When Dylan Covey was drafted in 2010, he was seen as a potential front-line starter with two present plus pitches in the form of a low-to-mid-90s fastball and a curveball that was graded by some as a future 70. He showed a changeup which was early in its development but showed promise. When he didn't sign with Milwaukee, who picked him 14th overall, many predicted that he would be a potential top 5 selection whenever he came out of college. Now, almost three years later, Covey is still seen as very talented, but he hasn't established himself as a top of the draft prospect. Where has Covey failed to develop, what does he still have going for him, and where is he expected to be drafted?
Covey is a thick, 6'2" right hander with a three pitch arsenal. His best pitch is a plus curveball, which has a sharp 12-6 break and is a dominating offering when he commands it. He also possesses a great heater, which can touch 95-96 MPH and generally sits around 93 MPH. His fastball command has left something to be desired in college- he flashes promising command but is prone to letting pitches get away from him. His changeup is far behind his other two pitches, but he has feel for it and isn't afraid to work it in. He has good mound presence and shows good pitchability.
Covey throws from a high 3/4 arm slot with fast and loose arm action. He repeats his mechanics very well and his delivery doesn't forecast future arm trouble. However, his plant leg comes down incredibly stiff, and you can see his knee bend under the pressure of his follow-through. The stiff front leg has been part of his mechanics since high school and it is surprising that the USD coaches have not had him correct it, as I would worry about knee trouble and command issues that could be side affects of the leg action.
Covey's transition to college was more difficult than the average prospect's. His decision not to sign with the Brewers was influenced heavily by his Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis, which he received right before the signing deadline. His last year in high school was turbulent, he lost over 30 pounds, his velocity slipped, and his performance fell off for some of the season, which can now be explained by his diabetes. Having grown up in California, Covey decided to attend college close to home to be near his family and his trusted doctors as he went through the lifestyle changes required by his condition. This has to be kept in mind with evaluating Covey's early college performance, as it put him a step behind the other players in his college class.
Covey threw sparingly as a freshman and the results weren't pretty, but this was generally chalked up to him being freshman adapting to the college game and making adjustments. He moved into the rotation full time as a sophomore and took a step forward, posting a decent 80/34 K/BB with 98 hits allowed in 86 2/3 IP and a 3.43 ERA, allowing just 4 home runs. He continued to show potential and his curveball still dazzled, but his fastball command made him too hittable and, coming into the 2013 season, he still had a lot to prove to bring his draft stock back to where it was when he was a high schooler. Another big concern for him is his stamina, which has been lacking at times, seeing his velocity dip too soon in games and his curveball getting loose as contests wear on, this could be a result of his diabetes, and could improve as he continues to regain strength or it could be an ongoing concern.
This year, the story is largely the same for Covey. He has allowed 25 hits and 12 walks in 20 innings, but has struck out 19, and 22 of the hits he has allowed have been singles. In his start on March 2nd though, he posted a tantalizing line of 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB and 12 Ks, hinting at the big time upside he still possesses. Covey is still an enigma, but his stock could skyrocket with more starts like that one.
Update: Covey was never able to gain traction this season, and currently his season ERA is a totally uninspiring 5.22, and though he has struck out 63 batters in 69 IP, he has walked 39 and allowed 86 hits. His struggles with command have hit an all time low, and at this point he might be best off returning for his senior season to try and salvage his stock.
As largely a two-pitch pitcher with command issues and velocity, it's easy to picture Covey as a relief pitcher should things not work out for him in the rotation. His stuff would play up in the bullpen though, and if relegated to that role he could likely be a setup man.
Even though he remains somewhat unrefined, Covey still has the upside of a #2 starter. His velocity, plus breaking ball, mound presence and sturdy frame are all traits that teams covet, and if he improves his changeup and is able to develop more consistent command, he can mow down hitters.
Projected Draft Round
Covey likely won't go as high as he did in 2010, and if he can't find consistency in 2013 it's possible he could slip to the 2nd or third round, but given the quality of his stuff and his pedigree he seems likely to go off the board within the first 50 selections.
Update: Given the huge struggles he's gone through as a junior, Covey could go anywhere from the third round to out of the draft if it sounds like he won't sign. My prediction would be that he goes in the fourth or fifth round as a reclamation project. It should be noted that Baseball America still has him ranked inside the top 130 prospects in the class.
Will He Sign?
I can't see him entering the draft for a third time, and barring a big slide I think you'll see him start his pro career this year.
Update: He's not nearly as safe a bet to sign given the slide his stock has undergone since earlier in the year. If he feels he can have success at USD next year, he might be able to earn himself some money by returning to school.
Covey in the Cape Cod League, 2012. Includes slow-mo shots of his delivery from the side.
Covey as a high schooler
Baseball Prospect Report
Dylan Covey is a guy who has faced an awful lot of adversity in the past three seasons. I think that this guy has faced more challenges than many college pitchers his age and I don't think that should be overlooked when he's evaluated... To me, this [is] a guy who is still building back up.
At his best, Covey sits in the 93-95 mph range and has the best curveball in the class with a developing changeup and slider.