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From the Crow’s Nest: LSU RHP Alex Lange

There’s a big, talented righty down in Baton Rouge

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Cal State Fullerton vs LSU Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

After a long break, From the Crow’s Nest is back. I’m hoping to pick up the pace as the draft nears and figured a good way to kick things (back) off would be with Alex Lange, a power righty out of Louisiana State University.

As recently as a couple months ago, Lange was considered to be a potential top-ten pick, but he’s tumbled a bit and now appears to be a legitimate option for the Mariners at No. 17.

At A Glance

Don’t let the blank space in that ‘Previously Drafted’ slot fool you, Lange has always been considered a quality pitching prospect, but a strong and relentless commitment to LSU coming out of high school led to him going undrafted in the 2014 MLB Draft.

Teams called, but as he explained when he arrived at LSU, he was adamant:

"I told the Royals what I had told everybody else, that I wanted to come to school," Lange said. "It would've been cool to hear my name called on draft day by the team I grew up rooting for. That's something every kid dreams about. But I felt like coming down and playing three years for Coach Dunn and Coach Mainieri was the better situation for me. It gives me a chance to thrive and get better every day."

The gamble paid off, as Lange has enjoyed three spectacular years at LSU and is now set to be taken in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft, with the chance to move through a system fairly quickly. Here are his college numbers:

His list of awards during his time in Baton Rouge is extensive, including but not limited to:

  • 2016 SEC Academic Honor Roll
  • 2016 First-Team All-Louisiana
  • 2015 First-Team All-American (Baseball America, Perfect Game, NCBWA, Collegiate Baseball)
  • 2015 National Freshman Pitcher of the Year
  • 2015 SEC Freshman of the Year
  • 2015 Corbett Award Winner

All of this, plus whatever honors he manages to reel in this season. That is quite a haul.

The Rundown

When you watch Alex Lange, the first thing you’ll notice is the fastball-curveball combination, and how effective it is when his command is working. The curveball is perhaps the most impressive of the two offerings. Once considered a slider as recently as his freshman year of college, the pitch has evolved into more of a power curveball that runs 79-82. He’s comfortable burying the pitch, but when it’s at its best, he’s placing it in the strike zone and freezing hitters with it left and right.

Alex Lange

The curveball pairs well with his fastball, an offering that sits in the lower-90s, but can run up as high as 96 mph. You’ll see some variation in the way it moves at times–sometimes it’s more of a straight offering while other times there’s decent tailing action to it. Here he is putting away a Florida hitter with a perfectly placed 93 mph heater on the outside corner with his pitch count hovering around 85:

Alex Lange 2

The third pitch in his arsenal is a changeup that flashes above-average potential, but isn’t quite at the level of his fastball and curveball. He’ll work heavily with the latter two pitches, pounding the strike zone with both.

If you’re drafting Lange, however, you’re drafting him knowing that there is some assembly required. As advanced as his stuff is, this isn’t a case of taking him out of the box and immediately having him ready to go. Mechanical issues will leave him vulnerable at times, robbing him of all command of his fastball and forcing him to rely heavily on his curveball. When Lange is properly calibrated, he looks like one of the best pitchers in the country, but there are plenty of instances of him falling apart because of a total lack of feel for one of his better pitches. If Lange is going to hit his ceiling, finding a way to bring repeatable mechanics to the mound will be essential.

It’s easy to imagine Lange putting it all together and becoming a No. 2 or No. 3 starter. It’s also easy to imagine the command issues hindering him enough to where a shift to the bullpen occurs. He’s a bit of a gamble, but really, the entire MLB Draft is a gamble, so there’s that.

How likely is he to be available when the Mariners pick?

This one is actually pretty likely! It’s impossible to predict how each individual team views Lange as a prospect, but given the current state of things, it’s easy to imagine sixteen other guys going ahead of Lange.