Why Jared Kelley is my #1 Pitcher in the 2020 Draft Class

Why Jared Kelley is my #1 Pitcher in the 2020 Draft Class

Written by: Danny Hacker
Follow him on Twitter: @theGREATdanny94
Follow Prospects Worldwide on Twitter: @ProspectsWorldW

Jared Kelley – Refugio High School
18 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’3″, 215 lbs

60 / 6560 / 7050 / 5555 / 6050 / 60
Present / Future Grades

We are less than a week away from Day One of the MLB Draft and as excitement is building, the rumors are also intensifying as teams finalize their plans on how they want to attack the draft. Some rumors will turn to be true, others are merely smokescreen for what GMs truly are trying to do. One rumor though that is crazy to me is the “free fall” Jared Kelley is encountering in all the public mocks which went from placing him in the Top-10 early this spring to now placing him going Pick 20 or later. The debate of the big three prep arms (Kelley, Mick Abel and Nick Bitsko) has everyone assembling different orders of the three but ultimately it’s all very close and for me, Jared Kelley leads the bunch and is my #1 pitcher in the 2020 Draft Class. Here I’ll explain why it is I am so high on Jared Kelley and why all this talk of him falling is going to either prove to be false or going to be a massive steal for a late first round team.

Jared Kelley is a 18 year old, 6’3″, 215 lbs Right Handed Pitcher out of Refugio High School in Texas and carries a commitment to University of Texas. Despite his commitment, he will most likely forgo that and go pro when drafted in the 1st Round of next week’s draft. Kelley swings the bat very well but his true upside lies in on the mound as that will be what he is drafted for. Kelley’s body is built like the typical “Texas Flamethrower” and is pretty maxed out projectability wise. However what he doesn’t have projectability wise, he makes up for in just about everything else. He’s strong, durable and looks like he can handle a 200+ IP season workload at the pro level like an old school workhorse.

Kelley’s mechanics are extremely smooth and therefore there are no issues at all about repeatability, especially late into starts. He starts off staring straight at the mound, goes sideways with a simple leg kick, rears back and comes down with a really clean and full extension. You would never know Kelley pumps a consistent 95-97 mph just by looking at his mechanics and delivery and there’s no whipping action in his arm which you potentially see in a lot of power/high velocity pitchers. One of the bigger things for Kelley is that his control/command is great for a power pitcher especially a prep one at that.

Fastball: 60/65

Kelley’s arsenal consists of a Fastball, a Changeup and a Slider, all of which he can throw very well for strikes. His fastball sits between 95-97 mph but he can reach 99 or even 100 mph when needed. Despite slightly below average spin rate numbers at the moment (his latest Instagram bullpen session on 5/31/20 showed 2,143 RPM) , his fastball plays because of the velocity and of the movement it can have. He simply fires it past hitters, daring them to do something with it and pin points it pretty well all around the zone which is advanced for a prep pitcher with that kind of velocity. As Kelley goes pro and starts developing further with a better feel to spin, his fastball spin rate should increase to a more normal average RPM which, along with the said velocity and movement, can turn even more into a swing and miss pitch. I grade his fastball right now a 60 grade pitch and with future development, I definitely can see it becoming a 65 grade pitch when it’s all said and done.

Changeup: 60/70

Jared Kelley’s changeup might just be one of the best in all the minor leagues once officially drafted to a professional organization. Yes I did just say that and yes it’s that good. It sits in the low 80s and Kelley’s feel for not only just throwing it but throwing it in all counts is extremely advanced for a prep pitcher. Its spin rate is another thing about it that is above average (in his latest Instagram bullpen session it was at 1,884 RPM) and as he develops with a pro organization, who more and more are dipping into analytics, the pitch should gain more spin and flirt with 2,000+ RPM consistently. Another reason why it plays so well is that he throws it in the same arm-slot as the fastball so hitters have a very hard time see it coming out of his hand. It looks like his fastball and then breaks at the last minute causing many swings and misses with it due to such the drastic dip in velocity. Right now I grade his changeup at a 60 and when it’s all said and done, it could be a 70 grade pitch.

Slider: 50/55

Kelley’s third pitch, his Slider, is where the critics attack him and has the big looming question. The pitch doesn’t boast well analytically like a lot of people/teams would like (in his latest Instagram bullpen session on 5/31/20 it had a 2,234 RPM spin rate) but it sits around the mid 80s and still is an effective third offering despite it seeming a little slurvy last year. The issue in Kelley’s slider is not that he can’t throw one, it’s the lack of consistency in it. A lot of people believe that breaking ball spin/effectiveness is something you either have or you don’t but again, it’s not that Kelley can’t be effective at all with it, it’s just the lack of consistency. This spring, reports were starting to say that Kelley showed a better slider with more consistency and had the season continued, it might had shown off its potential to be a good third pitch and probably would’ve eliminated a lot of concerns people have about it. When it’s all said and done, it won’t be on the level that his fastball and changeup are on and that’s fine but it will become an effective third pitch. Right now I grade it at a 50 and eventually will become a 55 grade pitch.

All in all, Jared Kelley is a monster on the mound. Filled out profile wise, blazing fastballs past hitters left and right, a devastating changeup and above average control/command for a prep pitcher, Kelley has serious front line starter/ace upside. He’s one of the most right now MLB ready prep pitchers I’ve seen and it’s honestly not a crazy thought at all to think he could be up in the pros before he can even legally drink. Yes there are some questions about his slider, yes he is in one of the roughest demographics of any MLB Draftee (RH Prep Pitcher) and yes he’s not as much of an analytical darling like some others are but Kelley, just 18 years old, has a lot of time to improve/build on what he has to reach his sky high potential. All of this talk of him “free falling” seems pretty crazy to me and given everything about him, if he does fall to the late first, that’s going to be one hell of a steal for a team. I have Jared Kelley mocked to the White Sox at 11th Overall in my Mock Draft (they were and still are pretty heavily linked to him) and to wrap this up, here’s an tweet of mine from February 3rd:

The gifs in this article were made from videos taken by Prospects Live and 20/80 Baseball from Kelley’s appearances at the Under Armour All America Game at Wrigley Field and the Perfect Game National Showcase at Chase Field.

Image of Kelley was made for me by Dorian Redden (@dredden26)

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