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 Kansas
Right-handed starting pitcher
Baseball America 50
At first glance, Zeferjahn’s collegiate numbers really haven’t been all that impressive through May 4, 2019:
2017 18 G, 13 GS, 6.19 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, 52 IP, 58 H (.289 OBA), 35 BB, 53 K
2018 14 G, 14 GS, 4.48 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 80 IP, 66 H (.224 OBA), 39 BB, 100 K
2019 12 G, 12 GS, 3.64 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 69.1 IP, 45 H (.188 OBA), 36 BB, 88 K
With that said, the 6´4´´, 216-pound righthander definitely has showed vast improvement in command and control over the past couple of seasons. According to Baseball America, Zeferjahn has some of the best pure stuff in the 2019 draft class, with a fastball that gets into the upper 90s and a mid-80s power slider with slurvy movement that gives him a second plus offering. His third pitch, a changeup, is one he doesn’t feature often; improvement on that offering will certainly make his arsenal that much better. MLB Pipeline grades Zeferjahn with a 60 fastball, 55 slider, 50 changeup, and 40 control.
Kansas isn’t known as a great baseball state, but its 2016 prep pitching class was quite impressive, with the likes of Riley Pint, Joey Wentz, and Zeferjahn. Zeferjahn will have to continue his improvement by cutting his walk rate down significantly. Though his K/9 rate in college is an impressive 10.64, his BB/9 is a downer, at 4.93. He’s certainly got the build for a starting pitcher; however, if his changeup doesn’t develop and he doesn’t improve his control, his floor could be that of a high-leverage reliever.
Scouts are split on Zeferjahn, as Baseball America believes him to be a second-round talent, while MLB Pipeline and FanGraphs have him more of a third or fourth rounder. This is largely because of the debate about whether he’ll be a starter or reliever at the professional level. With his plus fastball, slider and shaky control, Zeferjahn’s closest White Sox comp is Alec Hansen, although Hansen has a bit larger build.
Where should the White Sox consider Zeferjahn? While the second round may be a bit rich because of his control, a third-round selection (provided he’s still available) wouldn’t be out of the question for someone with his stuff. Below is a video of him pitching against West Virginia earlier this year, courtesy of 2080 Baseball:
Also below is a video of Zeferjahn getting his ninth strikeout against Texas in just the fifth inning on May 3, from @KUBaseball.
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
Dominic Fletcher, University of Arkansas OF
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
Erik Miller, Stanford University LHSP
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
Kenyon Yovan, University of Oregon RHSP