With the 20th overall pick, the Blue Jays could select… Hurston Waldrep?
5 months ago
I’ll be completely honest, there aren’t a lot of college pitchers available in the first round.
Sure, you have Paul Skenes, Chase Dollander, and Rhett Lowder, but all three will be long gone before the Jays step to the podium with the 20th overall pick. In fact, there are only two other college pitchers in MLB Pipeline’s Top 50, Tanner Witt and Joe Whitman.
Well, that doesn’t include Hurston Waldrep, who ranks as MLB Pipeline’s 20th-best draft prospect, and is the player we’ll spotlight today.
Hurston Waldrep’s bio:
The 21-year-old right-handed pitcher transferred to the University of Florida after two seasons at the University of Southern Mississippi. Waldrep, who went to high school in Georgia, went undrafted in the COVID-shortened 2020 MLB Draft. Waldrep stands at 6’2”, 210 lbs with some projection remaining.
He had an impressive 2022 college season (we’ll get to that), where he was a Third Team All-American and had two complete games with the university.
The last time the Blue Jays drafted a player out of the University of Florida was in 2016, when they drafted Kirby Snead with the 312nd overall pick. The last time they drafted a college player from the state of Florida was when they selected C.J. Van Eyk with the 42nd overall pick (Florida State product).
Hurston Waldrep’s stats:
Unlike prep players, we will cover statistics for college players.
Waldrep pitched out of the bullpen as a freshman for Southern Mississippi, amassing a 3.31 ERA in 16.1 innings pitched. Surprisingly, he only had a 23.5 K%, by far the lowest in his collegiate career. He also had an 11.8 BB%.
The right-handed pitcher joined Southern Miss’ rotation in 2022, amassing a 3.20 ERA in 90 innings pitched with the Conference USA school. His strikeout rate rose drastically to 37.3 K%, while posting his lowest collegiate BB% of 8.8%.
He transferred to the University of Florida for his draft year, posting a 4.15 ERA in 93.1 innings pitched, all 17 games he appeared in he started. His K% dropped a bit to 35.2%, while he struggled with command as his BB% rose to 11.9%.
In his last game in the Gainesville Super Regional against South Carolina, he finished the game with a line of 8 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 13 in a 4-0 win to send the University of Florida to Omaha. So you know he gets it done when the spotlight is on.
Hurston Waldrep’s stuff:
Someone once told me that while stats tell us the past, they don’t predict the future. So what makes Waldrep a first-round pick this season? Well, he’s got nasty stuff.
If you’re a Blue Jays fan reading this article, you love velocity. It’s hardwired in our fandom to want pitchers with a cannon for an arm. Thankfully, Waldrep checks that box as he averages 95-96 mph with the heater and touches 99 mph.
His best secondary pitch is a split-changeup according to both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline. The pitch has 14 inches of induced vertical break on top of having an average velocity in the mid-80s. It’s very hard to hit a pitch like that, as you can see below.
Waldrep also throws a curveball with a 12-6 shape (think similar to Nate Pearson’s or Bowden Francis’ curveball), and a harp, sharp mid-80s slider. All four pitches are used to generate swings and misses.
One issue with Waldrep is the fact he has a tendency to lose control and command of his pitches. A big reason for this issue is his delivery, which has been described as “violent”, which makes it hard to repeat, and “long”, which can give batters an advantage.
Hurston Waldrep’s grades:
Here are his grades according to Baseball America and MLB Pipeline.
|Tool||Baseball America Grade||MLB Pipeline Grade|
As mentioned in the Thomas White article (check the bottom for the link), as more publications such as Prospects Live add grades, they’ll be included in that table.
Will the Blue Jays select Hurston Waldrep?:
Admittedly, I have a list of 20 draft prospects, and there aren’t a lot of pitchers remaining on it. You should never draft for need, especially in the first round, so if Hurston Waldrep is the best prospect available when the Jays are at the podium, his name could easily be called.
Furthermore, college players more often than not have less leverage than high school draftees, as they only have one or on occasion, two seasons of college remaining. If the Jays selected Waldrep, who is rated around the Jays pick by most publications, he’d more than likely go for the slot value.
The old saying goes that you can never have too many pitchers, and Waldrep could be a great prospect to pick up if available.
Previously in the series…
As always, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Brennan_L_D. Next up in the series will be a position player who has been the Jays pick in mock drafts.
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