Create Account
Sign in Create Account
Draft  | Story  | 2/8/2024

MLB Draft: Positional Recap & Preview

Tyler Henninger      Isaiah Burrows      Tyler Kotila     
Positional Recap & Preview: Catchers | Corner Infielders | Middle Infielders | Outfielders

It's a new week, and the PG Draft team has another Draft history article, diving into the different positional groups along the way. Last week's was the outfielders, talking through players of past drafts and who might be first up in this year's draft.  

This time, the PG Draft team is rewinding the clocks to 2021, 2022, and 2023, respectively, breaking down right-handed pitchers of the past and present. It's easy to think of some of these names from the last few years. Paul Skenes in 2023, Kumar Rocker in 2022, Jackson Jobe in 2021, etc. These are just a few of the big-name right-handers from the college and prep levels who will be covered in this piece. 

We'll discuss some players who were first off the board in their respective draft years, what they brought to the table, etc. Then, our PG Draft Team will make some of their own picks, diving into this year's 2024 draft class.  

2021 Draft History: Right-handed Pitcher

Jackson Jobe, Heritage Hall School (OK), 3rd pick (1st rd.)
Jobe made headlines as one of the more advanced prep arms in recent memory, drawing plenty of comparisons to fellow Oklahoma native Dylan Bundy. A mid-90’s fastball showcased quality spin rates and ride through the zone. An advanced slider is what carried the profile to a Top-3 selection. The offering sat in the low-80’s with spin rates over 3000 rpm and was commanded regularly. A fading changeup and quality upper-70’s curveball rounded out one of the louder prep pitch mixes in recent history. 

College: Jack Leiter, Vanderbilt, 2nd pick (1st rd.)
After drawing first round interest as a prep, Leiter rose to the top draft boards as a sophomore eligible arm out of Vanderbilt. The undersized righthander featured a mid-90’s fastball with massive ride and dynamic feel for a 12-6 curveball with plenty of depth. Flashes of a slider and changeup were both shown, rounding out a potential loud repertoire. Command has always been the key factor to Leiter success. While it continued to show improvements as an amateur, it has been the point of struggle for him in pro ball thus far. 

2022 Draft History: Right-handed Pitcher 

Prep: Dylan Lesko, 15th overall, San Diego Padres 
Perhaps one of the most exciting prep arms from a recent draft is Dylan Lesko. The Buford, Ga. product had to undergo Tommy John surgery in April of 2022 and has since recovered. But Lesko still was taken in the middle of the first round and might have even gone higher if he was healthy. The Padres scooped him off to start the back half of the first round. Lesko’s a former PG All-American and PG Select Festival alumni. He was up to 97 mph during his prep days with exceptional command to both sides of the plate. His best secondary is a changeup that’s downright silly. It’s a virtually unhittable pitch that he routinely manipulates well with a ton of vertical depth. He’s got a 12/6-shaped breaking ball in the mix as well. He executes extremely well, and with a lightning-quick arm, he’s hard to pass up. Lesko’s got a really bright future, and it’s easy to see why the Padres jumped on him at 16th, as he was still on the board—TJ or not. He finally cracked his debut in affiliate ball last summer, making 12 starts, pitching to a 5.45 ERA, with 52 punchouts over 33.0 innings with three affiliates, as high as the Padres High-A Fort Wayne affiliate.  -Tyler Kotila 

College: Kumar Rocker, 3rd overall, Texas Rangers 
Kumar Rocker took an unlikely road to the 2022 MLB draft. It was his third career time being drafted. As a prep player, the Colorado Rockies drafted Rocker in the 38th round. He honored his commitment to Vanderbilt, where he made quite the name for himself. He was Tim Corbin's big arm, alongside Jack Leiter, obviously, making a run to the College World Series in 2019 when they won it and in 2021 when they lost to Mississippi State. Rocker even threw a no-hitter against Duke in the 2019 Super Regional en route to their national championship victory. Rocker was drafted in 2021 by the New York Mets, but there were some issues during his medical screening & physical that caused the two sides to be unable to get a deal ironed out. He spent 2022 working on his development, throwing 20.0 innings with the Tri-City ValleyCats in Indy ball. The Texas Rangers selected him with the third overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. Rocker's a 6-foot-5, 245-pound right-hander who's worked into the upper-90s, known as a power arm. He's made six starts in affiliate ball, not counting the Arizona Fall League (2022), but he had to undergo Tommy John surgery in May of 2023. Rocker's on the comeback trail, but with his collegiate resume, it's hard to argue with the Rangers grabbing Rocker; heck, they already have Leiter in the system. -TK 

2023 Draft History: Right-handed Pitcher 

Paul Skenes, RHP, LSU
Higher to go higher than No. 1 overall, but Skenes put together one of the most dominant and historic collegiate seasons we’ve seen since Stephen Strausburg. Skenes routinely hit triple digits with a 70-grade fastball and 70-grade wipeout slider with plus command of his potent arsenal. The changeup made immediate strides and the right-hander checks all the boxes of an MLB frontline starter in a short time. Pittsburgh had a lot to choose from in a deep 2023 class, and Skenes was first off the board with his elite combination of stuff and performance facing the best college baseball had to offer. -Isaiah Burrows

