Thursday, June 5, 2014
2014 Draft, Player of Interest: Jace Fry, lhp
Jace Fry, LHP
Oregon State University
HT: 6-1 WT: 195
Jace Fry is a polished southpaw who had good success in one of the top conferences in the collegiate game.
Fry works with a fastball, curveball, and changeup mix. His fastball sits 89-91 with good tail and sink. Fry can shape the curveball in different ways to give the hitters different looks. And, his changeup often has good sink.
Fry doesn't have stuff that will blow you away, but his pitching IQ and good control makes his average arsenal play up. He earned Pac 12 Pitcher of the Year honors with his performance in 2014.
In addition, Fry has solid mechanics. His elbow maintains good position relative to his elbow, he gets respectable differential between his hip rotation and shoulder rotation, takes a good stride length, and finishes in a balanced position.
Here's a look at Fry in action, courtesy of Kendall Rogers on YouTube:
All that said, there is a big red flag (at least for me) with Jace Fry. Fry has already undergone one Tommy John surgery. He had the surgery back in 2012 and came back with no ill effects, but in light of studies that have found that (1) a pitcher who had one TJ surgery will need another within 7 years and (2) that practically no amateur pitchers who have undergone TJ surgery have gone on to pitch as a starting pitcher at the MLB level and the risk with these TJ survivors is just too high.
So, for me, the opportunity cost that comes with selecting these guys is just too high in the early rounds. So, I wouldn't consider either Jeff Hoffman or Erik Fedde in the first round, but many teams are. Tommy John surgery is a traumatic injury and a clear indication that there are mechanical issues, workload issues, or both that need to be addressed and managed. There is a point in the draft where I would be comfortable starting to draft these guys, but it definitely wouldn't be in the first two rounds and likely not until the fourth round.
When the fourth round rolls around, I would probably be comfortable selecting a TJ guy, but prior to that I'd rather go with pitchers who don't have the telltale zipper on their elbow.
Fry is an interesting pitcher and he's the type you draft in hopes of improvement in velocity or breaking ball upon joining the professional ranks that takes him from "interesting" to "impact."