Rarely do you find a college pitcher in the later rounds of the draft that have even a slim chance of being a starter in the pros. But the Tampa Bay Rays found a college guy in the 31st round of the 2014 MLB Drat in North Carolina State righty Andrew Woeck who might just be able to be a starter as a pro.
Woeck features a solid four-pitch arsenal. His fastball is below-average and sits in the high 80’s. But, he throws a good 77-78 MPH changeup that he has shown a good feel for and loves to use against opposite-handed hitters. He also will throw an 83-85 MPH cutter and a 76-78 MPH curve. His fastball may be nothing special, but overall he features a surprisingly nice arsenal for a 31st round. Also, all of his pitches play up thanks to good pitchabilitiy and command, and he does a nice job of changing speeds and keeping hitters off balance. Last season, he would walk just 9 batters and strike out 41 in 29.0 innings of relief for N.C. State, showcasing good location of his pitches.
There are two reasons that Woeck fell so far in the draft. First, he is a senior pick, which immediately hurts his stock. Secondly, he is a bit of a tweener. His arsenal is more suited for him to be a starter. But at just 5’10”, 175 pounds, there is a big chance that he won’t have the durability to take the ball every 5th day as a pro. As a reliever, he doesn’t have the stuff to dominate. He would be no more than a middle reliever, and his solid command and 4-pitch mix would be going to waste. The Rays will likely give him a chance to be a starter, and he could turn out to be a back of the rotation guy if he can be durable enough. If he can’t stick there he is headed for middle relief, and he could be decent there, but especially given the Rays knack for putting together relief depth he could quickly get lost in the fold.
Overall the Rays picked up a nice value in the 31st round, as it is rare to find college guys who have the stuff to remain a starter at that point. Even if durability questions make Andrew Woeck’s chances of sticking there slim, there is little risk in taking him so late. If he can beat the odds and be a starter, this could turn out to be a steal for the Rays.