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Mariners 2020 Draft Preview: RHP Nick Bitsko

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The talented hurler jumps right into the mix for the top 10.

mlb.com

I am interested in the draft and in prospects, but I’m not exactly a seasoned evaluator. Me watching footage—even HD footage—involved a lot of squinting and saying “I think I see the tail on that fastball...” Thus, when I clicked on articles about RHP Nick Bitsko out of Doylestown, Pennsylvania reclassifying into the 2020 draft instead of 2021, I was curious, but figured I wouldn’t have all that much to learn myself.

Then this really good video from Baseball America.

Even to my unseasoned eyes, Bitsko immediately commanded my attention. The amount of movement on his fastball combined with the velocity makes it truly striking to watch in high definition, especially when you realize he was just 17 in these clips.

While reclassifying means Bitsko is young for the draft class—always a nice benefit—he doesn’t look like such physically. Listed at 6’4”, 220, already, it appears to be mostly muscle, and he already has a thick, muscular build that should over time become well-adapted to the rigors of a major league season. He’s likely somewhat near his physical ceiling already, but when you’re already sitting at 95+, the lack of projectable frame becomes less of a concern.

The pitch mix isn’t elite on the level of a college arm like Casey Mize or Ethan Hancock—or even George Kirby or Logan Gilbert—but for where he is, the fastball (note the tail into right-handers in the BA video), plus the curve and change, which are both reportedly average or better already give him an unbelievably tantalizing foundation to build on for a franchise with the pitching chops to add a pitch or two and give him true front-line potential. You can see all three offerings in a video with a nice angle here—throwing all three from the same arm slot, to the naked eye they appear to tunnel nicely together before diving away from each other, leaving high school hitters hopelessly flummoxed.

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Not just any high school hitters, either: Here he is dicing up top 2020 prep bat Dylan Crews, one of the top high school hitters in the class, and making him look pretty rough in the process.

Every pitch here is well-located, and Crews can’t catch up to the one fastball he makes contact with; then Bitsko freezes him for the K on a changeup right on the edge of the zone.

The Bitsko family is an athletic one: Nick Bitsko Sr., a true BEEF DAD, played college football at the University of Delaware, and has a twitter profile picture that makes me feel wholly inadequate. Bitsko Jr. now waits to see where he falls in the draft, but a strong spring that continues to showcase his ability to command his offspeed offerings would likely vault him right into the Mariners’ range at #6, where they should be able to convince him to forgo his Virginia commitment.