With the team taking three high-ceiling prep talents, there was a pretty good chance that the 34th pick would be an underslot college guy so the team could sign those previous three picks without torpedoing their entire draft budget. That player would be Ball State RHP Drey Jameson.
Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 165 | B-T: R-R
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Scouting Report: An undersized, draft-eligible sophomore out of Ball State, Jameson has a lightning quick arm with electric stuff out of a 6-foot, 165-pound frame. Jameson works with an up-tempo delivery and has been up to 97 mph with his fastball, although he’s more regularly in the 93-95 mph range. While it’s a plus offering, Jameson’s control of his fastball isn’t great, which leads to him pitching off of an average slider. He has better feel to throw strikes with his slider, but it’s not currently a wipeout pitch. Some scouts believe Jameson’s slider could turn into an above-average offering in a bullpen role, if he’s able to improve his fastball command and use his breaking ball as a chase pitch more regularly. His changeup might be his best pure secondary offering, as it flashes plus at times but remains wildly inconsistent at the moment. There are plenty of ingredients to like with Jameson, but he’ll need to continue sharpening his control moving forward and will always face reliever questions given his size.
In front of a huge contingent of scouts, Jameson carved up Stanford in his first start of the 2019 season and was immediately on the map as a draft-eligible sophomore. His high-maintenance delivery is hard to repeat, but it also makes things awkward for hitters, who don’t typically see this kind of arm slot/release point. And from that release point emerges nasty stuff. Jameson will touch 98, he manipulates the shape of two good breaking balls, and he’ll flash an occasional plus changeup. The delivery may make it hard for him to start and Jameson has a skinny, atypical frame. Some teams think he ends up in relief, but it may be a multi-inning or high-leverage role.
James’ Takeaway: Not unlike many were discussing in the broadcast this evening, I went into the draft looking at Jameson as an eventual bullpen arm. However, his stuff has continued to show strong as the season has worn on. The Diamondbacks will give him every chance and then some to develop as a starting pitcher. As seems to be a theme with the draft this year, Jameson too is a hard thrower. He already has a two-pitch mix that could make him a nasty reliever within one or two years. As a starter he is still a three-year project. With his stuff, he could be aggressively placed when it comes to inserting him into the farm system. Though he is looked at as a potential money-saving pick for Arizona, it should be noted that Jameson is a sophomore. This means he has more leverage than many college players as he can elect to return to school and come out as a junior again next year if he thinks he may move up the board.
Jameson’s pitching profile screams reliever although he’ll get chances to prove he can start. He has blow you away type stuff with upper 90s heat, a devastating change-up, and a developing slider. If things go right, he has the ceiling of a middle of the rotation starter, but that’s a lot of ifs. If starting doesn’t work out, he can be a flamethrowing reliever who’s importance to the bullpen will depend on his strike throwing abilities with his three pitches.
Even though the team has taken a lot of boom/bust HS arms, Jameson comes with arguably the most concerns overall. On top of a short and slender frame of 6’1” 165, Jameson struggles to repeat his delivery, which affects the consistency of his command. The inconsistent delivery and command really hurts his ceiling as a starter, so the Dbacks will have to clean it up before he goes to full season ball. He can make it as a reliever with a two or three-pitch mix though in that capacity, although how well he can command the ball will determine if he’s a medium or high leverage arm.
If they started him out simply as a reliever right away, I could see him taking a little more than 2 years to reach the majors. However, if he’s going to be developed as a starter, they need to beef him up to about 180+ and clean up his delivery so the inability to throw strikes and/or arm injuries don’t become a long term issue. Conservatively, I’d say it would take him until 2023 to reach the majors as a reliever.