Name: Tyler Chase Dollander
Height/Weight: 6’2″, 200 lbs.
D.O.B.: October 26, 2001
Comp: Gerrit Cole
Fastball: 70 Curveball: 50 Slider: 60 Changeup: 55 Control: 55 Overall: 55
Baseball America is high on Chase Dollander introducing him thus, “An under-the-radar prospect out of high school, Dollander began his college career at Georgia Southern, but transferred to Tennessee in 2022 where he took a huge step forward with his control, became the Friday night starter and performed as one of the best arms in the country. Dollander posted a 2.39 ERA over 79 innings with a sparkling 108-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio, won the SEC pitcher of the year award and entered the 2023 season as the consensus top pitcher in the 2023 class.”
The sort of gushing they provide explains a great deal about why Chase Dollander was considered a short-list favourite to go 1:1 in this year’s draft. But then, those predictions were made before the college season was well underway. This year, Dollander’s stuff has backed up a bit. His walk rate increased from 4.2% up to 7.8%. He also experienced some difficulty with the shape of both his fastball and his curve. That slight loss of shape has led to a loss of his usual pinpoint command. The result of that slight step back has been that Dollander has begun to fall rather precipitously down the boards.
Despite this slight downturn, Dollander is still potentially the best pitching prospect to hit the draft since Stephen Strasburg - assuming he finds his shape again, something that should not be too terribly difficult an obstacle with dedicated professional coaching in a controlled environment.
Fastball: Before leaving Georgia Southern, Dollander sat 93-95 with 97 reach-back. In 2022 and 2023, Dollander found some more muscle - and some more velocity. Dollander now throws 94-97 with triple-digit reach back.
Chase Dollander's 11Ks.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) February 20, 2022
Fastball was 95-97mph, T98mph. ⛽️ pic.twitter.com/E3NCPZQYz5
Curveball: Dollander’s fastball and power slider have been more than sufficient for him to run roughshod over the best talent in the SEC. As a result, his curveball lags somewhat behind, as he simply has not had to rely on it nearly as much, despite having a wonderful feel for dropping the pitch into corners of the zone. The curve is a big one, offered up in the upper 70s and generates plenty of swing-and-miss when deployed judiciously.
Slider: This is Dollander’s second-best offering. It is a tight, power slider with cutter-like movement. Early in games, he is throwing the offering in the 87-89 range, though the pitch has repeatedly been clocked as reaching as high as 91. Late in games, the slider becomes more cutter and drops into the 84-86 range, but with somewhat better control. The indications are that some strength and endurance training should be sufficient to help the pitch tick up yet another notch into a true double-plus offering.
Changeup: The change is currently Dollander’s weakest offering. And yet, it still shows signs of being a borderline plus pitch with indicators that it could turn into a true plus offering, potentially becoming a put-away pitch. The pitch currently rests in the upper 80s. For the delivery, Dollander’s arm speed and slot portend further, significant changeup growth. Given how little he has deployed it in the NCAA ranks, it is hardly surprising that the pitch could use a bit of refinement. Currently, the pitch can sail a bit on him when he does throw it. Yet, he still is able to throw it for strikes against both sides. Growth in his change seems to be more a matter of time and repetition more than re-learning the pitch like many prospects must do.
While Dollander continues to display frontline starter stuff, he is not currently locating it as well as he did in 2021 and 2022. He ranked seventh in NCAA Division I in K/BB ratio (8.3) as a sophomore while repeating his simple delivery with ease, but his control and command have been more average this spring. His athleticism helps him generate his premium pitches with little effort and he still, somewhat surprisingly given the amount of physical growth he has already experienced in the last 18 months, has room to add more strength to his rock-solid 6-foot-2 frame.
Currently, Dollander ranks as the #7 overall draft prospect at Fangraphs, #6 at Baseball America, and #9 at MLB Pipeline. Mock drafts have Dollander being selected as high as #10 and as low as #16. The majority of pundits have pegged Dollander dropping to #11 before being selected by the Angels one pick ahead of Arizona. It is a testament to just how deep this year’s draft is that the likes of Dollander may very well still be available at #12.
Dollander has already shown maturity on the mound and in his ability to be coached. Only a recent surge by Paul Skenes, combined with Dollander’s recent “struggles” has moved the consensus off of Dollander being the best overall arm in the draft, possibly the best in 15 years. Some still hold to that despite recent trends.
A few quotes from the young prospect:
“The biggest strength in my game right now is my mentality. I just have that mentality of here it is and good luck. That’s not trying to be cocky or anything, but it’s just what you need to have on the mound. You will face these SEC hitters, and they’re all really good. You have to have the mentality and the pitches to back it up.”
“He (Tennessee pitching coach, Frank Anderson) told me he trusted me and that I need to trust in myself because you have an opportunity to be one of those dogs in this program. I took that and ran with it. Having that mentality on the mound is something you need. It has helped me to bring myself to the next level.”
The Bard’s Take|
Dollander falling to the Diamondbacks at #12 (a distinct possibility) would be one of the most fortuitous circumstances to hit them in the draft in a very long time, even more impressive than Jordan Lawlar still being available when they selected him a few years ago. While Dollander does not fit the general mold of talents selected early by the Hazen regime, there are always exceptions to the rule. Dollander is likely the most MLB-ready pitcher in the draft. He profiles as a rapid riser who has the floor of a #3/4 pitcher as soon as sometime in the 2025 season. Dollander’s ceiling is that of a front-line ace with multiple out-pitches and the workhorse stamina to allow him to be a 180+ IP kind of arm quite early in his career. His ability to limit walks and suppress the long ball (even when he has struggled this last spring) help solidify his profile as a rotation arm rather than a potential starter with present bullpen stuff. Quite simply, he should be someone capable of eating up innings even when not at his very best. When he gets into a groove, he can completely shut down the opposition. Given how quickly Arizona is about to start graduating pitching depth from the farm, adding Dollander to the mix could be the perfect solution. He would already rank among Arizona’s top-three prospects and, assuming he continues to be coachable, could quickly supplant both Lawlar and Jones at the top of the organizational rankings for Arizona.
The question is, if Dollander is still somehow available at #12, will Hazen & Co. break with form and select the potential ace starter?
Next up: Hurston Waldrep