Prep: Noble Meyer, RHP, Jesuit High School 
Loaded with upside, the Miami Marlins took a swing with the No. 10 overall pick in Meyer. The Jesuit High product was one of the higher ceiling products in the entire class. A high-90s fastball and arguably the best spin in the entire class in his power slider, both projecting a plus offerings. This all comes from a long and lean 6-foot-5 frame with ample room to add. Throw in a promising fading changeup as a solid third pitch at his age and the ingredients can really pop. Meyer has a chance to really blossom, and he did nothing but stand out on the PG national stage all spring and summer long. -IB

Looking ahead to the 2024 MLB Draft: 

Prep: Levi Sterling, RHP, Notre Dame (CA), Texas commit 

Levi Sterling is a Los Angeles native committed to the University of Texas, but he's unlikely to get there with his draft status likely leaving him near the top of the 2024 class. Sterling is a 6-foot-4, 190-pound right-handed pitcher with tons of length throughout. It translates on the mound to him being an uber-efficient mover. He's clean and athletic down the slope, repeating the delivery quite well. On top of that, he's got a four-pitch arsenal that makes him dangerous on the bump. The right-handed pitcher has been up to 94 mph on the fastball and often holds that low-90s threshold. The pitch can get life to it, spinning up above 2,400 RPMs at times. He pairs it with a low-80s slider that has a good tilt, and he spins it well. The slider often spins above the 2,500 threshold and has been up above 2,600 RPMs as well. He also has a cutter that he throws in the mid-80s with a tighter shape, bridging the arsenal together. Also shows a fading changeup in the low-to-mid-80s. It's four pitches for strikes with a ton of upside and projectability here. Teams will want to jump on the chance to select Sterling this spring, and he could very well be the first prep right-hander off the board, or at least in the running to be. - TK 

Prep: Chase Mobley, Durant HS (FL)
Mobley has a chance to be one of the first prep arms off the board this summer. The righthander features a calm, fluid delivery down that mound that can produce power stuff. The fastball has been up to 97 mph with some sinking action. A short, tight slider continues to improve and flashes the ability to be an out pitch. The pitchability and projection make for an intriguing profile. When you add in the fact that he is young for the class, plenty of teams should be interested this summer. -TH 

Prep: Joey Oakie, RHP, Ankeny Centennial HS (IA)
Oakie is another prep arm that can really rise up heading into the spring. The Iowa commit was nothing short of dominant in our premier circuits last summer and it’s a real starter’s mix. He works 92-94 and gets up to 96 mph with one of the best—if not the best— slider in the prep ranks, a mid-80s sweeper with 25 inches of horizontal break. Everything tunnels and he’s a mobile mover down the hill, with a sturdy frame that’s built for more. The command is above-average for grade and the ability to mix and match, change speeds is eye opening. Big upward arrow for Oakie who can sneak well into first round consideration. -IB

College: Brody Brecht, RHP, Iowa 
Perhaps one of the most intriguing arms last year in college baseball was Brody Brecht. He consistently works above 100 mph, and the power heater makes him dangerous in itself, but there's so much more to his profile than that. He's the Big Ten pre-season favorite for Pitcher of the Year and has the potential to be taken in the top half of the first round in this summer's draft. Brecht's heater has taken some strides, locating it better, something he improved upon as the 2023 season went on. Besides Brecht relying on the high-velo fastball, he has come a long way with his slider, cleaning things up this fall and revamping things. Pitching coach Sean McGrath at Iowa thinks it could be a devastating pitch this year to pair with the already deadly fastball. It's already a power breaker and has only taken further strides in the right direction. After 16 starts and one relief appearance, totaling 77.0 innings, Brecht managed a 3.74 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP, and 61 walks to 109 punchouts. If he can prove that his command has taken a step forward, cut down those walks, and continue to be dominant, there's the makings of a really fun right-handed arm here for a big-league team to scoop up next summer. - TK 

College: Chase Burns, Wake Forest
Burns is the definition of an overpowering arm. The now-Wake Forest ace features a fastball that reaches triple digits and a sharp slider that will get into the low-90’s. The velocity and life on both pitches can overwhelm hitters and make them look foolish. The stuff has top-of-the-rotation potential if he can stick as a starter. If not, the repertoire would easily become some of the best stuff out of any bullpen in all of baseball. Burns has the highest upside out of any arm in the class and could go within the first five selections. -TH

College: Trey Yesavage, RHP, East Carolina
Expecting big things out of Yesavage this season as he’s equipped with a power arsenal. His curveball is arguably the best off-speed in the class, it’s a hammer low-80s offering with steep angle and high end depth from an over-the-top slot. He generated a 58 percent whiff rate on it last year. It’s a four-pitch mix with a fastball that sits mid-to-upper-90s and routinely gets into 96-98 mph. Mix in a good split changeup and this can really pop. He’s younger for class, athletic and mobile with a chance to really skyrocket up boards this spring. -IB

PG ID: 542598, 678492, 410104, 442743