game. Baseball America says that his secondary pitches grade as average for now. His best pitch, despite his modest velocity, is his fastball due to its movement and the way he locates it.
Prior to the season, Yovan was projected by many to be drafted in either the first or second round. However, spending so little time on the mound has caused his draft stock to fall considerably. FanGraphs has Yovan ranked in what would fall between the White Sox third and fourth round selections, while Baseball America has him ranked just before the team’s fifth round selection.
While there is obvious risk here, it’s not as great as it would be if he were undergoing shoulder injuries or arm soreness. With his arsenal of pitches and a solid build to work from (6´3´´, 215 pounds), he should have a future as a starting pitcher. If so, the Sox may willing to take a chance on him with a third or fourth round selection provided he passes a physical. If the White Sox believe he’s more bullpen material, the team may be willing to pounce on him in the fifth round. Of course, Yovan does have some leverage, as he’s still a junior. If he doesn’t sign, he’ll have another college season to boost his stock.
Here’s a video of Yovan pitching for the U.S. Baseball Collegiate National Team against Chinese Taipei last season, courtesy of 2080 Baseball:
Previously, on Draft Prospects You Should Know
C.J. Abrams, Blessed Trinity (Ga.) H.S. SS
Hunter Bishop, Arizona State University OF
Cameron Cannon, University of Arizona 2B/3B
Matt Cronin, University of Arkansas LHRP
Tyler Dyson, University of Florida RHSP
Daniel Espino, Georgia Premier Academy RHSP
Jonathan French, Parkview (Ga.) H.S. C
Ethan Hearn, Mobile Christian (Ala.) H.S. C
Rece Hinds, IMG Baseball Academy (Fla.) 3B
Jason Hodges, Marist (Ill.) H.S. OF-1B
Will Holland, Auburn University SS
Seth Johnson, University of Oregon RHSP
Jack Leiter, Delbarton (N.J.) H.S. RHSP
Chris Newell, Malvern (Pa.) Prep H.S. OF
Quinn Priester, Cary-Grove (Ill.) H.S. RHSP
Adley Rutschman, Oregon State University C
Landon Sims, South Forsyth (Ga.) H.S., RHSP
Andrew Vaughn, University of California, 1B
Matt Wallner, Southern Miss University OF