Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall HS (OK)
Weight: 200 lbs.
Commitment: Mississippi (will be a draft-eligible sophomore)
FB: 55/60 SL: 70/75 CV: 50/55 CH: 55/60 CMD: 50 Overall: 55
Hit: 45/50 Pow: 45/50 Run: 55/60 Fld: 55 Arm: 60 Overall: 45
Let’s just get one thing straight, right off the bat. The above inclusion of Jobe’s position player grades as a shortstop is merely to make a point and to support an argument made later in this preview. There is no chance that Jobe is being drafted as a SS. There is a non-zero chance that a team might draft him as a two-way player, but even that seems unlikely. About the only way Jobe playing the field becomes normalized right away is if he fails to sign and ends up attending Mississippi. There, it is actually quite likely that Jobe plays as a two-way player, as the Rebels were quite content to offer him a scholarship for his skill as a shortstop alone. Then he started showing off his dynamic arm.
Jackson’s physical development came on late. Despite entering high school undersized, he was one of those athletes that was among the very best at pretty much any sport he played. Needing to focus a bit more, Jobe focused exclusively on football and baseball. Over his time at Heritage Hall, Jackson sprouted up nearly a foot in height and packed on plenty of muscle in the weight room. The result, he played both ways in football, starting at QB and also as a safety on his team’s 3A state champion team. Then, on the diamond, Jobe played as the three-hole hitting shortstop, and later, also the team’s closer. Jobe’s electric fastball, along with yet more time in the weight room resulted in Jobe seeing more time on the mound. That, unfortunately, was cut short by the pandemic. During the downtime, Jobe returned to strength training, also working out with a weighted ball. Now, he has emerged from the lab as a pitcher with some legitimately draw-dropping stuff and the profile of a pitcher that could someday slot in the top half of a big league rotation.
On the mound, Jobe has a fluid, repeatable delivery. Despite the velocity and the spin he gets on his pitches, his delivery is free and easy. He is one of those pitchers who appears to be simply playing catch with his battery mate when he is dominating hitters. He squares to the plate from the wind-up, helping him to have excellent control in his follow-through, preventing him from suffering the pitfalls of falling from the mound the way many hard throwers do.
Max: 98/99 Avg: 93+
Jobe’s fastball has ticked upward in velocity year-to-year, with many believing there is still a bit more in the tank. Originally living in the 89-91 range, Jobe’s fastball offerings now sit comfortably in the 93-94 range. Some reports even have him throwing even harder, beginning to live closer to the 94-96 range. By all accounts, when Jobe reaches back for something extra, the ball jumps from his hand and touches 98 or 99. Jobe tends to work his fastball around the top of the zone. This helps his velocity play up even more and also sets up his slider to eat batters alive. Jobe’s fastball induces rather average vertical break. It also tends to tail a bit instead of getting the preferred arm-side run. However, there are two things Jobe still has going for the fastball to make up for that. First, the fastball is not a pitch he actually works on much, leading plenty of evaluators to believe that he can get some better movement on the pitch through some simple coaching. Second, and this is going to be a running theme, Jobe’s fastball has fantastic average spin rate. HIs spin rate, already sitting impressively above 2350 RPM continues to improve. As he has started to throw harder, his fastball now touches slightly above 2650 RPM. Keep that number in mind, we’ll be coming back to that later.
Current Max: 86 Avg: 83+
This is it folks - the loudest tool in the entire draft, and by a hefty margin. When scouts talk about a prospect having a standout tool that will carry them, this is the sort of tool they are talking about. So, without further ado, let’s have a detailed look at the jaw-dropping, still in development pitch.
For an 18-year-old, Jobe’s command of his slider is impressive. He’s got above average control for the pitch with pretty average command. Considering the shape of the pitch, his feel for throwing good strikes with the slider is encouraging with regard to his ability to use it as a wipe out pitch once he adds even more velocity. Oh, yeah - when Jobe first broke out his slider, it sat 81-83. Now, it sits comfortably in the 83-84 range. With a bit more filling out and the benefit of focusing 100% of his efforts on baseball, the expectation is that he could be sitting in the 85-86 mph range with his slider by the time he debuts.Enough about things like shape, velocity, and command though. Sure, these are all nice and certainly contribute to Jobe’s outstanding slider grade. They are not, however, the feature of his slider which talent evaluators are drooling over. That, constant reader, would once again come down to spin rate. When Jobe took the mound as a 17-year-old and started flipping the slider towards the plate, it was flying out of his hands at a mind-boggling 3100 RPM. That alone is elite. The thing is, he has continued to work hard on further developing his best pitch. In his latest showcase, Jobe was hitting 3200+, with some offering exceeding a ridiculous 3300 RPM.
Let’s put that all in some perspective.
At the MLB level, pitchers who throw breaking balls exceeding 3100 RPMs are rare. Of the nearly 47,000 sliders thrown in Major League Baseball in 2020, just 353 of them exceeded 3100 RPM. There were just nine pitchers in baseball last year that threw more than 10 of them over the course of the entire season.
