Jordan Sheffield is an undersized high school pitcher who shot his way up draft boards this fall, with a dazzling performance during the Perfect Game's World Wood Bat Championship. It's hard to believe a singular inning opened as many scouts' eyes as it did, but that's exactly what happened a few months ago in Jupiter.
The oldest Sheffield brother (his younger brother, Justus, is a top prospect next year) pitched a 1-2-3 inning in relief, "without throwing a fastball under 95," topping out at 98. He also mixed in what has been described as a "hellacious" curveball.
Before Sheffield's million-dollar inning, his fastball sat in the low 90s (with good life) most of the summer, occasionally touching 95. His curveball probably has the most upside of all his pitches – it's a hard, tight curve, sitting in the 80-81 range – but his slider and change could become above-average pitches as well.
The high-school wide receiver has an interesting delivery, which you will see below. He possesses an extremely high leg kick, which reminds me of an exaggerated Roy Oswalt.
The biggest knock on Sheffield is his lack of size. The Vanderbilt recruit stands around 6-foot, 180 pounds. Will his body allow him to be a middle-rotation starter, or will he be forced to the bullpen? The answer to that question is going to determine most of his draft value.
If Sheffield is unable to stick as a starter -- either due to his lack of size, or development of multiple secondary pitches -- he could be an asset in the back end of a Major League bullpen. As his body matures, his fastball (mid-90s with great life) should become a legitimate plus pitch, as long as he can control it. Pair that with a potentially plus curveball and you're looking at an 8th/9th inning guy.
If he develops three quality pitches and adds 20-30 pounds to his frame, I envision his ceiling as Johnny Cueto. If everything goes right for Sheffield he has three plus pitches: a low-90s fastball, with good life, a hard-breaking curve, and a deceptive change.
Projected Draft Round
The following is where the major outlets have him ranked as a player among other draftees: Keith Law (UR), Baseball America (23), MLB.com (UR), Minor League Ball (19). There's a lot of question as to where Sheffield will hear his name called on draft night. I think he'll be drafted in-between rounds 2-4, which makes him an interesting over-slot candidate for the Astros, depending on how far he falls. Signability and projection are going to scare some teams away.
College Commitment: Vanderbilt, Will He Sign?
The key factor in all of this is whether or not his little brother also commits to Vandy, which he's currently considering. As of right now, I predict Sheffield would sign for the right price.
The Vanderbilt recruit has a lean athletic build at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds. He has a loose arm and the ball explodes out of his hand with excellent life. Sheffield was up to 95 in the Team USA 16-and-under trials last summer, but pitched in the 89-91 mph range on the showcase circuit this summer.
Jordan Sheffield is a 2013 RHP/SS with a 6-0 180 lb. frame from Tullahoma, TN who attends Tullahoma HS. Slender athletic build, looks like a middle infielder. On line leg raise delivery, compact high arm circle, high 3/4's to over the top release, some effort on release, throws downhill. Steady low 90's fastball, topped out at 93 mph, mostly straight. Hard slider/cutter in mid 80's is a quality pitch, flashes depth and late bite, hard downer curveball has tight spin and good shape, can spin the ball well. Change up still developing. Could become a 4-pitch power starter down the road. Good student, verbal commitment to Vanderbilt.
Below is my own personal Big Board, based on the prospects profiles thus far:
2013 Big Board (2/23/13)