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From the Crow's Nest: Vanderbilt RHP Jordan Sheffield

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Will Sheffield's massive 2016 season outweigh his injury concerns come draft time?

Sheffield is somewhere in there, I think
Sheffield is somewhere in there, I think
Peter Aiken/Getty Images

If you're reading this it's May, meaning we're roughly forty days away from the 2016 MLB Draft. Who are the Mariners going to take with the eleventh overall pick? Who the heck knows? Drafting for need is something that makes other drafts such as the NFL's and NBA's slightly more predictable.

In baseball, everyone is taking the best player available and who exactly the best player available is gets a little fuzzy once you get outside of the top two-to-five players in the draft. Teams carry different agendas and likes and dislikes and philosophies into every draft. One organization may hate college arms while another organization values them. One organization may avoid players from certain schools at all costs. It's all a weird science that leaves each team with forty players in the hopes that five or six of them will be something valuable down the road.

As we near the draft, there is one player specifically who probably has teams scrambling to rearrange their player rankings on a weekly basis. In the fifth edition of 'From the Crow's Nest', I give you Jordan Sheffield, a right-handed pitcher out of Vanderbilt who's getting better with every start.

At A Glance

Name

Jordan Sheffield

Position

Pitcher

Bats/Throws

R/R

School (year)

Vanderbilt (RS Sophomore)

Ht ; Wt

6’0 ; 185 lbs

Born

06/01/1995

MLB.com prospect rank

19th

BA prospect rank

38th

Previously drafted?

2013 - 13th round - BOS

The Rundown

Everything Sheffield throws has a lot of life to it. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and can run up as high as 98 mph with some movement. He throws a sharp breaking ball that hovers around 82-83 mph when I've watched him. Changeup will be in mid-to-upper 80s with late, breaking movement. Fastball is his best pitch at the moment, but all three pitches flash serious potential when he's on.

For one reason or another, Sheffield lives in the upper half of the zone, rarely utilizing the bottom half when attacking hitters. This has worked against him in some ways; umpires have seemed reluctant to call pitches on the bottom edge after Sheffield spent the last ten pitches pounding the upper edge. You can see some of it in the video below:

That being said, Sheffield is very good at deceiving hitters despite living at the top of the zone. It's fun to imagine how scary he'd be if he utilized the entire zone.

Unfortunately for Sheffield, concerns about his health and mechanics may drop him into the mid-to-late first round. Back in 2013, Sheffield underwent Tommy John surgery and could do nothing but watch as his draft stock plummeted. This secured his arrival at Vanderbilt, where he turned in a decent performance in 2015 as a swingman before taking over as the staff ace in 2016. He's rebounded from the injury nicely, posting a 2.29 ERA while striking out 87 in 70.2 IP this season.

Regardless, his smaller stature and somewhat violent mechanics will likely have some organizations fearing that another injury could be just around the corner. It's a very valid concern, and there's no telling what could happen to his stuff should he iron out his delivery and develop a more consistent approach.

2016 has been absurdly positive for Sheffield, however. He's significantly reduced his free pass rate this year (6.45 BB/9 in 2015, 3.31 in 2016) while ramping up the strikeouts (8.25 K/9 in 2015, 11.08 in 2016). Currently, Sheffield is working on a streak of 24 consecutive scoreless innings, an impressive accomplishment in the SEC. He'll look to extend the streak next weekend against No. 2 Texas A&M.

Previous From the Crow's Nest prospects:

Will Benson - OF/1B - The Westminster Schools

Buddy Reed - OF - University of Florida

Bryan Reynolds - OF - Vanderbilt University

Connor Jones - RHP - University of Virginia