Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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Rockies Select Jordan Sheffield in Rule 5 Draft

In Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft, the Rockies chose right-handed pitcher Jordan Sheffield with the 7th pick, taking him from their NL West opponent Dodgers. The older brother of Mariners’ pitcher Justus Sheffield, Jordan last pitched for the Tulsa Drillers, the Dodgers AA affiliate in 2019.

After a standout 2016 season as the Vanderbilt Commodores’ co-ace alongside 2017 first-round pick Kyle Wright, the Dodgers selected Sheffield 36th overall. His minor league career has been very up and down. Sheffield worked exclusively as a starter his first two professional seasons, though struggled with command and control, indicated by 63 walks in 119.1 innings.

In 2018, the Dodgers tried the 5’10” righty in the bullpen after a shaky start in the rotation coupled with injury. Since August of that year, Sheffield has only made 3 starts compared to 54 appearances out of the pen. Despite his strikeout numbers getting better, he walked even more hitters while working almost exclusively from the pen, walking 7 hitters per 9 innings, while striking out 12.1 per 9.

In 2019, Sheffield threw 17.1 innings in the California League (A+) and performed to an impressive 2.60 ERA, 4.07 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), and 3.61 xFIP, though his BABIP was an unsustainable .148.

Things got dicier in his larger 37.2 Texas League (AA) innings that year. Sheffield had a 3.58 ERA, 4.65 FIP, and 5.11 xFIP, in part, because his BABIP normalized to .267. Looking at the strikeout totals along with these numbers is encouraging, though the walk rate is certainly an issue that will need correcting if Sheffield is to stick on the Rockies’ active roster.

On the mound, Sheffield sits in the mid-90s and can get it up to 99 with his fastball, a pitch touted for its high spin rate and sinking movement. The poor command keeps the fastball from being a true plus pitch, though the potential is abundant. Sheffield’s best secondary offering is a curveball that also has a high spin rate. He also features a changeup that has flashed plus, giving him three potentially plus pitches.

Overall, the talent is there for Sheffield. However, between a history riddled with injury and his command-and-control profile that grades consistently around 35/40 – out of 80 – in the scouting community, there is risk and a lot of question marks, but I still think it’s a good pick for the Rockies.

Sheffield, now 25, can be given the opportunity to work out of a pen that needs power arms. If things don’t work out, the Rockies can simply return the right-hander to the Dodgers. Sheffield fits the mold of Yoan Aybar who the Rockies just acquired from the Red Sox. Both are power arms with great secondary stuff and serious command issues. These moves highlight a new trend and change in philosophy for the Rockies front office of targeting high-risk, high-reward type pitchers.

Tyler Paddor

A proponent of prospect analysis and endurer of Rockies idiocy. Twitter: @RoxDontRake