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Gem of 2019 Draft Right Under Jerry’s Nose

Duck standout may be the hidden gem of the entire class

Courtesy of the University of Oregon Athletics

In a generally weak draft, there’s going to be a ton of emphasis placed on finding impact talent outside of the first round. Rest assured, I have you covered, Jerry. Let me (re)introduce you to University of Oregon starting pitcher Kenyon Yovan.

Dipoto is surely familiar with the standout Duck, having drafted him in the 32nd round of the 2016 draft out of high school.

Yovan elected not to sign at that time, a decision that appears to have served the young man well. Mocked anywhere from the 3rd round to the 8th round by several publications, his untapped ceiling is the calling card that should have Seattle buzzing his phone next week.

Yovan has merely tickled his potential as a starting pitcher, having only started eleven games for OU in three seasons. A hand injury, specifically blood clots and numbness, kept him out of all but two innings in 2019, so whoever picks him will be getting a shiny new low-mileage toy.

According to The Register-Guard, Yovan had an appointment in April at the Kerlin-Jobe Center in Los Angeles where they gave him good news. He was reportedly provided a clean bill of health, as well as assuring he should get over these symptoms in due time.

One scout close to the Mariners organization believes this Duck has first round upside despite being rather unknown after missing much of the season.

“Whoever takes him will be getting a fresh arm with middle of the rotation potential,” he said. “He’s got an ultra-competitive make-up.”

The scout added he expects the Portland, Ore. product will make a leap forward now that he isn’t hitting anymore and can focus full-time on developing himself on the mound.

“Workhorse mentality,” he added. “Floor is a 7th/8th inning guy.”

In 118.2 collegiate innings, Yovan owns a 2.73 ERA, as well as 135 strikeouts. He handled closer duties as a freshman earning 15 saves, good for 4th best in the nation, before moving to the starting rotation as a sophomore. The Pac-12 hurler would end up getting the nod in 10 games. His 98 strikeouts last season ranked 4th best in the conference.

So what does he bring to the table, you ask?

Yovan offers a heavy fastball, sitting comfortably around 92 mph. He’s a four-pitch guy, adding an average curveball, an average slider, as well as a developing changeup. The slider acts more as a slurve with 10-4 break sitting around 84 mph, while the more conventional 11-5 hammer sits closer to 78 mph.

Yovan could stand to add some deception to his delivery. His stuff alone is advanced for his age, though his control and tendency to telegraph some pitches could be a problem against better competition.

There’s a poor man’s Jake Arrieta in there somewhere, especially if he can continue to develop his breaking stuff.

At 6’3”, 215lbs, Yovan has the frame and the repertoire to stick in a rotation. He, along with fellow Duck Ryne Nelson, may be excellent under-slot options for Seattle in the 2nd or 3rd round next Tuesday, assuming they go the prep route in the first round, requiring an over-slot deal.