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2024 South Side Sox Top Prospect No. 54: Jake Peppers

A tweener arm who will probably get a starting shot first

Watch out! Jake Peppers’ slider has been known to injure both ACLs and egos.
| @PeppersJake/Instagram

Jake Peppers

Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
160 pounds
Age: 22
2023 High Level ACL (Rookie)
Age relative to high level -0.3
SSS rank among all right-handed starters in the system 14
Overall 2023 (collegiate-summer-pro) stats 4-6 ⚾️ 1 SV ⚾️ 26 games (15 starts) ⚾️ 81 IP ⚾️ 4.44 ERA ⚾️ 1.012 WHIP ⚾️ 84 K ⚾️ 36 BB

With the 269th overall pick in the 2023 MLB draft the White Sox selected Jake Peppers. He is another tweener of a pitcher, but MLB Pipeline is under the impression will stick in the bullpen. He struggled with command in college at Jacksonville State; in 140 innings, he walked 81 batters. On the flip side, Peppers showed a little bit in terms of a wipeout pitch (slider), so he worked in 143 strikeouts. Last season was Peppers’ best in terms of control, but not a big enough improvement to warrant a top pick.

The hope here is that he fills into his 6´3´´ frame and gains some bulk from his current listed weight of 160 pounds (which, to be fair, already seems WAAAAY low). That, hopefully, puts his mid-90s fastball up to the high 90s. The slider is Peppers’ go-to, with a 56% swing-and-miss rate. That is why he is a tweener.

If Peppers cannot get his third pitch (changeup) more developed, he doesn’t look like a bad two-pitch reliever. He ranks 187th per MLB Pipeline in this draft, purely on projections and the glimpses he showed in college and the Cape Cod League, where he corralled a 2.60 ERA in 17 1⁄3 innings at the high-level college summer league.

Peppers’ Baseball Cube player ratings
Durability 81
Strikeouts 72
vs. Power 61
Hittable 61
K/BB 44
Walks 34

Peppers appeared in 44 games for Jacksonville State over the last three seasons and started 19 of those — improving his FIP, SIERA and opponent OPS each year. Although his fastball sits in the mid-90s and got solid results in 2023 with above average arm-side run, but the star of Peppers’ arsenal is his slider.

With Peppers’ spin axis data pointing to a high gyro degree on his slider, there’s some seam-shifted wake evidence that looks to be contributing to a late-breaking nature. That shape and characteristics led to a Whiff rate that was the sixth best of any slider in Division 1 baseball, along with the fourth lowest Zone Contact rate (min. 250 pitches).

To round out his arsenal, Peppers has a changeup that doesn’t jump off the page metrically, but he takes off a lot of velo, and that worked well enough to be a solid third offering, at least in the ASUN.

How the White Sox utilize Peppers (no clues in his cup of coffee in the ACL, four games/two starts) will inform his movement through the system. If the changeup fails, he’s a fast-moving, two-pitch reliever who should see Winston-Salem sooner than later. If the White Sox take a patient approach and want to unlock a starting pitcher, Peppers gets the extended spring or straight ACL experience, given he will be less than a year older than his batting foes.

[Note: The makeup of the White Sox minors changes over the long course of this project, shifting ratings. The February 3 trades with Seattle and Arizona have added three highly-rated prospects to our list, sliding players down. The list below represents our updated rankings, although the stories they link to will retain original rankings (example, No. 56 Troy Claunch originally was our No. 55 prospect).]

2024 South Side Sox Top 100 White Sox Prospects

54. Jake Peppers, RHSP
55. Shane Murphy, LHRP
56. Troy Claunch, C
57. Edrick Felix, 2B
58. Gabriel Rodríguez, RHSP
59. Edgar Navarro, RHRP
60. Lucas Gordon, LHSP
61. Andrew Pérez, LHRP
62. Javier Mogollon, 2B
63. Aldrin Batista, RHSP
64. Ryan Castillo, 1B
65. Bryce Willits, 3B
66. Colby Smelley, C
67. Wes Kath, 3B
68. Alsander Womack, 2B
69. Jordan Sprinkle, SS
70. Connor McCullough, RHSP
71. Luis Rodriguez, RHRP
72. Jonah Scolaro, LHRP
73. Ben Beutel, LHRP
74. Stiven Flores, C
75. Adrian Gil, 1B
76. Yohemy Nolasco, RHRP
77. Ben Norman, LF
78. Josimar Cousín, RHSP
79. Juan Gonzalez, C
80. Chris Lanzilli, LF
81. Alex Speas, RHRP
82. Fraser Ellard, LHRP
83. Garrett Wright, RHRP
84. Duke Ellis, CF
85. Mathias LaCombe, RHRP
86. Godwin Bennett, RF
87. Rikuu Nishida, LF
88. Caden Connor, LF
89. Zach Franklin, RHRP
90. Jeremy González, LHSP
91. Jerry Burke, RHRP
92. Frankeli Arias, LHSP
93. Mikey Kane, 3B
94. Carlton Perkins, RHSP
95. Tyler Neslony, LF
96. Drew Dalquist, RHSP
97. Jason Matthews, SS
98. Jonathan Stiever, RHSP
99. Tommy Sommer, LHSP
100. Daniel González, LHRP

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