With southpaws like Ethan Small (No. 4), Antoine Kelly (No. 6) and Aaron Ashby (No. 7) in the Brewers farm system, it’s become apparent that scouts and upper management have a keen eye for talent at the position.
Left-handed pitchers seem relatively tough to develop into quality MLB players so if you can find that needle in a haystack, you’re in good shape. Especially given the starting rotation that looks to be around for years to come, adding a young lefty early could be huge.
Jordan Wicks is the only potential LHP option with the 15th overall pick, but what are some of the other options for picks after that?
So with the 2021 MLB Draft closing in, let’s take a look at the left-handed hurlers on the board beyond the first round that the Brewers might have some interest in.
1. Gage Jump, LHP, JSerra (CA) HS
We start off with the 5’10” 175 pound 18 year old out of the west coast. Gage Jump has a deliberate windup and a high leg kick that can sometimes throw off hitters. His best pitch is his curveball and that’s his secondary pitch behind his fastball. The curveball that Jump has comes from a high arm angle and he can control it well. His fastball can reach up to 96, but he hovers around 93 typically.
Scouts have tabbed his fastball as ‘dark…..because hitters just can’t pick it up’ and he’s sure to gain more velocity as he gets stronger. Jump also has a complementary changeup and slider that he will use on occasion.
He actually played with the Brewers Area Code team last year and went three innings against the A’s squad, striking out four and giving up only two hits and no runs allowed.
In terms of strengths and weaknesses for him, his biggest strength is that curveball. He can drop it in for a strike early on in the count or can put one in the dirt to get a punch out and the command of that pitch seems to come easy to him.
The biggest downside for him is his size but that could also be looked at as an upside since he’s only 18. He has tons of time to grow and fill out his frame but teams may hold off on him in pursuit of a further along college prospect.
2. Doug Nikhazy, LHP, Ole Miss
Next we have a guy that wears his emotions on his sleeve and will give out a primal scream or two after a big strikeout, Doug Nikhazy.
Nikhazy was a unanimous First Team All-American with the Rebels this season, tied a single-game record for strikeouts in a game with 16 and had a program record 12 wins. He stands 6’0” tall and weighs 205 and he has a four-pitch mix with all pitches being at least average.
In his junior season for Ole Miss, Nikhazy posted a 2.45 ERA in 15 starts with 142 strikeouts and just 31 walks in 92 IP.
His breaking balls are his highest graded pitches according to MLB.com but it depends on who you ask in regards to which is his best pitch…which is definitely a good thing. His curveball has a 12-6 action to it and comes in around the mid-70s while his slider/cutter clocks in around the mid-80s. Some believe his fastball can develop into his best pitch as well, but currently it enters at around 88-92 mph with a peak of 94. Lastly, he has a changeup with a bit of fade to it that clocks in at 78-82 mph.
The downfall for Nikhazy right now is his lack of control at times and scouts believe that he will profile as a number four or five starter at best. He doesn’t lack passion and heart on the mound and that aspect of him as a player has given him some extra brownie points. His ability to change speed and shape on his pitches are one of his best assets and the track record that he had in college speaks for itself.
3. Ky Bush, LHP, St. Mary’s
Ky Bush has been a bit of a journeyman already in the early stages of his baseball life. He was drafted in the 40th round of the 2018 Amateur Entry Draft out of Fremont HS (UT) but opted to go to school at Washington State….where he struggled. He then transferred to Central Arizona Junior College and got things figured out.
As a result of the good numbers he put up there, he got a chance to play at St. Mary’s this past year, the same college that Corbin Burnes pitched at. Now he’s the #67 overall prospect in the draft according to MLB.com.
In 14 starts for the Gaels this year, Bush had a 2.99 ERA with 112 Ks and just 19 walks in 78.1 IP.
Bush is much bigger than the first two pitchers we profiled, standing at 6’6” and weighing in at 240 pounds. This is where he finds something extra on his fastball. That’s his best pitch and it grades a 60 on the scouting report card with a consistent 90-96 mph with plenty of control. His slider is his next best pitch and it breaks more up and down than side to side. Lastly, he has an improving changeup that he never really needed to use and a curveball that could use some work.
With his adapted ability to hide the baseball until the last second paired with his impressive work ethic to get to where he is today, Ky Bush has potential. It’s unclear if he profiles better as a starter or reliever but with more tinkering on his changeup and curveball, he could definitely become a number three or four starter in the MLB. If he can continue to locate his pitches effectively he should be in good shape going forward.
So if the Milwaukee Brewers decide to bulk up there farm system by way of southpaw like they’ve done well in the recent past, these are a few guys that we could definitely see chosen. Stellar major league left-handed pitchers seem to be a dime a dozen, so it might be worth it taking a chance on any one of these guys.
All three seem like pitchers who could see their stuff play up in the right development system, and the Brewers have done an excellent job with similar profiles to these guys. Perhaps they can do it again.