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Draft  | Story  | 2/16/2024

MLB Draft: Positional Recap & Preview

Tyler Kotila      Tyler Henninger      Isaiah Burrows     
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 right-handed pitchers, 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 left-handed pitchers of the past and present. Being a left-hander who vaults himself up draft boards can be challenging. Whether it is the prep left-hander in Thomas White ('23), the tough slot college arm in Cooper Hjerpe ('22) or, prep standout Brandon Barriera ('22), or Jordan Wicks, who already made the big leagues, there are arms who have been taken near the top. 



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: Left-Handed Pitchers

Prep: Frank Mozzicato, 7th overall, Kansas City Royals 

Frank Mozzicato vaulted himself up draft boards in 2021. He was taken at seven by the Kansas City Royals and has jumped in with the organization. The Connecticut native made noise in looks from scouts during his time on the prep circuit. A Canes National/Mets Scout Team alum who made noise at the WWBA World Championship as a prep standout. He's athletic with tons to like in his 6-foot-3, 175-pound frame. The velocity kept ticking in the right direction in his prep days, getting up into the 93-94 mph range. His breaker is what drives the attention, having big shape and depth, and it got tons of swings-and-misses, translating well into affiliate ball as well. It's a clean delivery with a balanced move down the slope. He's gotten started with the Royals organization well, and in 2023, he was on fire with the team's Single-A squad in Columbia, where he managed a 3.04 ERA over 12 starts, with a 1.24 WHIP. He had 34 walks and 85 strikeouts over 56.1 innings pitched. He was promoted to High-A with the Quad Cities affiliate of the Royals, where he posted a 7.12 ERA over 36.2 innings pitched, with room to keep improving. Mozzicato's the definition of a prep riser who had a loud spring and garnered a ton of pro attention; he was drafted and started to really get in a groove last season. With a clean delivery, low- to mid-90s heater, and well-above-average breaking ball, it's easy to see why the Royals jumped on the southpaw. - Tyler Kotila 

College: Jordan Wicks, 21st overall, Chicago Cubs 

Jordan Wicks may not have been the first player off the board or even been picked in the Top 10, but two years after he was drafted, he has already cracked the big leagues. The left-handed pitcher who had an exceptional career with Kansas State in the college ranks, solidifying himself as a draft prospect with a 3.70 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and 28 walks to 118 punchouts over 92.1 innings pitched. It's a sturdy and physical 6-foot-3, 225-pound build with a fastball that ticks into the low- to mid-90s. He pairs it with a low-80s curveball, but his best pitch, by far, is the changeup he throws in the low-80s, killing spin on quite well. It's an out-pitch and is one that helped him move through the Cubs organization and make his debut in 2023. He moved through the Cubs system and got a call-up from Triple-A Iowa. He made seven MLB starts, totaling 34.2 innings pitched with a 4.41 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP, and 11 walks to 24 punchouts. The Cubs invested in the quick-moving profile that Wicks had on display back in 2021, and it's paid off; he's expected to be in the backend of the team's rotation, looking ahead to 2024. - TK 

2022 Draft History: Left-Handed Pitchers

College: Cooper Hjerpe, LHP, Oregon State

Hjerpe was one of the more data-driven darlings of recent years and showed why. By the numbers, his stuff doesn’t jump off the page but his unique arm slot and release height makes him awfully tough to pick up. It’s one of the more rare releases and shapes to his fastball we’ve seen from the left side, missing bats at will as a low-to-mid-90s offering and up to 97-98 mph potential. The tunneling of his breaker and change was pretty elite from a low launch, and the upside was quite present as he was taken No. 22 overall by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round. After missing his first pro season due to injury, Hjerpe is healthy and on the come up. -Isaiah Burrows

Prep: Jackson Ferris, LHP, IMG Academy (FL)

Ferris’ combo of now stuff and polish was rare in a loaded 2022 prep class. The Cubs may have gotten a steal with him in the second round, 47th overall as he’s continued to build upon those starter traits. Ferris was dominant, living 94-96 and had plenty of downward angle with late life. He paired it with an above-average power curveball with downer action and quality changeup to the arsenal. His ability to repeat and refine on the mound was amongst the best you can find, and Ferris continueD to rise up the Cubs’ minor league system before being dealt this offseason to the Los Angeles Dodgers. -IB
 
2023 Draft History: Left-Handed Pitchers

Prep:
Thomas White, Phillips Academy (MA), 36th pick (CB-A rd.)

White fell to the 36th pick but got the money of a Top-15 selection, signing for $4.10 million. The prep left-hander featured a physical 6-foot-5, 210-pound frame that stands out on the mound. White showcased a fastball into the upper-90’s with the ability to miss bats at the top of the zone. A plus curveball pairs well with the heater and makes for a nasty combo. White flashed feel for a low-80’s changeup as a prep, hinting at three possible above-average pitches. It took a lot to sign White away from a commitment to Vanderbilt, but the upside was too good for the Marlins to pass on. -Tyler Henninger

College: Sean Sullivan, Wake Forest, 46th pick (2nd rd.)

