I get to see a lot of pitchers. Most throw two pitches. Even if both those pitches are plus, they are still destined for a bullpen role. A lot of the starters I see throw three pitches but that 3rd pitch is fringe and the biggest developmental need facing the player is refining that third pitch. Rarely do I get to see a guy that throws four pitches. Steven Jennings was that guy.
The Pirates took the righty Jennings in the 2nd round of the 2017 MLB Draft and signed him to $1.9 million, $3 million over slot. I saw Jennings in an extended spring training game against the Yankees squad. Jennings was impressive.
Jennings’ FB sat 90-91 in his three innings. He was able to locate down in the zone and primarily used the FB to get ahead and establish control of the zone. His curveball was around 76 mph and had sharp 10-6 bite. It wasn’t a knee buckler but it was an effective wrinkle. Jennings’ slider sat 83-84 with downward tilt. The crown jewel pitch, at least on this day, was the change-up. Sitting 82-84, Jennings painted the outside corners to righties generating a lot of swing and miss and soft contact. He had excellent deception and arm speed on all his pitches but especially with his FB/CH combo.
Jennings has easy, clean mechanics. He stays tall and really loads his glute, driving towards home, allowing him to throw on a downward plane. He has a fast arm and as previously mentioned, does not slow his arm down on the off-speed. He is definitely an interesting follow. He appeared much more polished than his age suggests.
Jennings doesn’t profile as a top of the rotation guy for me because I don’t think he will carry a high K/9. I think his ceiling is middle rotation starter with a pretty high floor. I would grade his FB at 60, SL 60, CB 50, CH 60 with a FV 50. At only 19, he has a ton of projection body wise and could add more velocity to the FB. Still, there is a long ways to go in order for him to reach his ceiling.