BLUF: Incredible athlete with frontline starter potential, but he remains unbelievably raw.
The Player: Tyrell Jenkins (RHP, St. Louis Cardinals) – Drafted in the supplemental first round by the Cardinals in 2010 and received an over-slot seven-figure bonus. Spent his age 17 and 18 seasons in the Appalachian League compiling a 3.66 ERA in 13 starts. Tossed 59 innings with 65 hits allowed, 15 walks and 57 strikeouts. Has struggled at times in Low-A in 2012, posting a 5.66 ERA in 14 starts, allowing 62 hits and 32 walks in 62 innings, with 61 strikeouts.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Personal Observation (Midwest League 2012), Industry Contacts
Body (6-4, 200): Plus-plus pitcher’s frame. Freakish athlete. Premium wide receiver talent coming out of high school. Long arms and legs. High waist. Great body with projection remaining.
Delivery/Mechanics: Has become cleaner and more consistent as a pro. Leg kick has been reduced and his lower half is more involved. Drops on his back leg and drives to home plate. Clean and loose arm action. Everything works well because of athleticism.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 96, Low – 90, Average – 92-93, Grade – 60/70
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 95, Low 89, Average 91-92, Grade – 50/70
Fastball (FB) Movement: Not a ton of movement outside of some natural life on his four-seamer. Will show occasional sink but not on command. Long arms and large frame lead to good angle to the plate. Should have average future movement. Grade – 40/50
Overall Fastball: Can be highly variable. Typically plus velocity with decent life, but will lose mechanics at time and arm can drag, causing the pitch to vary in quality and firmness. Potential for plus-plus velocity and enough movement to keep him off the center of the bat. Grade – 50/70
Curveball (CB): Occasional flashes of plus pitch with good, tight spin and downward bite. Lacks consistency. Gets around the ball at times and can get caught casting it as well. Shows ability to adjust from one pitch to the next, correcting his mistakes. Potential plus pitch with more experience and feel. Grade – 40/60
Change-up (CH): Good arm speed gives deception. Gets a little too firm at times. Generally trusts the grip and lets it fly. Shows some fade and a little sink at its best. Could be average third pitch but requires a lot of faith and projection. Grade – 30/40
Control: Works around the strike zone and typically works within the confines of the zone. Has small bouts of wildness but shows ability to correct. Has athleticism and clean delivery to project as a strike thrower down the line. Grade – 40/60
Command: Command is a ways off. Lacks feel for locating FB and CB. Typically just throws it at the zone. Needs significant work refining ability to locate to both sides of the plate. Extremely athletic with good body awareness and clean arm action. Ingredients for command projection. Will need time to pull everything together. Likely the last thing to come and may not reach average level until well after big league debut. Grade – 30/50
Summation: Scout’s dream for a pitching prospect. Long, lean frame with exceptional athleticism and strong work ethic. Learns quickly and can apply suggestions and changes real time. High makeup/character kid. Potential for plus FB with additional consistency. Same for CB, which could be hard downer that misses bats. CH could give third pitch of at least average level, but could take a while. Extremely raw. Sashimi raw. All-Star level starter ceiling but incredibly long way away from reaching that ceiling. Epitome of high risk, high reward pitching prospect.
Relative Risk: High. High doesn’t even do this justice.
Future: The Cardinals are committing to taking a BBQ approach to Jenkins; low and slow. Could return to the Midwest League in 2013 and may not reach High-A until 2014. Still extremely young and ahead of the developmental curve. His first exposure to the upper levels could come as late as 2015, giving him a 2016-2017 big league ETA. Patience is required.