Sullivan wound up a second round selection despite possessing a profile we do not see very often any more. The left-hander mostly sits in the upper 80’s with the fastball and throws it around 75% of the time. It pairs with a developing slider and average changeup. Despite the low velocity, Sullivan still showed the ability to miss bats regularly due to a deceptive release. The ability to pound the zone and get hitters uncomfortable allowed Sullivan to strikeout more than 14 hitters per nine innings for Wake Forest. -TH


Looking ahead to the 2024 MLB Draft: 

Prep: Blake Larson, LHP, IMG Academy, TCU Commit 

Looking at this year’s draft class, and left-handers specifically, Blake Larson could be the first southpaw taken in the 2024 MLB Draft. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound right-hander has room to keep filling out a lean frame with length throughout. His fastball has worked up to 96 mph and held in the low- to mid-90s. The breaking ball works the mid- to upper-70s with a ton of feel to spin. The slider works above 2,900 RPMs and has great depth to it. It’s got great depth to it with a big shape and a ton of feel for it. He also has a changeup in the mix to round out the three-pitch mix. The breaker is top-tier. Pair that with the arm speed and whippy arm path; it’s a really fun profile. With room to keep filling out, it’s easy to like the profile here. The TCU commit has electric movements on the mound, with speed working down the slope. There’s a lot to dream on here, and the Iowa native is attending IMG Academy this spring. He’s someone to watch on the prep circuit. Larson could very much so be in the conversation to be the first southpaw off the board during the 2024 MLB Draft. - TK 


Prep: Cam Caminiti, Saguaro HS (AZ)

Caminiti reclassed up and immediately became the top arm in the prep class. The young lefthander features an intriguing mix of present stuff and projectability. The fastball has been up to 97 mph at times and the frame hints at even more down the line. There is feel for a fading changeup present, along with a sweeping slider that continues to get better. A slower curveball with more depth adds another element to the repertoire. The stuff stands out and when you combine it with the fact Caminiti will still be 17 years old come draft day, there is a chance he gets selected in the top half of the first round. -TH

Prep: Dasan Hill, LHP, Grapevine HS (TX)

Hill had all the makings to pop going into the spring and the signs are pointing to that. The DBU commit is touching mid-90s with a high-spin profile that’s been present for some time now. It’s a fast arm with quality angle to the fastball, with feel for both an average sharp 1-7 breaking ball in the low-80s. The slider and changeup are the more advanced off-speeds, as the slider has better shape and plenty of teeth in the 83-85 mph with spin rates up to 2,700 RPM. His changeup has improved its shape drastically with good arm side fade and a real promising out pitch, both have good projection as above-average offerings. Combine that with the velo jump at a 6-foot-4 build and a starter’s mix, expect Hill to garner big buzz. -IB

College: Josh Hartle, LHP, Wake Forest  

Josh Hartle is one of the arms who could move further up the draft board and be the first left-hander selected in 2024. He’s slated to anchor the Wake Forest rotation. Sure, Chase Burns is the star here, but it sounds like Hartle may be starting on Fridays to open the year, but that’s still to be seen next month. Hartle’s a 6-foot-5, 200-pound build with a lean frame and room to keep filling out. It’s an uber-projectable frame. It’s a clean delivery with a good feel for his movements on the slope, with a tough attack angle that can cause problems for opposing hitters. He’s been up to 94 mph and usually lives around the low-90s in that 88-92 mph range. The pitch has some arm-side run and occasional sink. He’s got a curveball with bigger shape and depth, then a slider with more of the sweeper traits to it. He’s added a cutter into the mix, with the feel to blend his arsenal well and cause opposing hitters problems. He’s also got a changeup that has potential. It’s a profile to dream on, even for a college arm. Hartle could vault himself up boards this spring with continued success and some uptick in velocity. He could very well be the first collegiate southpaw off the board. - TK  


College: Hagen Smith, Arkansas

Smith features the loudest stuff out of any left-hander in this year’s draft and could even sneak into the Top-10 this summer. An overpowering fastball can work into the upper-90’s with ride through the zone. A deceptive release adds another element to the pitch. A sweeping slider can be deadly on left-handed hitters, as well as right-handers. A splitter can get hitters out front when located. Continuing to show consistent command this spring could allow Smith to rise up draft boards even more and make him the first left-handed arm off the board. -TH

College: Jonathan Santucci, LHP, Duke

Santucci will toe the rubber many times for the Blue Devils and checks a ton of boxes as a Day 1 type prospect. He’s up to 96-97 early this fall with a low-to-mid-90s fastball that has good ride and quality. The slider is an above-average sweeper with late depth and bite, along with a fringier low-80s changeup that is utilized to both sides and has promise as a third pitch. The curveball can make strides this year as well as more of a backend fourth pitch. Santucci’s fastball simply plays and the rest tunnels off. He commands the arsenal and has a long track record in the ACC. Expect Santucci to continue in 2024. -IB