Jobe routinely floated around that 3100 mark during an entire outing - as a 17-year old. Now he’s spinning it even harder, and maintaining that spin rate as a norm. For further perspective, Los Angeles Angels righty Griffin Canning was the only hurler in Major League Baseball last season to throw more than three sliders with spin rates exceeding 3360. Jobe, without the benefit of regular, daily, MLB trainers, is already doing that when he is at his best, and he is doing it in games, not just when putting on a demonstration. Jobe’s slider could be used to carve out a new Channel Tunnel, and it is only going to get better.
There is further evidence that Jobe’s slider is something special, and not just the product of modern analytics driving scouts and their evaluations. It seems at least one MLB pitcher has already taken a shine to Jobe’s slider as well. Here’s the story, as told by Jobe.
“I had a cool interaction with Lance McCullers Jr., from the Astros. Perfect Game posted a video of my slider and he quoted it on Twitter and tagged me and said, ‘Pass me that grip,’ so I obviously went on Twitter and DM’d him the grip. He asked me for my number and then we texted a little bit, just talking about what he thinks about when he’s throwing it.”
“It was pretty dang cool.”
With his plus fastball and his plus-plus slider, Jobe would already be considered a strong pick for this draft. Those aren’t his only pitches though. The young right-hander still has two more.
That’s uber-prospect Brady House that Jobe just abused.
Jobe’s curveball feeds off his slider. Where his slider has some solid horizontal movement, his curve has heavy downward bend. It isn’t quite a true 12-6 curve, but it comes awfully close. Currently, the curve sits 77-79 mph. Oh, and stop me if you have heard this, it has some plus spin. Jobe has shown he is unafraid to throw the curve to batters on either side of the plate, using both the movement and significant velocity decrease to help his already plus fastball play up even more, especially at the top of the zone. Jobe seems to have fair command of this pitch as well, able to throw it for a strike mostly at will. When he does miss with the pitch, he does exactly what a pitcher is supposed to do with a missed curve, he spikes it. Rare is the curveball left to cement-mix over the heart of the plate.
For his age and level, Jobe’s fastball and slider are enough for him to bully his way to plenty of success. With that in mind, it shows some real maturity that Jobe has chosen to focus on developing a second off-speed pitch to work into his repertoire. While Jobe only recently started working on his changeup, he has truly dedicated himself to it, making a concerted, conscious effort to use it liberally in his outings. Jobe’s change has good fade and shows plenty of depth. He delivers the ball with good arm motion and tunnels it well with his fastball. An early knock on the change was that he would sometimes get a little loose with it and tend to miss arm-side. More recent reports are that his continued work with it has paid off and that he is now throwing it more consistently for strikes to batters from both sides of the plate. Though it is a late addition to Jobe’s arsenal, the changeup is quickly developing into another plus pitch and has likely already surpassed his curve in terms of overall quality.
This includes the full Brady House at-bat
Let me be perfectly clear. There is one reason and one reason only, that Jobe is not a clear-cut top-5 prospect in this draft. He is a right-handed prep pitcher. If Jobe somehow makes it to campus rather than signing with a team in July, he’ll be back in two years and, assuming no injuries, will be able to shake off that stigma. There is plenty to like about Jobe and precious little to hold against him that is actually within his control. Fair or not, being a prep pitcher brings numerous concerns, not the least of which is keeping the arm healthy during extensive development, likely taking three years or more. Given that Jobe’s calling card is a hard breaking pitch, those concerns are likely to have even more weight for many clubs.
Jobe’s pitching tools are so loud that they overshadow the fact that he is a capable shortstop. He will not be drafted as a two-way player. However, if he weren’t a pitcher, he would still be getting drafted early for his chops as a position player. This is not an insignificant insurance policy for a drafting team to have to fall back on. If he makes it to Ole Miss, he will likely play as a two-way player there. That could increase the chances of him later being selected as one in 2023.
Jobe’s fastball is already a plus pitch, but it is one he has not been working on much for over a year now. Major League clubs are not going to overlook that pitch. It is electric, and it has plus-plus potential built in. Combined with his already plus-plus slider and possibly a plus change, Jobe should have little trouble finding a place on a Major League pitching staff. If he finishes further developing both his slider and that fastball, while also maintaining or making strides with his two off-speed pitches, the sky’s the limit for the young man.
Jobe’s reach-back fastball is now hitting 99 mph with RPM reaching the 2650 range in multiple outings. Jobe’s slider maintains a ludicrous, top of the chart 3200+ RPM spin rate. To put those numbers in simple, demonstrable terms, the top slider spin average currently in the game is 2977 by Corbin Burnes. Oh, and if Jobe maintains that 2650 RPM on his fastball once he starts working on it more,that number would place him top three in the league as well. It is eye-popping numbers like that which will have teams putting Jobe back to work on developing those pitches, in addition to the work he is doing on his off-speed stuff. Holding Jobe’s status as a prep pitcher against him is the only reason that Jobe is not higher on most prospect depth charts. He is arguably the best pitcher in the draft not from Vanderbilt. Any team taking him after the fifth pick is going to need to expect to fork over 100% of slot value in order to sign Jobe. Depending on how committed he is to Ole Miss, it may take more, especially if he falls beyond Arizona. The fact that Jobe will be a draft-eligible sophomore in 2023 only complicates matters more, as that reduces the risk Jobe is taking if he chooses to head to campus. There is no denying the risks in taking a prep pitcher, but there is some built-in insurance and the upside potential is immense.
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