The Mets ventured into the JuCo ranks for their fifth-round choice, Brandon Welch, a short righty at Palm Beach State Junior College. Just 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, Welch is an athletic, quick-armed pitcher who brings great velocity and an ability to throw strikes to the organization. Welch was an outfielder in high school and continued playing there through his freshman season at Daytona State Junior College. He transferred to Palm Beach State this season, and his profile as a pitcher took off.
The fastball can sit 92-94, brushing 96. He pairs it with a power slider that can reach the upper 80s while maintaining some impressive depth. When both pitches are working, he can be a dominant pitcher who is nearly unhittable. What's most remarkable about Welch is his command; for someone so new to pitching, you'd expect him to be nowhere near the strike zone. Not only can Welch throw strikes, but he displays solid command over both pitches. Furthermore, the arm action looks pretty clean to me. Sounds pretty great, right? Welch is a fifth-round pick for a reason, and that reason is that he doesn't always show the same velocity. Though he maintained his command, most scouts saw him working 88-91 with a less impressive slider that didn't have the same bite. Factoring in his short stature, there just wasn't a whole lot to get excited about.
The Mets are hoping the 94-mile-per-hour-fastball version of Welch shows up if he signs. As a smaller guy who's new to pitching, it's very possible that he just ran out of gas. It's also possible that he has a mechanical flaw that can be corrected and will help him regain his lost velocity. There is effort in his delivery, and I have noticed that he can stand to stride further, which will sometimes rob a pitcher of velocity.
Even if he does regain it, Welch profiles as more of a reliever than a starter. The size is worrisome for one, but even more worrisome is the lack of a third pitch and this possible lack of durability. With both his pitches at full strength, Welch could move through the system quickly, providing help as early as two years from now. Personally, I was surprised Welch was still on the board in the fifth round; I gave him a third-round grade before the draft.